Handheld GPS reviews

Finding your way in the world can cost the earth with some of these handheld GPS.
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  • Updated:6 Apr 2009


Hand held GPS

Test results for eight handheld GPS, ranging in price from $150 to $750

An 'adventure' handheld GPS can reveal your position if you're lost, or record every step you take so you can find your way back. Also, if you know the co-ordinates of a destination, anywhere in the world, it will show you how to get there on foot.

Some units are similar in size to a rugged-design mobile phone, with several small buttons and a joystick to control the various settings. Some units are larger, with a bigger screen and wider buttons. They are portable and designed to be carried for extended hikes.

A handheld GPS works by collecting information from a group of at least 24 satellites that constantly orbit the earth. A fix on three satellites is all you need to get a 2D position, with a fourth needed to calculate height.

Unlike some of the latest mobile phones with inbuilt GPS features, handheld GPS units don't need a mobile phone network to work, and unlike a car navigation device, they don't need an electronic map to be useful. A handheld GPS continually monitors its own position and speed, ready to give you information on where you've been while you're carrying it, and where you should go.

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Brands tested

Garmin Colorado 300 (A)
Garmin eTrex H (A)
Garmin eTrex Vista HCx (A)
Garmin GPSMAP 60 (A)
Garmin Oregon 400c (A)
Magellan Triton 300 (A)
Magellan Triton 400 (A)
Magellan Triton 500 (A)

(A) Discontinued.

Please note: this information was current as of April 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market.



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