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“It suddenly struck me that that tiny pea, pretty and blue, was the Earth. I put up my thumb and shut one eye, and my thumb blotted out the planet Earth. I didn't feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” – Neil Armstrong (1930-2012)

Fresh Reads from the Science 'o sphere!

Saturday, October 01, 2011

Tech Review: Garmin eTrex 20 Handheld GPS

I just purchased a Garmin eTrex 20 handheld GPS (released in late September 2011) and I decided to do a quick user review of it.

Here, check out my video:

This is my first GPS device, which means I can't do a relative comparison with other units.

So, based on its own merits, here are my comments on the eTrex 20:

1. Build quality is solid, and when loaded with batteries it has a nice, reassuring heft to it. Dark grey areas are rubberized for wear resistance. USB connection is hidden under a rubber weather-resistant flap, and the micro-SD slot is protected inside the battery compartment, which are thoughtful design features.

2. The glassy LCD screen is tad reflective when viewed under direct sunlight.

3. Ability to decode both GPS and GLONASS satellite signals is a very useful feature. In the field, it takes less than a minute to get a position fix, and the precision is quite good, around 4 metres at best.

4. It works well inside vehicles too, I've tried it in buses and get practically instantaneous position and speed readings. It will definitely work as a car GPS, though that is not its intended function.

Would you like to know more?
- GPS (Wikipedia)
- GLONASS (Wikipedia)