Garmin's New Oregon GPS Unit
Hot on the heels of the Colorado line that was introduced only 6 months ago comes the Oregon line-up. Besides cosmetic differences, the main differentiator between these two units is the fact that the Colorado uses Garmin's "Rock 'n' Roll" click-wheel while the Oregon features a touch-screen interface to input data and make menu selections. While I've been a long-time fan of Garmin, the Oregon line, like the Colorado line, leaves me feeling ambivalent about the company's direction.
Up until the Colorado series was introduced, I felt that the 60 and 76 CSx and Cx models were the pinnacle of outdoor GPS design, suitable for a wide range of outdoor activities, ranging from hiking to fourwheeling. Besides providing a remarkably accurate and speedy signal processor, it was ruggedly built and supported a wide variety of mapping products, from topographic maps to street-level detail maps that provided turn-by-turn navigation and automatic route-generation.
With the introduction of the Colorado, I initially thought the 60/76 series would be knocked off their thrones but after carefully reading the specs and feedback from early adopters, I no longer think that is the case. Performance-wise, there doesn't seem to be a significant improvement. The Colorado had some improved Geocaching support, and that snazzy control dial, but that was it for the big improvements. With the Oregon, the primary difference between it and the Colorado is the removal of the control dial and the addition of a touchscreen. Other than that, the Oregon and Colorado units are essentially the same.
For the fourwheeler who wants a very full-featured, high-performing GPS, I find myself in the unusual position of recommending a unit that is two steps behind the latest Garmin product. Buy the 60/76Cx or the 60/76CSx. You'll save at least $100 compared to the equivalent Colorado or Oregon model. If you absolutely hate the tried-and-true rocker pad interface used on those units, then consider the Oregon whose touchscreen should make manually entering waypoint coordinates or search terms much, much easier. But be prepared to pay $100 more for that convenience.
Here's Garmin's press release:
Garmin's Touchscreen OregonT Series Gives Outdoor Enthusiasts the World at their Fingertips Olathe, Kan./July 10, 2008/PR Newswire/ - Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN), the global leader in satellite navigation, today introduced the Oregon series of handheld GPS devices for outdoor, marine and fitness enthusiasts, combining an intuitive touchscreen interface, rugged, resilient design and a variety of preloaded mapping options.
"The Oregon's vibrant screen is responsive to the touch of your finger, yet resistant to the forces of nature," said Dan Bartel, Garmin's vice president of worldwide sales. "Combining the touchscreen interface of our iconic automotive devices with the preloaded features of the acclaimed Colorado series makes this the ultimate outdoor handheld."
Easy to learn and simple to use, the waterproof Oregon features a high-sensitivity GPS receiver, preloaded mapping and a high-resolution, color 3-inch screen that reacts as users tap or drag through menus and options. On a mountain or an ocean, satellite reception is even faster than before thanks to Garmin's new HotFixTM feature, which automatically calculates and stores critical satellite information and can use that information to quickly calculate a position without waiting for data collection from the satellites.
The Oregon 400t gives hikers preloaded U.S. topographic maps in state-of-the-art 3D elevation perspective. The Oregon 400i offers anglers shoreline details, depth contours and boat ramps for U.S. inland lakes and navigable rivers. The Oregon 400c is a saltwater specialist, providing chart coverage for the coastal U.S. and Bahamas. The Oregon 300 features a worldwide basemap with shaded relief. The Oregon 200 provides a basemap that can be easily supplemented with additional mapping or charts for your adventures on land or at sea.
Garmin knows its users have many interests, so the Oregon lets you customize five profiles - automotive, marine, recreation, fitness or geocaching - making the most beneficial features for each activity the easiest to access through quick shortcuts.
The Oregon series plays well with others, as the 400t, 400c, 400i and 300 allow for wireless exchange of tracks, waypoints and geocaches between other Oregon units and Colorado models. Each of these models is equipped with a barometric altimeter and electronic compass and is compatible with Garmin's heart-rate monitors and speed/cadence sensors.
Geocaching is even easier with the Oregon, which quickly downloads online information for every cache, such as location, terrain, difficulty, hints and description, so that you don't have to tote printouts with you. Cachers and collectors will be hunting for a limited-edition geocoin minted to commemorate the launch of the Oregon series. Oregon users can experience WherigoT, the newest GPS-based activity from Groundspeak, the people who made geocaching a worldwide phenomenon. Wherigo (pronounced "where I go") is a toolset for creating and completing adventure games, historical tours or other innovative activities in the real world.
Weighing only 6.8 ounces with 16 hours of life from two AA batteries, the Oregon has a microSD card slot that is ideal for loading additional MapSource detail. For more about the Oregon's features, pricing and availability, go to www.garmin.com and www.garmin.blogs.com.
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