Garmin Geko 101

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Garmin Geko 101

Like the gecko lizard, the Garmin Geko 101 GPS receiver is small, light, and colorful. But lizards can't track GPS satellites, aren't good at giving directions, and don't come with an owner's manual. So if you want precise navigation for your next off road trip, stick a Geko in your pocket, not a lizard.

Despite its 3.1 ounce weight and 1.9" W x 3.9" H x .96" D size, the Garmin Geko 101 has the same features as bigger and more expensive models. The waterproof case protects the 12-channel receiver which updates your position every second to within 15 meters. And the accuracy can be enhanced with a Differential GPS (DGPS) beacon receiver.

At .92" W x 1.44" H, the LCD screen of the Geko 101 isn't huge, but the high-contrast grayscale display is easy to read. The contrast is adjustable to suit whatever light you have. And if there's no ambient light, the Geko has backlighting. There's an adjustable shutoff timer for the backlight to prevent unnecessary battery drain.

Using just five buttons, the Garmin Geko 101 is simple for anyone to operate. Hit the Page button to cycle through the four main displays, the Satellite Page, Map Page, Navigation Page, and the Menu Page. The Satellite Page displays the GPS satellites being tracked and overall signal strength. When the signals from three or more satellites are received, an estimate of position accuracy is given and you're ready to navigate.

To plan your trip, you use the Map Page which shows an overhead view of your location. The Geko 101 identifies your position with a figure and any waypoints are shown with a name and symbol. The scale is displayed and is adjustable from 80 feet to 800 miles. As you move, a dotted line marks your path on the display and is saved by the track log. Later you can use the track log to retrace your path. In addition to the adjustable scale, you have your choice of 12 map coordinate systems and 18 datum.

Once you're headed to your destination, the Garmin Geko 101 lets you check your progress with the Navigation Page. The display has a compass showing the destination's direction along with its name and distance. Below the compass image is a data field which can display your choice from 13 navigation items covering average speed to trip time.

The Menu Page is used for creating and managing routes and setting function options. From this page you can mark a waypoint, or change its symbol, name, elevation, or location coordinates. It's also the page you use to select the Demo mode of operation if you want to review the features and functions of the Geko 101 without using GPS.

Two AAA batteries can power the Garmin Geko 101 up to 12 hours and there two ways to ensure they last. Setting the backlight shutoff timer is one way and the battery-saver mode is the other. Normally the receiver is constantly on but with the battery saver mode, it's automatically cycled on and off.