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Old 03-29-2008
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Garmin GPSmap 76CSx review

i posted this in the gear section as a response, but thought i would repost it here for reference:

i thought i'd give a user review of the Garmin GPSmap 76CSx since i've got so much useful info out of Sailnet but havent had much of a chance to return the favours.

I bought it at westmarine in early january 2008 as part of a promotion/sale (for some reason it is currently well over $100 more than what i paid). I have used it in the BVIs chartering in february and as a backup to my cockpit-mounted Garmin GPSmap 545 unit in coastal waters of British Columbia, where i live & sail. i previosuly used a small garmin GPS without charts/maps/fancy display as my backup.

i used it as my main navigation tool in the BVIs (since the footloose boat's chartplotter was a chartplotter in name only and the paper charts they provided looked like they came from the a paper placemat from macdonalds) and it really came through with flying colours. in BC i have been comparing it with the 545, and to be honest i like the useability of the smaller 76CSx better.

the 76CSx is different from the 76CS by the addition of altimiter/barometer and electronic compas. The unit is a bit big for a handheld 2.7" x 6.2" x 1.2" (50-70% larger than my smart phone)

It has 6 user configurable pages -
1. satellite - detection/signal strength/position
2. trip computer - where most of your user selectable info is displayed
3. Map page
4. compas page with additional user selectable/configurable numerical display boxes.
5. Altimiter/barometer page with graphical chart of altitude vs distance.
6. main menu - for selecting other functions

PROS:
- battery life is sufficient and uses two AAs (cheap)
- quite easy to use, reasonably intuitive
- has flexible, user configurable pages - very handy - can easily configure both type and format of displayed info.
- almost as many extra features as my 545, eg anchor drag, VMG/time & dist to destination etc, depth alarm, tides/currents,
- extremely fast to obtain a lock/fix when turned on - its quite impressive really - much faster than the 545.
- don't know much about GPS antennas and accuracy, but seems as accurate as the 545 (granted, i do not uses an extrenal antenna)
- is apparently not only waterproof (and it got soaked one day in the BVIs w/o problem) but also bouyant, though i have not had cause to test this second feature. i can also tell you that it is impervious to beer and red-wine.
- has altimiter (hopefully not a necessary feature for marine use) and a barometer (which is useful).
- electronic compas.
- waypoints are easier to use than my 545

CONS:
- attachment for lanyard isnt great
- for the size of the unit, the screen could be a bit larger
- resolution (180 x 240) isnt nearly as good as my smartphone/pda, which is a smaller unit.
- the screen brightness is user adjustable, of course, and is reasonably bright, but my cell phone/pda screen is much brighter - however, this is mitigated by the fact that in direct sunlight you can view it front lit by the sun.
- chart prices - it came with one unlock code which i used for the carribean. since i'm in canada none of the garmin products come preloaded with any of our charts - i did spend about $120 on west coast canada and charts. but i find that they do cover quite a wide area - all of the west coast of canada from puget sound to alaska and all of the carribean from including the southern half of florida to including the north coast of south america, both the large and small scale charts for all of these areas are included and while i wasnt thrilled about the price, i am 100% certain that buying all of the paper charts for these areas would be an order of magnitude more expensive.

overall i'm very happy with the purchase, though i hope the follow up model will have a larger, higher resolution display and better lanyard attachment.

see many reviews at:

GPS Tracklog: Garmin GPSMAP 76CSx review
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