Garmin GPS 12XL

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Garmin GPS 12XL

It's old, it's on the ugly side, but the Garmin GPS 12XL just plain works. If you're looking for your first GPS receiver and want a proven, reliable model, you won't go wrong with the 12XL. And although it's made for trips off road, when you need to get back to town, it can show you the way with its built-in database of city locations.

Despite refinements made by newer GPS receivers in other areas, the accuracy of the Garmin GPS 12XL is just as good. Its 12-channel receiver determines your position within 15 meters. And for greater accuracy, it can use Differential GPS (DGPS) correction information to reduce errors to less than 5 meters. However, using DGPS does require another receiver for the DGPS beacon signals. Many new GPS receivers can process Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) signals for DGPS-like accuracy without requiring a second receiver. But for most non-city navigation uses, within 15 meters is sufficient accuracy.

Navigation information with the GPS 12XL is shown on five main screen displays. The most used display is the Map Page. This is an overhead view of your location showing your position and other reference points in the area identified with a name and symbol. As you move, your path is shown on the screen and is saved by the track log. If you want to return to your starting point, you can use the saved track to reverse the trip. Also shown on the Map Page is your current direction and speed. If you want to change the area viewed, there's both pan and zoom controls to let you see either a greater area with less detail or more details for a smaller area.

While on your way to a destination, you may want to use the Position Page or the Compass page. The Position Page shows a strip compass across the top of the screen with your heading. Your direction is also given numerically, as is your position, altitude, speed, distance traveled, and the time. The Compass Page has a regular circular compass image with the direction to your destination. The destination's direction is also shown numerically along with its name and distance. Your speed and heading are included, as is a data field with your choice of six navigation items: estimated time to arrival, estimated time en route, course to steer, crosstrack error, velocity made good, or turn bearing.

Before and after a trip, you'll use the Satellite Page and the Main Menu Page. On the Satellite Page there's a representation of the GPS satellites, which the GPS XL12 is tracking. It shows the signal strength for each and the estimated error for position readings. A indicator for the battery shows its remaining power. With the Main Menu Page you can access the subpages for creating and viewing waypoints and routes, and managing the track log and various function options.

With the four AA batteries supplied, the Garmin GPS XL12 can run up to 24 hours. Use of the screen's backlighting will shorten this, so there's an adjustable timer to automatically shut it off after a selected interval. The 1.5" W x 2.2" H, grayscale LCD also has adjustable contrast for sharp displays in bright light or dim.

For maximum versatility, the GPS XL12 lets you choose the map coordinate system and datum used. It has memory for up to 500 waypoints and 20 routes. And if one of those waypoints should be near a hazardous area, there's an adjustable distance alarm to warn you of its proximity.