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Garmin Oregon 550t Handheld Color Mapping GPS Review
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Addie Bedford
(addiebedford) - MLife

Locale: Montana
Garmin Oregon 550t Handheld Color Mapping GPS Review on 08/11/2009 15:47:08 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Garmin Oregon 550t Handheld Color Mapping GPS Review

Jesse H.
(tacedeous) - MLife

Locale: East Bay, CA
cool toy :) on 08/11/2009 16:24:13 MDT Print View

sounds awesome for geocaching...
whats the MSRP?

Adrian B
(adrianb) - MLife

Locale: Auckland, New Zealand
Re: Garmin Oregon 550t Handheld Color Mapping GPS Review on 08/12/2009 04:01:19 MDT Print View

I don't know.. it's heavier than my Vista HCx, with less runtime. Is this progress?

Alan Dixon
(alandixon) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
MSRP? on 08/12/2009 09:33:13 MDT Print View

List Price: $599.99
Street price is around the same: $599.00

Prices unlikely to fall much in the next few months.

Alan Dixon
(alandixon) - MLife

Locale: Mid-Atlantic
Re: Re: Garmin Oregon 550t Handheld Color Mapping GPS Review on 08/12/2009 09:55:03 MDT Print View

>I don't know.. it's heavier than my Vista HCx, with less runtime. Is this progress?

Possibly so. You be the judge.

The Oregon 550t has pre-loaded 1:100K Topos for the whole US, a much larger and higher resolution map display, faster processor, much easier to use touchscreen, better GPS receiver, a better 3-axis compass, included 850 Mb built in memory, and a camera to mention a few improvements/advantages.

The increase of speed and ease of use due to the larger mapping display and touchscreen are significant. It takes a lot less scrolling and fiddling around to get the job done vs. the e-Trex series. Having quickly done your navigation, etc., you might put the Oregon away minutes earlier than the e-Trex.

As to battery life: the Oregon 550t testing was done with 1,900 mAh rechargeable NiMH batteries supplied with the Oregon. e-Trex runtime is given with approx 2,800-3,000 mAh non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. To make a fair comparison, using 2,800-3,000 mAh non-rechargeable alkaline batteries, the Oregon’s battery life should approach the e-Trex (i.e in the range of 25 hours). That’s impressive when you assume that a larger screen, faster processor, and more power hungry GPS receiver all have the potential to increase battery drain. You could also come close to this runtime using 2,700 mAh rechargeable NiMH batteries and keep your green conscious clear.

As to weight:
eTrex Vista HCx (5.95 oz, 169 g measured with alkaline batteries)
Oregon 550t 195 g (6.9 oz) with alkaline batteries

Is all that worth less than an ounce increase in weight?

Joe Kuster
(slacklinejoe) - MLife

Locale: Flatirons
Garmin Oregon 550t Handheld Color Mapping GPS Review on 08/12/2009 10:57:17 MDT Print View

While I won't be upgrading for the camera, I have a Oregon 400T and have been wildly impressed considering I moved up from a Geko 301.

It's one of the few things you cannot evaluate on specs alone, get one in your hand and demo the unit. If nothing else, I'm sold on mapping GPS's and the touch screen works even with gloves so it made life so much nicer.

Edited by slacklinejoe on 08/12/2009 11:19:10 MDT.

WV Hiker

Locale: West Virginia
chipset info on 08/25/2009 09:41:29 MDT Print View

"Garmin considers its GPS unit processors and reception chipsets proprietary information and will not release details on them"

Maybe Garmin won't release details but they can be found. Check and you find the following:

"The Oregon 550t I received is running software 2.10 and GPS software 3.40. I’ve taken the unit apart and I can confirm that it is using the ST Cartesio chipset like the Oregon x00 series. I was hopeful for a different chipset given the issues that the Cartesio has under tree cover at walking speeds"

I'll stick with my Garmin 60 series with the proven SirSTAR chip and use real paper maps.

Edited by vdeal on 08/25/2009 09:42:19 MDT.

Chuck Clark
(chuckc1971) - F
My results on 09/12/2009 21:56:48 MDT Print View

Based on the reviews of this site, I sprung for a 550t over the DeLorme Earthmate PN-40 for a bikepacking trip. I loaded up 3 tracks and was able to use the unit immediately. Being a GPS device newb, that was awesome! Even under an often heavy canopy (Eastern KY), I had no trouble with getting a satellite signal nor did I ever lose it except, of course, in a tunnel. Battery life with the 15 second factory dim feature was excellent. Even tapping the screen for full brightness several times an hour resulted in my bettering the 16 hours reported here. Unlike the reviews on Amazon, I was very happy with the bike mount. As someone who has used zip ties extensively in the past, there is an art of getting the proper tightness with a set of needle nose pliers which makes the mount work perfect. Because I can keep the screen bright all the time, I plan to use this unit full time for my bike computer outside of bikepacking use. I don't have anything to compare this unit to outside of an old Garmin Forerunner 201. The 550t connects to satellites much faster and obviously has more backpacking use.

Justin McMinn
(akajut) - F

Locale: Central Oklahoma
Garmin 550t Photos on 09/14/2009 15:51:42 MDT Print View

Here's a few photos that I took with the 550t on my first trip with it.,-115.963923,13,k/

I didn't have big expectations since it use a cellphone style image sensor, but I was surprised with how they turned out.

Edited by akajut on 09/22/2009 07:54:15 MDT.

Lola Nunn
(lolagotit) - F
Garmin Oregon 550t: extending battery life on 09/21/2009 20:11:30 MDT Print View

Have just recently upgraded from a eTrex Vista Hcx to the Oregon 550t. I feel that the touchscreen, camera, and other improvements far outweigh the slightly dimmer screen of the 550t (compared to the Vista). An REI Outdoor School instructor for GPS navigation pointed out that the electronic compass of the 550t (or any GPS unit w/electic compass) eats up 50% of your battery life unless it is deactivated. You don't need the electric compass turned on unless you are using Sight 'n Go, anyway. For instance, if you are geocaching, the compass screen will still idicate your bearing and distance once you have selected Go To. You don't need to activate the electic compass. But if you need to use it, don't forget to recalibrate each time you change batteries.

Justin McMinn
(akajut) - F

Locale: Central Oklahoma
Re: Garmin Oregon 550t: extending battery life on 09/22/2009 07:53:25 MDT Print View

Great tip!