Rated 3 out of 5 by AzRoute66 Undecided?
I am writing this as a retired test engineer with a GPS background, so I have time to mess around with my GPS and the experience to understand what I am doing with it. I have owned a Explorist 610 and a 710. My recommendation is that if you are on the fence concerning a outdoor handheld GPS unit you should go with Garmin.
The Magellan Explorist product line has flaws in basic navigation, for example if you project a waypoint at a certain bearing and distance the unit will place that waypoint on the wrong bearing, thus at the wrong place, and navigate you to the incorrect location. It does not support polygons at all which are the basic construct for areas and boundaries. It also has flaws in that it has a closed architecture in some important areas, for example if you want to import a dataset of trails and primitive roads on your handheld you cannot color code those without doing them individually once they are loaded in the unit, or going thru a lot of steps to color them individually in their Vantage Point product. Also, their closed approach has led to difficulty in creating and/or finding user made map backgrounds. Take a look at the lack of availability of ready made Point of Interest files created for the Magellan Explorist as another example of problems of that nature.
But the main reason I would not choose Magellan is their joke of Customer Support. Customer Support responses are usually prompt and courteous and have no relevance at all to the issue presented. The best you can hope for is that they will say that your issue has been 'forwarded to the appropriate department' but will not even provide an expected date to receive feedback of any kind, which is accurate in a way as you will not receive any further feedback. I was fortunate enough to get a direct line of communication with their outdoor product development team and was devastated to learn that they were of no more help than Customer Support. I suggest that you visit all of the Magellan users forums that you can find (such as the new magellaninsiders - most of my specific issues are discussed there under the name of AzRoute66) - and take note of not only the problems, but the general attitude of the users' experience with Customer Support. I have never owned a Garmin, but my experience with the Explorist 510/610/710 made me better prepared to review the issues and experiences in the Garmin forums, and based on that I would recommend Garmin if you are undecided between the two.
January 14, 2013
Rated 1 out of 5 by ccarosca DOA
Touch screen totally unresponsive. Cannot even get past the setup screen where it's asking you to choose the language. Yes I removed the plastic film screen protector. I also updated to the latest firmware using the USB cable and still no touch screen. Furthermore, you must be able to work the touch screen to get the serial number so I cannot even register it with Magellan! Now I have to pay shipping to return it or drive over to Indiana to the nearest store to return it in person. Not sure if this was damaged in shipping but the packaging showed no signs of abuse so I am assuming simply a faulty unit.
April 11, 2012
Rated 5 out of 5 by pjinmonco Great Product - loaded with features
I've been using handheld GPS units since 2005 when I bought a Lowrance PHd from Bass Pro Shops. It was time to get an updated unit and I researched features and compared the Delorme PN-40 and PN-60, Garmin Oregon 450T, 550T and GPSMAP 62st and this Magellan eXplorist 610. After comparing physical & performance features such as display size, battery life, operating temperature, waterproof specs, then mapping & memory features such as maps included, ability to add maps, data card type and size, number of routes and track logs and finally features such as electronic compass, altimeter, camera, geocache-friendly and other features, I decided on the Magellan and have been very satisfied.
The touch screen is big and easy to view. It isn't as bright as the Delorme units or the Garmin 62st because it is a touchscreen, but I wanted as much screen size as possible because to me the more map are I can see, the better. As you move from low light to bright and back, it is very easy to adjust the brightness of the screen with the touch of the power button and then slide the brightness bar.
Battery life has been very good. I have used regular alkaline batteries (life about 6-8 hours) and lithium (14-16 hours) and have gone through 2 sets of batteries of each type in the unit. I prefer the lithium based on weight and performance. A great power saving feature of the 610 is the ability to put it into a suspend mode where the screen goes blank but the unit continues to record the track log (tap the power button and tap suspend). When you tap the power button again, the screen powers back on and the 610 retrieves the track log to show your movement.
The mapping software that came preloaded on the unit is excellent, using 24k topo maps. Different colorations for public, private and forest lands helps greatly in reading the maps. The elevation contour lines are a bit hard to see at some zoom levels because of the line color used, but Magellan has indicated that they will address this issue in a future software update.
The electronic compass works great and calibrates easily in just a few seconds. The altimeter improves in accuracy the longer the unit is on as barometric readings are gathered.
Here are some final comments based on about 40 hours of use.
It took an hour or so to put the correct finger touch on the screen so it would react to your movements. You might need more or less time based on how many other touchscreen products you have (cell phones, etc.).
Screen display is quite good in different lighting environments. Sometimes you have to tilt the screen to improve the contrast, but you figure it out rather quickly. The screen is easily read while wearing polarized sunglasses.
The signal lock is excellent. My old Lowrance would lose the signal lock if I walked more than a few feet into a building. I still had a 4-bar signal lock on the 610 throughout the same building. I bought a lanyard and case for the 610 at the same time I bought the unit. As you can see, the 610 has an open loop on the bottom of the unit. With the lanyard attached and hanging around your neck, the 610 hangs upside down. Even in this position, the 610 stays locked on the signal. After 20+ miles of hiking in various terrains, I have not had a signal break. (In the setup of the unit you can have it give you an audible signal if there is a signal break). When you first turn the 610 on, you do have to hold it upright to establish a signal lock, then can hang it upside down.
The camera works great. I have taken photos and video with the 610 and the resolution is very good.
If you are into geocaching, the 610 can easily store thousands of caches with loads of data about them.
Finally, you can download for free VantagePoint mapping software from the Magellan website to your home computer where you can import the maps from your 610 to give you access to the 24k topo maps, and then easily sync waypoints, routes and tracks between the computer and the 610. It's a great way to archive where you have been or route out your next adventure.
I am a member of a Search & Rescue team in western Colorado and have used my Lowrance on several missions. I know that the Magellan 610 will be a great addition to my gear when I head out on the next mission.
April 2, 2011