Forum: Misc. GPS Equipment Information
Topic: Garmin IIIPlus - a brief review
started by: Quinn

Posted by Quinn on Aug. 17 2001,7:22 pm
Now I am aware that many of you have your own opinions on GPSR's, but I wanted to speak my mind on the IIIPlus unit made my Garmin for a moment if I may.
I have looked around many forums that have postings of people asking what is the best unit to but for Geocaching as they are just getting into the sport and want a reliable unit. It amazes me some of the answers that come from this as a result. First off I don't think people should be giving someone new to the sport feedback on which unit is better than the next unless they have actually tested out a few themselves. The other day I saw the very question I mentioned above pop up in a thread and the answer that one person gave was "the Etrex". Now please, for all you Etrex owners out there don't try to hang me until you hear me through. I thought about this persons answer for a bit and then it came to me that this was the only unit this person has had, thus he could not base a firm opinion on what is better than the next, as of course, this was the best unit he has had.
Now I for one have had the good fortune to be able to test several GPSR's over the course of several months, and over all the tests I have ran I found in my opinion that the etrex was a dead last runner. why? well don't forget that I put it up against some true heavy weights in the GPS world, one being the IIIPlus, The Vista and the Map76. Will the Etrex work just as well as the IIIPlus? sure will, as long as tree cover is not too heavy, but this is what I am getting at. Tree cover in the area where I am from is severe in the summer months, and thus can really put a Geocacher to the test when it comes to finding those caches. My first buy was the IIIPlus close to a year ago, I then bought the Vista which was found to be my biggest mistake. I love all the features that come with the Vista, i love the size and the memory cap it has, I even loved the way it was very easy to contain and use with a single hand, But what I was looking for was a unit that could cut through all those tree's, and the Vista just could not do what the IIIPlus did with little trouble. Several times side by side I ran the IIIPlus and the Vista while out caching, and over and over the Vista kept losing sat contact and put me at my wits end, the IIIPlus on the other hand stayed on it's mark and always got me to point "B" withoput too much trouble at all. So out went the Vista and in came the Map76.
The map76 has a very nice and large screen for us older guys that need to squint some to se what we are looking at, it also holds some nice bragging rights to 8 megs of memory for tons of waypoint and mapping plots. Water proof,waas, nice antenna with ext antenna cap all rolled into this unit. But out of the box and tested side by side to the IIIPlus, it could not keep up with the trusty IIIPlus. Now both these units when tested ran about or a bit over 300.00 US each, so I still held on tight to the IIIPlus when I went caching, But I was willing to try one more thing to see if I could make the map76 a bit more receptive to the sats. I had the great pleasure of meeting Mr. Bowter some months back and he got me Interested in the External Antenna that Garmin makes for several of it's units, I decided to jump on board and give advancedgps a call to help me out. When I first took delivery of the antenna I quickly popped it on the map76 and ran outside with both units in hand. I sat them on the picnic table and turned them both on at the same time, the map76 jumped first to find 9 sats and the IIIPlus found a strong 7. Now I realize that unit to unit things can and will be a bit different so I took them both out in the woods for the true test, and yes! finally the map76 with it's external antenna kept up with the IIIPlus without a slip. Now I have two great units that I use out caching and trust them both completely, mind you that the Map76 needs the ext ant to keep pace, but I am happy all the more.
So for out of the box reliability, go with the IIIPlus, but if you have the extra bucks to dish out, the Map76 with the ext ant can also be a very wise choice.
Now at the top of this post you need to remember that I am no pro at giving a solid opinion, so before you run to that GPSR store make sure you do some research and be sure you are getting what you really want. I have never owned a magellan GPSR so my opinions are only based on the units I have mentioned. I am certain however that there are other units out there just as good and maybe even better than the IIIPlus, but if you do decide to go with it you sure did not make the wrong move.     Happy Caching!
Posted by Gimpy on Aug. 18 2001,1:16 am
As you probably all know, I've beat this topic to death on the other forum & got nothing but guff from others.I have done an incredible amount of comparison testing with all 3 units that Quinn speaks of. I have gone through every variation of tree cover imaginable playing the juggling act with the III Plus, the MAP76 & the Vista. I would love to be able to say that the money I invested in the MAP76 along with the Garmin external antenna produced for me a more reliable unit. It is just not the case. I am so sure about this that I was almost going to post that I would bet the cost of a round trip plane ticket from wherever a doubter is located to bring a unit on that could out-do the III Plus under heavy tree cover. But I didn't want to turn it into a pissing contest. I would love to see a unit that could hold a sat. fix better than the III Plus on a hike to GeoRiddlers Genesee County Forest cache or Delta Teams Fish Box. In the price range of the units we buy, I don't believe a superior unit exists. To say that any eTrex is comparable is ludicrous. If my top of the line eTrex, the Vista, won't compare, which one will. As Quinn has stated, I have not had the opportunity to take out a Mag., so I can't comment on them either. And as Bob Bouter has stated, sure I can still find about any cache out there with the Vista. But I have this character defect that most people refer to as impatience. I don't want to spend an hour to find a cache that the III Plus will take me to in 20 minutes. And if I'm 3/4 of a mile into some deep woods when it starts to get dark, I want to go to the breadcrumb trail or backtrack option & walk out the same way I walked in. Or at least be able to hit the goto to the waypoint I marked at the car. Can't do this very well if your GPS doesn't know where you are because it can't hold a fix on the sats..Could I get back out with the use of a flashlight & compass? I think so. But do I want to screw around with this? No. I think of it like this. If I want to change the shocks in my car, to get the nut off to remove the shock, I've got an open end wrench & a socket wrench. Will either wrench do the job? Probably. But which one will I use? The socket. So call me lazy. There's that character defect again. I in no way am attempting to say that the MAP76 or the Vista are lousy units. I really like all 3 & there are certainly instances where I'll use one of the others over the III Plus. I much prefer the screen & some other options of the MAP76 over the III Plus. I love the compactness and the storage capacity of the Vista over the III Plus. But the bottom line is that if I am heading out the door to go after a cache or to find a USGS survey marker to check the accuracy of my units, the only unit that I know is going to effortlessly take me to where I want to go under any conditions, is the III Plus. Maybe it's the moisture content in the leaves in the Northeast. Or the satellite configuration at the particular times that I was out. I don't know, but I do know what I've experienced. It's not the perfect all around unit, but that unit has not been marketted yet. If this were just my opinion, I would not be so adamant about the subject. I consider it to be fact based upon hours upon hours of comparison hikes & until someone can prove me wrong, I stand by it. When it comes right down to it, it's really not that big a deal. But when I have spent as much time on something as I have this, and share my findings with others in an attempt to maybe aid them in the purchase of their first GPS or an upgrade, I get goofy when they tell me I'm goofy & I must be wrong. Does that make any sense? See, now I've gone & rambled on about this subject again. I'll stop now. :)
Posted by YardBoy on Aug. 18 2001,8:05 am
I bought the 贍 eTrex in April to see if I'd like the sport. It got me to 49 straight caches, tho some of them took over an hour due to NaviFritzing under tree cover & between gullies. I got a lot of extra exercise with the eTrex, but the III+ arrived yesterday. My time & comfort are worth the 趸 (lets me fit in some Georgeing too) :cool:

(Edited by YardBoy at 10:06 am on Aug. 18, 2001)

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