The Garmin eTrex VistaC is a great GPSr with excellent functionality and features. Target audience is likely the intermediate to advanced users.
1) It’s “Geocaching Readyâ€? which in Garmin terms means that it supports two waypoint icons for marking caches. The “Closed Cacheâ€? for caches which have not been found and the “Open Cacheâ€? for caches which have been found. More importantly, though, when you’re hunting for a cache in “Off-Roadâ€? mode there is a button to allow you to mark the cache as “Found.â€? When you click on the Found button it automatically changes the icon to “Open Cacheâ€? and adds the name of the waypoint to the calendar in the GPSr (have you ever forgotten what caches you found, just look in the calendar and it will remind you). Then it searches for the next closest cache and asks if you want to go to that cache next. Great feature!
2) The upgraded interface (GUI) from the previous eTrex versions is a huge improvement. I believe this interface is available on all eTrex “Câ€? models (CistaC, LegendC, VistaCx, and LegendCx) and the GPSMap series. The interface is much more intuitive and easier to use once you get the hang of it. One down side is that each button on the eTrex has more functionality which can make it a little more confusing. However, the ease of use, and less clicking, makes up for it in no time.
3) Driving directions are awesome. No longer do you have to pull out a map to figure out how to get to the cache. The VistaC will give you turn-by-turn directions to get you as close to the cache as possible. Then you simply “Recalculateâ€? the directions and choose “Off Roadâ€? and it immediately switches to the compass and guides you in as you get out of your car and walk toward the cache. I purchased the upgraded maps which have been well worth it. If you’re in a non-metropolitan area, the coverage of the upgraded maps may not be worth it. Also note that in order to have the GPSr ask you which mode of navigation you want (Follow Road, or Off-Road) you have change a default setting in the Setup screens.
4) Electronic Compass. The electronic compass is a must have in my mind. Yes, the others work just fine but require movement. I’ve had great luck finding caches more quickly than others in the group simply because I could get close, stop, find the exact direction and move to it. I likely won’t by a GPSr without one now.
5) The color screen is very easy to read and very bright. Comparing it to the black-and-white screens of the other eTrex GPSr’s will immediately convert anyone.
6) The VistaC is about twice as fast at drawing the maps on the screen as the Vista. Its two processors do a great job in keeping up with the user’s input. Of course, there’s still room for improvement but it’s at least 100% improvement over the other models.
1) I absolutely love the Electronic Compass feature. However, it seems that it needs to be recalibrated often. I’m now in the habit of recalibrating every time I go out. Then I know it will be ok. Calibration is simple and only takes a minute or so but I’d rather not have to do it as often. You know you need to recalibrate when the compass pointer isn’t pointing in the right direction but you know you’re getting closer to the cache because the “distance to waypointâ€? number is decreasing.
2) This really isn’t a problem with the VistaC but with any GPSr that gives turn-by-turn directions. The GPSr will get you as close as possible to the waypoint. However, being close via a road doesn’t mean you can actually get to the cache from where it puts you. Often times cache locations are in the back side of a park – maybe with houses or other roads running along the back when the entrance to the park is really on the other side – and you can’t just traipse through someone’s backyard to get into the park. The good thing is that with the VistaC maps you can figure out where you need to go to find the park entrance fairly easily.
3) I haven’t seen this in any GPSr yet but I’d really like to see better geocaching support in the form of icons and marking. There really should be icons for multi-caches, traditional, puzzle, and virtual. As well as add red X’s through them when the cache is disabled for some reason. It appears that with the VistaC you can create your own icons and load them in (something I haven’t experimented with yet) which is nice. However, the “Geocaching Readyâ€? functions likely won’t work with your personal icons. It would be nice if Garmin supported them out of the box.
4) USB only. I wouldn’t give up the USB interface because it’s so fast. Loading 23MB of maps on the VistaC was a matter of 2 minutes, whereas the Vista (serial interface) took about 40 minutes. Additionally being able to provide power to the unit while it’s plugged into the laptop is a great plus! However, it would be nice to have a serial interface to connect the VistaC to a laptop mapping program.