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thomaskennedy 04-15-2007 07:30 PM

Handheld GPS? Or not.
Anyone have advise on a good handheld GPS what works with Macs?

sailingdog 04-15-2007 07:58 PM


What do you mean by works with Macs?

I use a Mac for 99% of what I do, and have a Garmin 76CS that I use with the Mac. While Garmin has promised to support Macs with new software later this year, their software is currenty PC only. However, there are several good software packages for the Mac that work with the Garmins just fine. MacENC, GPSNavX, are among the more nautically themed of these. You will need a GPS that supports the NMEA 0183 standard as well as a USB-to-serial converter to use a GPS with a Mac.

thomaskennedy 04-15-2007 08:19 PM

Yeah. That's what I meant. I suppose that I could use bootcamp if absolutely necessary, but I'd rather go native. Garmin promise support in 07, but I've seen that before.


sailingdog 04-15-2007 08:27 PM

I'm pretty sure that they'll come through with it... With the advent of the Intel-based Macs, and the problems that Windows has had over the years, they're missing a pretty good chunk of the market now. AFAIK, none of the major handheld GPS manufacturers have any native Mac OSX software. I also think that the Garmin units have the best user interface, as well as the best unit software. I've used the TomToms, Magellan and Uniden GPS units... and still like my Garmins the best over all. I have three different Garmins, btw. The 76CS was one I picked up for geocaching, hiking and fishing. I also have a 192C installed on my boat, and a 276 in my truck.

Valiente 04-16-2007 01:49 AM

Am I missing something here, or is there a reason why a Mac user couldn't just plug a GPS antenna into a USB port and use a Mac-based plotting or nav program?

By all means, you can output GPS information to anything with a proper cable, but it's the program in the laptop, not the handheld, that generally gives you the information in a more useful, graphical form.

But maybe that's the Windows talking...

sailingdog 04-16-2007 07:39 AM


Yes, you're missing something. Most of the USB-cable only handhelds, like the Garmin eTrex series require a driver to work on a computer. Currently, the USB device drivers don't exist for the Mac. The ones that do have drivers are the GPS hockey pucks, and can't be used without the computer as a general rule. When the OP said he wanted a handheld, I am guessing he wants one that can be used with or without a computer.

That is why I recommended he get a handheld unit, like the Garmin GPSMap 76CX, which has a serial port NMEA0183 interface as well as a USB interface. While using a USB-to-Serial cable is a bit kludgy, at least I know it will work.

thomaskennedy 04-16-2007 05:29 PM

SD, your correct. I'm looking for a hand held. I also have a fishing kayak, and several other buddies with boats. I'm leaning toward your suggestion. again thanks,


sailingdog 04-16-2007 05:37 PM


Glad to help.... BTW, the reason I like the 76 series over the equally capable 60 series is that the 76 series is really better designed for marine use. First, the 76 series units float, the 60 series units do not. Second, the 76 series are relatively easy to control and view with one hand, while the 60 series have a bit of an ergonomics issue there...

Both are immersion resistant, but if the unit sinks, that doesn't do a whole lot of good IMHO. Being able to use the unit with one hand is important on a kayak or sailboat, as the other hand may be needed to hold on or do something else... ;)

offline2004 04-17-2007 11:47 AM

To hijack this thread a bit, I sail with a built in Garmin GPS on my 33' boat. While I should be much better at reading the charts (which I do keep on board), I must admit I am a "video game sailor" entirely too reliant on the GPS when in unfamiliar waters in the Chesapeake.

I want to get a handheld as an emergency backup to the built in that can also be used for hiking and the likes. Any recommendations or do the same as above apply? I am not even in need of color as it is more for emergency purposes.



sailingdog 04-17-2007 12:52 PM


I'd recommend getting the same one as I recommended above... the GPSMap 76Cx. The reasons are as follows:

1) you can actually load the Garmin charts into it for your region.
2) The color screens are far easier to read than the monochrome screens
3) The battery life on the 76Cx is probably better than that of the 76, which is monochrome,
4) the 76Cx has a much better GPS chipset.

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