GPS unit in iPhone Era: Oregon 450t by Garmin

Recent addition to my gadget collection, Oregon 450t by Garmin.

Oregon450t

 

This is my very first GPS unit, and I bought it at REI store on the first day of my recent trip in the US. I am glad that I did it. This is not really for car navigation use, but it saved us at least a couple of hours by just showing us where we were on the road. It was nice to have on Yosemite hiking trail. Although it was very well-maintained trail and GPS wasn’t really necessary, it sure was fun to have!

OK, here is my first impression of Garmin Oregon 450t.

 

Beautiful Screen

3” screen, 240 x 400 pixel. Living up to the expectation of iPhone-age user.

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Touch Panel

Great touch panel for outdoor use. I did not expect much in this area, but Garmin surprised me nicely. This works almost like iPhone, but you have to press little firmer. But Oregon works well with gloves on, which is not possible on iPhone touch screen.

 

Maps

There are many free and paid maps available by Garmin and other providers. Oregon can take custom map, and custom POI. Very customizable unit.

These are US topo map, pre-installed on 450t.

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Feel right in my hand

Holding this unit is really nice. You know some rocks are very smooth and well-shaped, that makes me want to just hold it for hours. Holding Garmin Oregon is just like that. 🙂

Visibility under the direct sunlight

Oregon has bad review about screen, especially for earlier model (Oregon 300), but Garmin says 450 has much improvement. I never tried Oregon 300, but I think what they did was right, because I like the screen!

What amazed me most was how bright it is under direct sun. It was really nice in sunny California. Trick is to have DIRECT sunlight. If I get partial light, the glare reflect back… but when it is hard to see, setting brightness to the highest usually solve the problem.

 

Japanese Support

I bought US version, but I could easily enable Japanese by downloading Japanese font. By playing with internal setting file, I could even make all menu language into Japanese. So easy that I feel bad for Japanese distributor of Garmin (who, by the way, still selling older 300 with MUCH higher price…).

For Japanese map, I bought Idonnap map (いどんなっぷ). This is highly rated by Japanese Garmin users, and the price is very reasonable. You don’t have to buy entire Japan map, but you can buy by portion. I got 10 area, which covers most of my interested area, for 3500yen. You don’t get nice 3D shading effect like Garmin official map, but that’s not necessary anyway.

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Battery

This is something I am not entirely happy, but can live with. If I can keep brightness to lower level, this unit runs for roughly 8-10 hours, which is good enough for day-hike or biking, but not for several days backpacking.

I knew battery isn’t particular strong with this unit, and REI staff informed me beforehand, so it was not surprise.

It is nice that this runs on normal AA battery, so finding extra battery is easy.

 

I will use this for day hiking and cycling (yes, I got mounting bracket!). Will review in detail if I find something interesting.