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  #1  
Old 5 May 2004
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Garmin GPSMAP 276C - Opinions?

I see that the new Garmin GPSMAP 276C is now available. If anyone has one and would like to review it, or just give their opinion, I for one would be interested to hear about it. I've got a GPS V at the moment, which is kinda cute and works well most of the time. But as a gadget fan I have to know if I need to move up to the 276C.

http://www.garmin.com/products/gpsmap276c/

Iain.
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  #2  
Old 21 May 2004
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Sounds like a good unit

Have a look at Adventure Riders forum;
http://www.advrider.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=6
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  #3  
Old 2 Jun 2004
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I’ve mounted a 276C on my bike an it is a great GPS. The screen is very good and with an additional 256mb memorycard you can download lots of maps.

Cons:
-Flimsy bracket (as most other)
-Small buttons (as most other)
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  #4  
Old 5 Jun 2004
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The 276 is a very competent GPSR, but it is primarily a MARINE GPSR, with secondary functionality for automotive use.

It does not have the full software functionality for automotive (and motorcycle) navigation that the 'pure automotive' GPSR's, such as the SP 2610 or SP 2620 have. The 276 also has limited map storage capacity - the biggest memory chip available for it is 256 megs, which really limits its usefulness for long distance touring.

I own a SP 2650 and a GPSMAP 296. The 296 is the 'big brother' of the 276 - although it is the same size and form factor, the 296 has aviation capabilities as well as marine and automotive capabilities.

Even though the 296 is over twice the price of the SP 26xx series, it does not do as good a job for automotive navigation as the SP 26xx. My suggestion is that if you intend to use your GPSR primarily for moto use, you get a SP 26xx product. If you plan to use it primarily for marine use, and want the benefit of automotive use as well, then get the 276.

Your total cost of ownership (for long distance touring) will be much less with a SP 26xx than with a SP 276, and you can avoid the hassle of reloading the data chip enroute by purchasing a large (1 gig) CF card for your SP 26xx at any big-box retail store. The SP 26xx uses generic (CF) data cards that you can buy anywhere, the 276 and 296 use smaller, proprietary data cards.

Yes, I know the screen on the 276 is amazing, but that's the only benefit it has over the SP 26xx for moto use. They are both equal so far as waterproof qualities and durability qualities go.

PanEuropean
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  #5  
Old 5 Jun 2004
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I'd be interested to know which automotive functionality has been left out of the 276C. Reading the Garmin website it appears that there is no difference in auto routing software between the GPS V (my current unit), the 276C and the StreetPilot range. In what respect does the 296/276 not do as good a job as a StreetPilot for navigation?

As for storage capacity, I'm used to 'making do' with only 19MB, so 256MB is a definate improvement. I'm not sure how far you ride, but I don't see that as a limitation. My limit tends to be about 4k miles due to time restrictions. But then that'll include a couple of 800 mile days to get to where I'm going, and those days don't need street level mapping.

Costwise; 276C in the UK costs £650, with a memory card costing £140. The SP2610 costs £900, and it should be possible to pick up a 256MB CF card for about £60. Not a lot in it.

Thanks for the input, Iain.
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  #6  
Old 5 Jun 2004
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Iswoolley:

The SP 26xx products support custom route preferences and custom avoids, the 276 and 296 (as of the system software available today) do not support these features. I believe that the SP 26xx allows "look-ahead" POI lookups, so you can find a hotel, restaurant, gas station, etc. along the route you are following, on your side of the road (important if you are on a motorway), but the 276/296 does not do this, though I stand to be corrected here.

There are significant differences between the autorouting capabilities of the different generations of GPSR's you mention - the GPS V, SP III, and SP 26xx series. I could write an essay about this, but I don't have the time to do so. Suffice to say that as processor speed and non-vol memory capacity have increased (and as the years have passed, and Garmin has enhanced the software that does the routing), many features have been added. For example, "avoid unpaved roads" is now a choice on the SP 26xx, the GPS V and SP III can't support this because of hardware restrictions.

Concerning memory capacity - I am using the current version of CityNavigator Europe, which is version 6. I mostly ride in Switzerland, which is not a very big country - you can get from one end to the other in about 4 hours. However, to load all the map segments for Switzerland (ONLY), plus the immediatly adjacent border segments (in case I go 3 miles into the next country), with autorouting information, takes 96 megabytes of storage space.

If I wanted to load all the map segments for a slightly larger country - for example, the UK (excluding Northern Ireland) - I would need 150 megabytes.

To load an 800 mile one-way trip from Zurich - in the direction that requires the LEAST data to be loaded - requires about 400 megabytes. This includes street level data, because if I only wanted the basemap (autoroutes, major highways, and major landforms) for the enroute portion of my trip, I wouldn't even buy a GPSR, I'd just buy a large scale Michelin map of Europe, or a $100 handheld GPSR that includes a European basemap but no street level detail.

PanEuropean

PS: You mention that the 276C costs £650 in the UK, and then refer to another £140 for a memory card. Does this mean the total cost is about £790? If so, does this include the cost of the road map CD (CitySelect)? I don't think road map cartography comes with the 276 (because it is a marine unit) - hence my earlier comment that the total cost of ownership of a 276 may well exceed the total cost of ownership of a SP 26xx, all things considered.

[This message has been edited by PanEuropean (edited 05 June 2004).]
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  #7  
Old 5 Jun 2004
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PanE thanks for clarrifying those points above. Garmin doesn't exactly push this stuff to the front of the promotional literature, so it's only through experienced users the rest of us get to find out about these differences. Many thanks again.

It's logical that as time marches on each generation of hardware will be capable of more than the previous. And in some cases it won't be possible to upgrade the software of earlier units to do the flash stuff the new units do. It's a pity Garmin don't go down to this sort of detail in their comparison facility on the web site. Look ahead POI is a facility I would especially use when calculating where to refuel next.

Tell me, is there a 'use only unpaved roads' feature on the StreetPilot? Because that would be a deal maker for me.

On the memory front we might have to agree to disagree. As I'm normally UK based, I consider having the whole country at street level in the unit pretty damn fine. But when I hit the road for my summer 2 weeks away I think I use my receiver in a different way to you. If I was heading to the Alps I wouldn't upload the French motorway network into the unit, I'd rely on the basemap. But when I get to the Alps I want detailed mapping so I don't need to pack a printed map as well. This may be a matter of personal choice.

And you're dead right on the cost side, my mistake there. £650 for the 276C, £180 for City Select CD, £140 for a memory card. £970 versus £900 for the SP2610 which comes with a CD and memory card.

How do you find the touch screen on the newer StreetPilots? Is it okay to use with bike gloves on? The main issue with touch screens is a lack of tactile feedback to let you know that the button has been pressed. Does the touch screen try to convey this information graphically (ala 3D button 'movement' on Windows/OS X)?

Thanks again for your experiences and opinions.

Iain.
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  #8  
Old 6 Jun 2004
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Before I bought the 276C I did some work comparing the different models to se what fitted me best. What fits me best doesn’t necessarily fit best for you…

I got curios about which automotive functions the 276C doesn’t have. It has custom route preferences (Route/preference/Calculation method/Avoid U-turns, highway, tollroads, unpaved roads) and what you call look-ahead" POI lookups” (Near current route, near next, near second or near destination).
What exactly is the difference here between a 26xx and a 276C?
I use mostly topographic maps anyway and they don’t support route options…

When it comes to memory capacity the 26xx is far better, and memory is nice! The problem is that for the places I would like to go there is no memory-consuming maps so I have no need for the memory… Sure there will come good maps for Africa, Russia and Asia but we are not there – yet.
Even here in Norway the topographic (1:50.000) maps (which doesn’t require a lot of memory) is far better then Garmin maps, they don’t have the route options but unlike Garmin maps they have the nice roads, and IMHO that is the main purpose of a map!
This will change in a couple of years and for people who travel in areas with good maps and prefer that the GPS should find their route memory is a concern, for me 256mb is a lot…

The screen on the 276C is far better (and bigger) then the screen on 26xx. The 276C has a TFT screen with high resolution compared the LCD screen on 26xx. IMHO it’s hard to see the screen on the 26xx if it is in sunlight or it’s covered with dust. The fact that it is a LCD screen makes it hard to see from different angles, like when standing up. If you have to use time (and focus) to view the screen you have a problem…
The buttons are maybe a matter of taste but don’t buy anything before you have tested it – with gloves.

Personally I think a battery is nice to have (my old unit didn’t have one). The 276C has a rechargeable battery which makes it possible to remove the unit from the bike and plan next day driving in your tent or somewhere else. The 26xx doesn’t have a battery.

Other subjects are: (26xx in brackets)
Number of waypoints: 3.000 (500)
Trackbackmode: Yes (No)
Tracklog points: 10.000 (2.000)
Nightmode Yes (No)
Tide Prediction: Yes (No) (never more get stuck at beaches?)
More info can be found at www.garmin.com

When it comes to the price for long distance touring I will say that you are better of if you choose a 276C for a Trans Africa trip then a more expensive 26xx. Maybe it boils down to the definition of long distance touring?
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  #9  
Old 6 Jun 2004
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AliBaba, the point you make about topo maps has intrigued me. What maps are you using and how do you get them into the 276C? Do you manually scan paper maps, and then use some software tool to transfer them to the unit? Are the maps stored on the memory card? I had assumed that only Garmin cartography could be used with Garmin GPS receivers.

Iain
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  #10  
Old 7 Jun 2004
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It is possible to make your own maps but the only ways I have found require a lot of work and I haven’t tried it. You can check: http://www.gpsinformation.org/adamne.../gpsmapper.htm

I haven’t been able to find an overview over all existing topographic maps available. So far (I’ve only had the 276C for two weeks) I have only needed topographic maps for Norway and Sweden and they are both sold here.
The maps are based on paper-maps which are digitalized and then converted to a format that the GPS can understand. It is possible that Garmin do the last conversion – I don’t know.
The map are downloaded to the memory card with Mapsource just like other maps.
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