July 30, 2005

GPS Review: Garmin eTrex Legend vs. Magellan eXplorist 300

Continuing our series of head to head reviews (the first being the Garmin Streetpilot 2720 vs. the Magellan Roadmate 760), today we have a review of the Garmin eTrex Legend vs. the Magellan eXplorist 300. A lot of people have been asking about how they compare, and here is a quick rundown of the features and our take on the subject.

Both of these units have a nice small handheld form factor which sets them up firmly for use in the woods, geocaching, hiking or biking. Both come with base US maps loaded which gives you a mile high view of towns, highways and basic features of the landscape. They do NOT give you local roads and points of interest out of the box.

Mapping - Advantage Garmin eTrex Legend
The big difference here is that the Garmin Legend can accept and download optional maps from Garmin. The maps (around $100), get you the ability to download points of interest (food, lodging, gas stations, etc) and local road detail. The issue with the Garmin Legend (vs. more expensive units) is that you can only do this through a serial connection (can you say S-L-O-W), and that you can only download 8MB of information. This translates into maybe a map area about a quarter the size of New England or something similar (fairly dense roads in many urban areas drive up the load). This is fine if you hag in one area, but will be annoying if you frequently go to other areas of the country as this will have you deleting your home area maps, uploading new ones, then upon your return do the reverse. If you want local roads - Buy the Garmin eTrex Legend, then the optional maps on cd. Another option within the Magellan line is to upgrade to the Magellan eXplorist 400 that can accept additional maps.

Additional Features - Advantage Magellan eXplorist 300
Other features included in the Magellan eXplorist 300 that we like are the Altimeter, Compass and the thermometer. Why do you need these? The Altimeter is a barometric pressure based altimeter, which can also give you some info about the local pressure trend. This can be helpful if you want to understand what is happening with the weather and a potential storm coming. The thermometer is always helpful when you are out on the trail; I wish more GPS units designed for outdoor use had them. Finally, the compass is a good thing to have if you are moving at a slow rate (i.e. hiking) and you need a fix on a direction. While the GPS can be a decent indicator of where you have been and where you are going, sometimes the added accuracy of a compass can be important. If you want these features and can get by without the detailed local maps, buy the Magellan eXplorist 300.

In most other ways, these units are similar, highly accurate WAAS technology, easy to use interfaces, route tracking, lots of waypoints, etc. Here at the GPS Lodge, we require mapping in our GPS units, and detailed mapping at that. If you are going to use this thing on the roads, you need the detailed maps to get you there. We use our GPS units a lot for bike route planning, and it just does not make sense to have a GPS unit without the local maps. the Garmin Legend is a good entry level mapping choice. If you are going to be in the woods, or in a similar off road application like Geocaching, then the local roads are not so important, and maybe the Altimeter, Compass and Thermometer features on the Magellan eXplorist 300 are a big plus for you.

Want more on the Garmin eTrex Legend?
Read our full Garmin eTrex Legend Review. If you are considering any of the other eTrex GPS Receivers, like the eTrex, the eTrex Camo, the eTrex Summit, the eTrex Vista, read our eTrex line Overview.

Finally if you are interested in teh eTrex Legend C or the eTrex Vista C, read our GPS Review Update: Garmin eTrex Legend C and garmin Vista C article.

Read More in: GPS Reviews | Garmin GPS News | Garmin GPS Reviews | Handheld GPS Reviews | Head to Head GPS Reviews | Magellan GPS Reviews

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Posted by Scott Martin at July 30, 2005 1:37 PM

Recent Comments

How come Magellan gps explorist does not take decimals on the ddmmss format like Garmin gps?

Posted by: vic t at August 22, 2006 5:55 PM
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