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  1. #1
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Magellan eXplorist 400

    I'm considering the purchase of the eXplorist 400 and would like to know if other forum members have any experience with that model or similar.

    I will need fairly detailed maps, not just major highways and would prefer that it show rivers, railway tracks, power lines etc. Some topographic indications would be good too.

    They offer a bike handle mount too. Where can buy that cheap along with the CDs of extra maps?

    Also is this price fair? It's in Canadian $.

  2. #2
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    I'd get a Garmin if the main purpose is bicycling.

    The Explorist 400 lacks a lot of features for bicycling that the Garmin units have. For example, The Legend-C can record both moving avg speed and total avg speed. The Garmin can record total trip time, moving trip time, and stopped trip time. The Explorist can not. The Legend-C can record climbing/decending speed like FT/minute, the Explorist can not. The Garmin has a trip computer screen with 8 data fields at one time or 3 data fields if you want a huge display of the numbers. The Explorist has no trip computer screen. The Odometer on the Garmin will record down to the .00 while the Explorist doesn't.

    The CD's for buying any GPS mapping software is going to run you $100 or more American on top of the price of the GPS unit. Beware of buying them off ebay.

    Since mapping is important, get a unit that has a SD card, which the Explorist 400 has as well as a lot of Garmin units do now.

    The very best way to compare units is to either check them out in person at a store or to download the manuals online and compare the features.

    Good luck.

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    Another $15 CAD will upgrade you to the 500 model on Amazon. That's the one I have and I think it's a fine unit. The extra few $ is worth the color screen. Gpsblake makes a good point about software. That's where the manufacturers are making money.

  4. #4
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    All manufacturers get their maps from the same source (at least in the US and CA not sure of Europe). You will not get topo, you will not get power lines etc. They will show rivers, major bodies of water and some railroad tracks. The U.S. / CA maps get down to the street level but are always a couple of years old. The CA maps are not as detailed as US.


    Garmin does sell topo maps (not sure about Magellan). You might see some additional detail on these maps.

  5. #5
    Luggite bsyptak's Avatar
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    I have the older Magellan Meridian with SD card. I also bought the Mapsend Topo CD off Ebay and it works fine. The topos have roads, but not hiking trails. Still, they are excellent for topographical information. On my 128MB card, I have most of western Colorado (the mountains) in it. I believe the newer models allow larger cards (mine might too, haven't tried). Here are a few sample images.

    If it doesn't have Topo capabilities and a memory card slot, it's just a toy.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  6. #6
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gpsblake
    I'd get a Garmin if the main purpose is bicycling.

    The Explorist 400 lacks a lot of features for bicycling that the Garmin units have. For example, The Legend-C can record both moving avg speed and total avg speed. The Garmin can record total trip time, moving trip time, and stopped trip time. The Explorist can not. The Legend-C can record climbing/decending speed like FT/minute, the Explorist can not. The Garmin has a trip computer screen with 8 data fields at one time or 3 data fields if you want a huge display of the numbers. The Explorist has no trip computer screen. The Odometer on the Garmin will record down to the .00 while the Explorist doesn't.

    The CD's for buying any GPS mapping software is going to run you $100 or more American on top of the price of the GPS unit. Beware of buying them off ebay.

    Since mapping is important, get a unit that has a SD card, which the Explorist 400 has as well as a lot of Garmin units do now.

    The very best way to compare units is to either check them out in person at a store or to download the manuals online and compare the features.

    Good luck.
    I've just checked out this Garmin on eBay. It has a colour screen but it doesn't have any external storage capabilities. Everything I have currently (camera, Palm Pilot) uses SD. For my uses, I really need that extra storage capacity. Is there a Garmin with that feature at a comparable price?

  7. #7
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    I've just checked out this Garmin on eBay. It has a colour screen but it doesn't have any external storage capabilities. Everything I have currently (camera, Palm Pilot) uses SD. For my uses, I really need that extra storage capacity. Is there a Garmin with that feature at a comparable price?
    You must be looking at an older Garmin color series unit like the Legend-C, 60C, or Vista-C. Garmin has discontinued those units.

    The newest Garmins color series all have micro-SD card capability now. Just look for the x in the name, like the Legend Cx, Venture Cx, 76Cx.

    http://www.garmin.com/outdoor/products.html#mapping

    Garmin Legend Cx will cost about 50 bucks more than the Explorist 400 but gives you full color. It cost about the same as a Explorist 500 series which is a color unit.

    BTW: Garmin is offering a 50 dollar rebate on the Venture Cx and Legend Cx.

  8. #8
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsyptak
    I have the older Magellan Meridian with SD card.
    Darn shame Magellan discontinued ther Meridian series, they were a great GPS units at one time. They should have simply updated the software/hardware with the Meridians instead of discontinuing them for the Explorist.

    Here is a photo of how a Garmin color units looks with topo software.



    I know that that the Garmin topo does have roads, rivers, and such also. Both Magellan and Garmin have a simulator online that will show approx what level of detail of map you are going to get if you buy the topo software.

    I agree with the others, for bicycling, get the topo software regardless of the unit.

  9. #9
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Okay, so now I'm looking at this Garmin. What do you think? How is the price?

  10. #10
    Every day a winding road spinnaker's Avatar
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    The problem with the eTrex is that the screen is very small. Far to small for mapping IMHO. I like the 76C for cycling (I have the older 60C).

    Of course you could always go with the 276C and get voice prompts but it would mean you would need a dynomo and figure a way to mount the whole thing. I saw pictures of someone that actually did this!

  11. #11
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    Okay, so now I'm looking at this Garmin. What do you think? How is the price?
    That translates into $223 American plus whatever they are going to charge you for shipping. $173 if you include the rebate in the price. A pretty good price.

    The Venture Cx is a good unit but doesn't come with the MicroSD card and USB cable. MicroSD cards are cheap enough and you can buy the USB cable cheap enough (or if you have mini-USB cable for a digital camera, you may already own the cable - usually under ten dollars). Even if you would upgrade to the Legend CX, the MicroSD card that they give you is only 64mb, so you'll end up buying a bigger one anyone.

    The 76cx will run you about twice the price of the Venture Cx but like spinmaker said, it has a larger display screen (and I'll add, a much larger unit)

    Display specs.
    76Cx - Display: 1.5” W x 2.2” (3.3 cubic inches) H, 2.6”-diagonal, 256-color, transflective TFT (160 x 240 pixels)
    Venture Cx - Display: 1.3"W x 1.7"H; (2.21 cubic inches) 256 color transflective TFT; display 176x220 pixels
    Explorist 500 - The display is slightly larger than the Venture Cx but only has a 16-color 122x160 pixel screen

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    Okay, so now I'm looking at this Garmin. What do you think? How is the price?
    I think you're going about this the wrong way.

    I have the Garmin Legend CX after losing my original Legend and to be honest, I hardly use the built in maps and don't download them into the unit. You don't need color or even the map software because these are really extras that just increase the price of the unit.

    First, if you have to start creating a new route while on the road, you could be in a lot of trouble. The software moves painfully slow (due to the microprocessor) and developing new routes while the screen refreshes takes time and you really need a large computer screen to develop efficient routes while avoiding highways and dangerous interchanges. It's ALWAYS better to develop routes at home on your computer screen when you have time to analyze the road and upload them to your GPS. Furthermore, the little buttons and small screen also add to the difficulty in making a route on the fly. To be honest, I hate having to develop a route while I'm on the road on will only do this if necessary.

    As a result, I develop all my routes at home and my trips with the GPS go smoothly. I DON'T need to look at the "map screen" and simply follow the screen with the "ARROW" and it points to all the turns and beeps when I have to make one! I repeat, I DON'T look at the "map screen" on a road trip! If I have to look at the map, it's because I made a huge mistake in a route and choose one that's too fast to cycle.

    Using the above procedure, I can use ANY GPS to get me from point A to B. I can use a cheapest Garmin GPS without any built in maps or topo software and it would work out just fine so long as the trip's routes were planned ahead of time with PC software or by hand! That's correct, you don't even need to buy the Garmin software and can just buy a used copy of Microsoft Streets and Trips and type in the coordinates by hand to develop your routes. I did this for a whole year and it worked out fine. The only reason I purchased the Garmin software was to avoid typing and save time. Quite frankly, I like Streets and Trips better and wish they would have an option to upload routes into my GPS.

    You can have a fully functional used Garmin GPS on your bicycle with a used copy of Streets and Trips for about $150.00 dollars and it would be just as good as mine that cost about $500.00 in total. I think cost what's keeping people from enjoying this incredible technology. It does not have to be expensive.

    I think it's much more important to develop ENJOYABLE routes before going out on the road and focus less on all the features. Spend time creating routes that allow you to explore places you've never been to before. Trust me, you'll enjoy the trip a lot more than standing on the side of the road trying to create way-points. Should I lose this GPS, my next one will probably be a regular Garmin Legend without any color, megabytes of ram or built in detailed maps.

    Enjoy the GPS world and start exploring.
    Last edited by Dahon.Steve; 09-11-06 at 09:39 AM.

  13. #13
    Senior Member stokell's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
    I think you're going about this the wrong way.
    You may be right. Here is what I want to use a GPS for:

    • I usually use maps and charts to plan my trips. Often I go on sideroads, rail trails and tow paths, that apparently are not on the maps provided for the GPS units.
    • I'm not sure I would do any route planning on tour other than to get around an obstruction. Since the maps don't indicate how bike friendly roads are, again the GPS is not that useful.
    • I stealth camp and my wife is concerned that she doesn't know at night exactly where I am. She calls this 'knowing where to find the body'. I imagine just a plain GPS with longs and lats will provide CSI with the info.


    So it seems I'm not buying a GPS this time around.

    Thanks guys!

  14. #14
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    Fair enough my friend. I guess the bottom line is any GPS that you feel comfy with. The only thing I'll add is to actually play around with the unit before you buy it, something you can't do online. Buy one at a department store that has a liberal return policy like Walmart or similiar. I've played around with several GPS units this way.

    It took me a bit to find the right GPS for me including returning a few of them after I bought them.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by stokell
    You may be right. Here is what I want to use a GPS for:

    • I usually use maps and charts to plan my trips. Often I go on sideroads, rail trails and tow paths, that apparently are not on the maps provided for the GPS units.
    • I'm not sure I would do any route planning on tour other than to get around an obstruction. Since the maps don't indicate how bike friendly roads are, again the GPS is not that useful.
    • I stealth camp and my wife is concerned that she doesn't know at night exactly where I am. She calls this 'knowing where to find the body'. I imagine just a plain GPS with longs and lats will provide CSI with the info.


    So it seems I'm not buying a GPS this time around.

    Thanks guys!
    >>>>>I usually use maps and charts to plan my trips. Often I go on sideroads, rail trails and tow paths, that apparently are not on the maps provided for the GPS units.<<<<<

    True.

    >>>>>I'm not sure I would do any route planning on tour other than to get around an obstruction. Since the maps don't indicate how bike friendly roads are, again the GPS is not that useful.<<<<<

    I can tell most of the time today. Here are some hints.

    1. The Garmin map software will have fast roads painted red. Those roads are to be avoided.

    2. If you see a road on a map that is a straight line for 10 or 20 miles, that highway is also to be avoided.

    3. If you see a road that has the word "Hill" or "Mountain" named after it. Then it probably won't be too bad and will more be safe but a difficult climb.

    4. Interchanges and that included on and off ramps are to be avoided

    I still think you can get value from a GPS by knowing if you're heading in the right direction. I don't think you'll need a unit with all the bells but just one with a basic map.

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