Forum: GPS Tech Center
Topic: Magellan 315 vs Garmin etrex Venture
started by: bob

Posted by bob on May 22 2002,8:38 am
It seems that the 315 has the advantage do to the anatena system but does it really matter?
Also the Garmin has its WAAS technology (does that matter)
It seems that the 315 may have a locking problem.
These units cost about the same.
As you can see Im new to this but very excited!
I want to make the right disision on my first gps unit
and not be sorry two months later or worse be in the
woods with my kids and not find a thing.
Thanks for any replys
Posted by Quinn on May 22 2002,12:56 pm

I fully understand your concern about not wanting to make the wrong choice, and I promise I won't say anything in this post unless I have tested it over and over and that it is pure fact, so with that being said lets get started...

First off when you mention Garmin are you talking of the base unit Etrex (yellow)? this unit goes for around 100.00 give or take a five or ten spot.
So lets assume this is what you mean and better yet lets just cut to the chase and compare the 315 to the entire Etrex line from the Yellow to the Legend and Vista.

The 315 unit by Magellan is a very receptive GPSR, and no less receptive as it's larger brother the Map330 as they both have the "Quadrifiler" antenna system. The reception of a GPS is the most important thing there is for the simple reason that if a GPS can't hold sat locks and show you where you are as well as where you want to go then what good is it? All the fancy mapping doo-dads, compass, Berometer, tones and screen colors will mean squat if the unit can't even lock onto sats.

The Etrex line consist of patch antenna systems which are far less receptive in my book, thus if you get into any medium or heavy tree cover or Gorge there is a good chance that you will lose contact with the sats and left standing there scratching your head.
I was the owner of the Etrex Vista (Garmins most expensive and top shelf etrex unit) which sold at the time I had it for 329.00US. This was the worse GPS I have ever owned! It had tons of features like the compass and mapping with large memory, but when I hit the trails it lost sat contact almost everytime.
Now don't get me wrong, I am not "Anti Garmin" as a matter of fact a couple of my favorite GPSR's were made by Garmin, this being the IIIPlus ( about 249.00US) and the Garmin V (about 359.00US with lock codes costing extra for mapping)
Both those units are very receptive and if in your price range should also be considered as something you will never regret buying.

But seeing as how we are talking about the 315 which you mentioned lets stick with that a moment...
The 315 when first put into retail sales was always a great reception GPSR, the only problem was that at certain walking speeds it would flip/flop the pointer due to trying to average the distance and location. This is what you were hearing about but since then Magellan has come out with a software patch to fix that problem and now the unit works awesome!

The screen resolution is good at 160 x 104 and also comes with the "Backlit " feature. It has 9 Graphical Navigation screens and will allow you to enter 500 landmarks and 20 reversible routes with 30 legs each route.
The 315 also has the "BackTrack" feature in case you or your group get lost, it's like a bread crumb trail.
They say the 315 will give you 15 hours of continuous use on it's battery life, but I have found this to be more like 12-13 which is still great compared to the 10 from Garmin.

So...between the 315 and the etrex which is the one you want? no question about it...go with the 315! and if you have a few extra bucks get the 330map which has plenty more options.
Posted by Hinge Thunder on May 22 2002,2:04 pm
Quinn, I am going to have to disagree with you. Having owned both units. I would go with the etrex.

Yes, the antenna on the etrex isn't quite as good as the 315, but I only ever one time under heavy tree cover that I totally lost sat lock, and couldn't get it back.

The auto-averaging of the 315 was a nightmare, but this has been fixed with the most recent patch. But in order to install the patch on the 315, you must have a cable which for the 315 costs about $30+shipping. (Though I have heard some of the ones being sold in stores already have the new patch, there are probably alot of pre-patch units in stock rooms).

On ther other hand, the etrex never had the averaging problem, but since a cable is always nice to have for loading coords, and patches, etrex cable can be had on ebay for about $10+shipping.

I also found the etrex overall friendlier to use than the 315. Though I did find it easier to manually enter coords into the 315.

The lanyard that comes with the etrex connects to the bottom and works well for hanging around your neck. The wristrap for the 315 connects to the screw that holds the battery cover on (which is in the middle of the back), isn't very usefull. I don't even use it on my newer Map330.

I liked my etrex much better than my 315, though all my experience with the 315 was before the autoaveraging fix.
Posted by Quinn on May 22 2002,3:03 pm
This is what I mean...the fix was the biggest downside of the 315, but now that it has been corrected this unit is by all means just as receptive as your 330. They are both the same unit with the exception of memory and mapping, but antenna wise they are exact.
I agree with you that before the fix took place the unit was a nightmare and was not good at locating caches, but now that the software has been corrected this is a thing of the past.
Also we just took delivery of two brand new 315's and both were updated so I don't see any problem with a retailer shipping out a unit with the update added, I would just ask to be certain before buying that the unit has the latest software version. For those of you in the Rochester, NY area that have the 315 with an old version and no cable to update it, please feel free to contact me and I'll help you out by lending you one of mine.

PC Medic was an owner of the Etrex (Yellow) as well, I am wondering what his thoughts are as far as comparing this to the map330 he has. Any other feedbacks?
Posted by bob on May 24 2002,9:31 am
Allright found a 315 for 102.00 and bought it,the software
rev is at 3.05. Hope that will suffice.
Now I will read read read and learn!!!
I didnt have any luck trying to get info on creating my own I/F
cable. Any sugestions.
Thanks for the help guys.
Posted by Quinn on May 24 2002,11:09 am

The latest version out for the 315 is version 3.15 and will be needed in order to fix the "auto averaging " feature which seems to confuse the heck out of the gps while caching or moving slow.

If you live local I can lend you my cable so you can update your unit, and in the meantime I will also see if I can find the info for making one of your own.
Posted by Hinge Thunder on May 24 2002,12:03 pm
Quinn, you can probably figure out the connections with a Mag cable, and multimeter. The trick is going the be the proprietary Mag connector that hooks to the back of the unit. The rest of the cable parts can be gotten at Radio Shack.
Posted by dave and jaime on May 25 2003,1:56 pm
you can check out < my 315 accessories web page > for some ideas on making a cable for the 300 series gps.  i also have a mounting bracket there.

the page is an ongoing work not yet finished yet, so some links may not work.

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