Garmin eTrex Vista

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Garmin eTrex Vista

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.