New Garmin Handheld GPS Receivers

There’s been some buzz lately about some new GPS receivers that look like they’re going to replace the venerable GPSMap 60 and 76 series models. Garmin has so far confirmed a 78, the replacement for the 76. As of now, there are only just rumors about a replacement to the 60, a supposed 62. GPSFix has some informative posts worth reading if you’re interested in this sort of thing. There’s a post for the 78, and one for the expected 62.

I’m pretty interested in these, since I’m a longtime GPSMap 76 CSx user. I had mine rigged to my handlebars some years ago before I bought an Edge 705.

Garmin GPSMap 76CSx stem mount

Garmin GPSMap 76CSx stem mount

My 76CSx also went for a swim in the Youghiogheny River many years ago when I dumped my canoe in some rapids and the river pinned my canoe upside-down to a rock in the middle of the channel, with the GPS lashed to the thwart. It recorded the whole time, you can see the track on my Garmin Connect account.

The biggest deal, in my opinion, is Garmin’s support of custom mapping. They have subscription services available so you can purchase imagery, but you can load scanned maps by georeferencing them in Google Earth (though that seems a pretty basic sort of georeferencing capability…I bet it can be done with better georeferencing in some proper GIS software if you have the access to it), and Topofusion supports loading imagery into Garmin GPS receivers that support custom maps. This has been around for awhile, but it really is a game changer for the consumer GPS market now that it’s finally trickled down.

Also nice to see in these new models is continuing support for an external antenna. I was a tad concerned when the Colorado, then the Oregon, and then the Dakota did not include support for the external antenna. Garmin understands that some folks really use the feature. Being involved in building and maintaining trails, an external antenna helps out in hilly or dissected terrain and/or with dense forest cover. New receivers can compensate for multipath much better than receivers of old, but the external antenna is still helpful at improving the reception.

Also worth noting is that this new 78 series of receivers has 1.7GB of on-board storage PLUS a microSD card slot, addition of a 3-axis compass on some models, and wireless data transfer. It looks like the only “compatible units” Garmin intends this to be used with are like models, Oregons, Colorados, Dakotas, and Foretrex models. Too bad it apparently won’t transfer to an Edge. That’d be cool to be able to map a path on a hike and then transfer it to my Edge for a ride.

Unfortunately, I’m not sure if I’ll be able to pony up to be an early adopter of this thing to put out a review. I’m a poor graduate student right now who has lost his assistantship because of my illness. Any earnings of mine this summer are going to have to go towards classes in the fall semester. That is, of course, unless Garmin reads this and would feel that $449.99 (for the S model) would be an appropriate way to spend its advertising budget. Although, of course, I’m sure one of the more popular tech or GPS blogs would be more likely to be tapped for that sort of budget expenditure than me. Maybe I’d be more likely to be given a pro deal discount to review one? I dunno, but I don’t think I can afford that right now, either.

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