No matter whether you enjoy activities at sea level or mountain tops, the Garmin
eTrex Vista GPS receiver is made for all terrains and altitudes. The waterproof
case contains a built-in electronic compass and altimeter, which improve on the
direction and elevation capabilities of using GPS alone. The receiver works with
maps for fishing lakes or for driving city streets, or with topographic maps for off-road
trips, to make it a go-anywhere navigation guide.
For general navigation purposes, the Garmin eTrex Vista has a basemap of North
and South America. It can direct you to cities, lakes or other countries, using major
highways. Also built in is a marine database with navigation aids such as buoys and
beacons. But if you need further map detail for exploring the cities, lakes, or off road,
you'll need additional maps. The receiver has 24 MB of memory for storing these
maps and includes an interface cable to transfer the data from a PC.
GPS can determine both where you are and your altitude, but since determining
altitude is more difficult, elevation calculations aren't as accurate. By including a
barometric altimeter, the eTrex Vista can produce elevation readings with an error
of 10 feet or less.
GPS can also determine your direction of movement, but unlike a compass, not which
way you're headed when standing still. The electronic compass functions like the
mechanical version to show what way you're facing whether moving or not. Using the
compass does increase the battery drain, so the Garmin eTrex Vista lets you switch
between using the compass or GPS to indicate your direction. There's an optional setting
to make this switch whenever you're moving at a certain speed.
Position accuracy for the eTrex Vista is within 15 meters or less than 3 meters
if Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) signals are received. The receiver is also
Differential GPS (DGPS) ready, for those with a beacon receiver. With backlighting and
adjustable contrast, the 1.1" W x 2.1" H, grayscale display is sharp with any amount
of light. Powering the receiver are two AA batteries which can last for 12 hours
in the power-saver mode (receiver cycles on and off).
Most of the information the Garmin eTrex Vista provides is shown on five display
screens: the Satellite Page, Map Page, Navigation Page, Altimeter Page, and Trip
Computer Page. The Satellite page lets you see the status of the GPS satellites
being tracked. The Map page shows a map with your location, route, and navigation
directions. On the Navigation Page there's a compass image with your heading and
the direction to your destination. You can plot elevation over time and distance, or
pressure over time, on the Altitude Page. The Trip Computer Page can display up to
eight data fields of your choice of navigation information. The Map, Navigation, and
Altimeter Pages also have optional data fields for navigation items you select.
To set your operation preferences, create and manage routes, or find specific points
of interest, there's the Main Menu Page. With this display, you access the subpages
of the eTrex Vista. On these pages you can create up to 1,000 waypoints with name and
symbol, review the 10 saved tracks, or edit the 20 saved reversible routes which have up to 50
waypoints. There are also pages with a calendar, calculator, sun and moon data, and one for
finding the best hunting and fishing times for any area and date.