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  1. #1
    Registered User Persie's Avatar
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    Default Garmin Oregon 550 or 550t ?

    Looking at the Garmin® Oregon 550 GPS, wondering the difference between the base model and the "T".

    Any opinions on the 550 would be welcome.

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    Registered User FatHead64's Avatar
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    Default Garmin Oregon 550 or 550t ?

    In Garmin land, the T always means built-in topo maps. You don't need to buy/add them.

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    Registered User Persie's Avatar
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    The 550 on its own though is a good purchase?

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    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Love the T- you don't need the topo - but it is the Mercedes of the units.. Wish it had a brighter wider screen - but it's fine.
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

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    The T only has 100k maps. That's good in that they are nation wide maps that also has routeable roads, but you'll probably want 24k topo maps for backpacking which also has routeable roads.

    You can find free topo maps for most areas. The biggest differences are that roads on them either aren't routeable, or don't work as well as Garmin's. Garmin's maps also tend to have more points of interest, like campgrounds, stores, post offices, etc.

    Ultimately the decision depends on what maps your plan to buy and what trouble you're willing to go through to install free maps. If you want a gps that you can turn on and hit the trail without messing around with extra software or a computer, then get the 550t.

    Also, you should know that the camera won't work until the gps fully boots. That means you might have to wait half a minute or so to take a picture. I would rate the 550-class much higher if the boot order was changed to allow pictures to be taken almost immediately after hitting the power button.

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    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Well we have heard this before lefteye... this is not a biggy, in a few years the 24 k maps will be included.
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

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    Registered User FatHead64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Persie View Post
    The 550 on its own though is a good purchase?
    I am a Garmin fan. I have a Colorado (no longer made) and the Oregon is a very similar unit. The big difference is that it is a touch screen to the Colorado's buttons. Most people are quite used to that, so from a user side, not a big deal. Harder to use with gloves, however. As I would with a smart phone w/touch, I would make sure it is somewhat protected when not in your hands, ie a case or "glove" of some sort.

    Again, based on Colorado and not specifically the Oregon, the more advanced units like this suck the batteries down even faster. I have a GPSMap 60C which is much more miserly with battery usage. I don't know how big a deal that is to you - depends on how much you intend to use it. If you intend continuous use, I suspect even Lithium batteries would be on the order of a set per day. Just checking in at campsites or if needing to figure out where you are, might do much better. I went thru a lot of batteries in my geocaching days. NiCds made me feel better, but the amount of charge and cold weather performance is inferior to even regular alkalines.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Owl View Post
    Well we have heard this before lefteye... this is not a biggy, in a few years the 24 k maps will be included.
    You may have, but Persie had a reason for asking. In any case, the 550 won't be sold in a few years. I think it's already vastly overpriced for what it offers. I won't be buying another Garmin handheld gps unless it offers 4 times the screen resolution and a much faster processor. Ideally they'd also change the boot order to make the camera more usable and have inertia sensors to allow positional updates to be made without gps...the latter would be a way of conserving battery life, and is ancient cold war technology.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FatHead64 View Post
    As I would with a smart phone w/touch, I would make sure it is somewhat protected when not in your hands, ie a case or "glove" of some sort.
    A case isn't a bad idea, but I think a glove is a bad idea. I had one and lost it after a couple weeks on the trail. It made the screen hard to see and use. The glare from the glove's screen protector meant the screen brightness had to be cranked up to overcome the glare, and that's what made the touchscreen hard to use. It was also kind of hard to tell where the power button was, and then glare made it difficult to see if the gps was booting up or not. It wasn't long before I removed the gps from the glove every time I used it, and losing it was inevitable.

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    Registered User Wise Old Owl's Avatar
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    Well it will be called the 660 by then... my intent was not to start an argument... You havent seen overpriced yet - its coming.
    Dogs are excellent judges of character, this fact goes a long way toward explaining why some people don't like being around them.

    Woo

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    Registered User FatHead64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wise Old Owl View Post
    Well it will be called the 660 by then... my intent was not to start an argument... You havent seen overpriced yet - its coming.
    Oh - I think I have seen it and it's name is Montana....

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    The Montana has more pixels, but it's also much bigger and heavier. We have to remember that now these devices are competing against smartphones in many ways. Smartphones are faster, have a much nicer screen, are surprisingly tough and water resistant. The problems with smartphones is the software and maps, and arguably, not having AA batteries. For Garmin's sake, I hope they have a killer app ready to go in an instant because it won't take much longer than that to kill their handheld market.

    It's too bad this thing never got off the ground because it had some serious potential.
    http://www.satsportsgps.com/satski/satsportgps.html

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    Registered User FatHead64's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by leaftye View Post
    The Montana has more pixels, but it's also much bigger and heavier. We have to remember that now these devices are competing against smartphones in many ways. Smartphones are faster, have a much nicer screen, are surprisingly tough and water resistant. The problems with smartphones is the software and maps, and arguably, not having AA batteries. For Garmin's sake, I hope they have a killer app ready to go in an instant because it won't take much longer than that to kill their handheld market.

    It's too bad this thing never got off the ground because it had some serious potential.
    http://www.satsportsgps.com/satski/satsportgps.html
    I think the ForeRunners are pretty cool, but the interface, obviously, leaves something to be desired. The DeLorme GPSrs are actually pretty good as well and seem to be more open with maps and such. I had a friend get one and he was quite happy with it. I believe they also run cheaper than the Garmins.

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    I have the oregon 550t. Picked up at a big box wholesaler for $229.00. It does what it's supposed to and you save about $100 or more buying it preloaded with the topo maps. I find them accurate enough for backcountry nav., particularly if you are already carrying a map. It runs on AA's so that helps on longer trips. decent color screen.
    See ya when I get there.

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    Registered User Persie's Avatar
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    I am hoping that I can purchase "trail maps" frpm either Garmin or a third party co. I know Garmin sells actual trail guide/topo maps for the AT & PCT. Another reason I want a GPS is I was doing a training hike with a full backpack in preparation for a section hike on the AT in the Spring recently - about 7 miles into a 12 mile loop, the trail crossed a road and couldn't find it on the other side of the road. Had a trail map/guide that kinda showed where it should be, but couldn't find it. Paper map also wasnt clear on if I decided to road walk back to my car, which way do I go. Hence, my 1st ever hitch hike. Coulda back tracked the 7 miles but sunlight was short...real eye opener. Hoping if I have a handheld GPS I can start out next hike much better prepared for the unexpecting as local trails near home are horribly well marked.

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    Registered User FatHead64's Avatar
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    My personal preference would be for the T version with the topo maps. May not be the best, but they are in there. If the Oregon is like the Colorado, you can purchase other maps on the SD card. Save that for road maps (what I do with my Colorado) or if you are on, say, the AT, for the specialized AT map. Also, if you need more than the SD card, the topo maps aren't taking up "base memory" at that point since they are "firmware".

    Also, if you want other options, I don't have immediate references, but I have seen procedures where you can generate your own maps for a Garmin. There are several software packages involved, but it is doable. I have a co-worker that has done it. As a matter of fact, I believe he generated some interesting aerial photo maps for himself.

    My 2 cents - probably depends on your budget, too.

  17. #17
    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
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    I've got the 450t with the 100k maps and the first thing I did was turn them off and download the 24k maps that I needed from gpsfiledepot.com.

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    Registered User Persie's Avatar
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    10-K - ...went to gpsdepot.com... couldn't locate a file named "24k"...?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Persie View Post
    10-K - ...went to gpsdepot.com... couldn't locate a file named "24k"...?
    You might have to look at the details for each map. It should either say it's a 24k topo map or has 20 foot intervals for the elevation contours.

    You can install multiple maps on your gps. You can turn them all on at the same time, but usually it's much better if you only turn on one or two at a time. An example of this would be a topo map from gpsfiledepot and a second map that only has a trail overlay and some POIs. You can transfer the maps to the memory in the gps or to the microSD card. You can configure the gps to store picture on the microSD card, and you can put other non-gps files on the microSD card too.

    FatHead mentioned buying microSD card that have maps on them. While that is a very easy way to do things, I'm not sure if you'll be able to put anything else on that card.

  20. #20
    PCT, Sheltowee, Pinhoti, LT , BMT, AT, SHT, CDT 560 miles 10-K's Avatar
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    Just search for each state you want topos for. Also, my favorite of all is the file called "My Trails" which is a transparent map that overlays the topos and so far, with the exception of the Sheltowee Trace, has had just about every trail I've hiked on it

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