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Garmin 60CSx Review

Garmin 60CSx

Getting a new GPS was a tough decision – our old Garmin GPS III plus still functions admirably. A REI sale on the GPSMap 60CSx proved to be too tempting and we upgraded the eight year old III plus. Overall I am very happy with the decision, mainly because the 60CSx has a color screen that greatly improves readability and use. The antenna on the newer GPS can also pull in satellites much better than the III plus – at first I thought we would have to install an external antenna but with the improved electronics of the 60CSx this is not necessary.

The GPS has been an invaluable piece of equipment. Upgrading the internal memory to 512mb, I comfortably downloaded all the relevant maps with plenty of room to spare for tracks. In an insecure environment, when we are concerned about the flashiness of the Toughbook, the GPS can be used on its own to navigate using the downloaded maps. Most of the maps are about ten years old, but have been fairly reliable in most places.

The GPS cradle is zip-tied to the RAM mount for the computer and when connected via USB it uses USB for power, thus conserving the batteries. The nicest thing about the NAV system is that all components can be pulled from the car when we leave it for the night and there are no flashy bits to tempt robbers. Since the GPS is eminently portable we have used it extensively for hiking as well.

The GPS is used in conjunction with Garmin nRoute running on the Panasonic Toughbook with a variety of map sets. Garmin WorldMap maps were a good start, but we have been using more detailed and routeable map sets from the web. MapCenter and Garmin Map Search are two sites I have used to find free Garmin maps. The Garmin MapSource software communicates with the GPS and allows for the download of routes and waypoints. It can also convert these into GoogleEarth data, albeit a bit slowly. This is how I build the .kml files that power the Maps page on Alongdrive. The turn-by-turn directions work pretty well with routable map sets but WorldMap maps are not routeable so no directions for those maps. One cannot combine routeable and non-routeable maps for download into the GPS, it will choke.

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