Ratings: Ease of Use, Performance: 20/25, Look & Feel: 25/25, Features & Software 25/25, How much I enjoy 25/25
Magellan is one of the few large GPS product companies and many of their GPS products are not just for keeping hikers from getting lost. I have found an entire community filled with seekers of fun using these high tech devices for what is called Geocaching.
I’ll start off with just what GPS is, the Global Positioning System is a satellite system that the government has made available for citizens to use free of charge. The satellite system started out with satellites in low earth orbit back in 1978 and the US Department of Defense has maintained the system. Not only the government and military uses the system but many people and companies use it for commercial navigation and map making as well as people using it to tell where on the earth they are.
GPS is a very handy system and has become an indispensable navigation aid and map making tool. There are over two dozen satellites in orbit around the earth and a GPS unit will tell your exact location, distance of travel and direction using several of these satellites. Using just three can tell your position but the more the unit picks up the better and more accurate it will be.
GPS units range from very inexpensive units around $100 to very expensive units used by airplanes, ships and others for navigation. There are units specifically designed for handheld use, car use, hunting and fishing, marine or boat use and combinations of these. Many GPS units can be used in many different ways such as finding your way while hiking or biking, navigating while boating, finding your way back to a choice hunting or fishing spot and driving to a particular destination. Many GPS units have computer hook up and map loading functions to install maps and be able to more accurately find out where you are and where you want to go.
Which brings me to the Magellan eXplorist 210 and the handy features it offers for just about all these things. Many of the GPS units out on the market are of a few types; handheld, marine and automobile. There are of course others and many of these can be used in both a car and boat as well as held and used while walking around or hiking. But the manufacturers have designed them with the particular needs of each type of activity and have included features that are more suitable to one area of use.
The eXplorist 210 handheld unit that I am reviewing has a wide range of uses and is more of an all around GPS unit that can be used in all these situations; car, boat and hiking. The eXplorist 210 is a small unit that weighs 6 ounces and uses two AA batteries. It can hold up to 22 MB of map data or other data like routes, points of interest and Geocaching, I’ll explain Geocaching later.
Here is a list of features from Magellan:
22 MB available memory – Add detailed MapSend® maps, store tracks, waypoints and more
Easy-to-use – Navigate in seconds with simple menus, one-button shortcut to key features and joystick control
Built-in maps – North American or European basemap shows major roads, parks, waterways and many points of interest
Large backlit display – Clearly see your GPS information day or night
USB data port – Manage maps and waypoints and download coordinates from your PC
TrueFix® technology – Reliable accuracy to within 3 meters
Simple file system – Save, organize and access all your stored data with ease
Vertical profile – View graphical elevation changes for where you’ve been or where you’re going
Geocache Manager – PC application to download and organize coordinates from the Internet
Track logging – Store 150 track files with 2000 points each
Four navigation screens – Map, Compass, Locator and Satellite Status deliver easy-to-use information
Advanced power management – Two AA batteries provide up to 18 hours of use. Save power with auto-off”.
Rugged construction – Encased in rubber armored, impact resistant plastic
Some of the more important features you may want to look at when thinking of purchasing any GPS unit is first what you are using it for and what you may use it for in the future. Whether you can hook it up to a computer is another main feature as you can download and upload data to and from your computer and use the GPS unit to find your way whether driving or hiking using detailed maps available separately.
There are also lake maps available with depth information of lakes all across the United States for fishing and boating. These extra programs are also available from Magellan and are a very nice addition to the units themselves. I would highly recommend you use at least one of the map systems depending on your use and why you’re buying a GPS unit.
The eXplorist 210 comes in a very tough little package, it is covered partly in hard plastic with rubber coated sides and rubber coated buttons. There is a screen about an inch and a half by two inches for your map and data. Using the seven buttons and one small joystick you can use to navigate through the menus and information screens or around on the map. The folder system that the data is stored in is just like a computer so if you’re using your unit with a computer you will be familiar with the general folder setup. The unit needs to be used mostly out of doors or in cars but you can pick up satellite signals indoors if your on the top floor or the buildings roof has less material for the signals to go through.
It will take a minute or two for the unit to find the satellite signals and its own position so when you turn on the eXplorist 210 you need to just wait for it to acquire the signals. Then you can see where you are on the map and read your position coordinates in Latitude and Longitude as well as height above sea level. The unit will also tell you how accurate it is depending on a few factors like signal strength and where you are. The eXplorist 210 is waterproof but just like any piece of electronics I would not want to test that. The battery compartment is gasket protected and has a screw in knob to fasten it tight to the gasket as well as the rubber buttons and joystick so I am sure it will keep out rain and other moisture sufficiently. I just would not want to dunk it in a river to really find out how much it can withstand water.
When you first get your unit you can input information like your name and address so if you lose it someone can hopefully return it to you. There is a handy feature using the satellites that the unit updates time and date as well as position so you have not only a location and time but direction using the built in compass. This unit is perfect for camping and hiking with these features. You can upload data using the MapSend program and a variety of available maps like the Topo 3D or Lakes USA. Uploading maps onto the handheld eXplorist is not exactly as easy as the pamphlets that come with it say it is. You need to keep one thing in mind when using this product, information needs to be put onto your hard drive before it goes from the program or unit. So if you’re uploading a map to the eXplorist 210 you need to download the map onto your hard drive. Or if your downloading points of interest or a Geocaching coordinate you visited to the MapSend program you need to download them to your hard drive.
This was about the only problem I had when I first used the eXplorist 210 unit and since I figured this out I have had no other problems at all, except the cold weather. I received the eXplorist 210 and a program called MapSend Topo 3D which holds maps of the United States and downloaded a map of my area onto my unit. Of course when I first tried to download it I did not get it right so I visited a web site called Geocaching. Geocaching is where people hide boxes like Tupperware containers or ammo boxes and put the coordinates on the web site at Geocaching.com. Others like you or I go and try to find these boxes and maybe do some good for the environment while were at it. Many of the Geocaches are in parks or outdoor areas and you pick up some litter while you’re looking for the box. It is fun but I was unlucky enough not to find a few that are very near my home. It was just too cold out to spend much time looking so I will put that off for another time. It was fun though, and very simple to do.
The eXplorist 210 has a manager program that comes with the unit that you can convert data from one form or another and up and download this data to and from your computer and the unit. You just need to figure out what you’re doing and using what type of file and it’s easy. On the Geocaching website they have loc files or location files, see how easy they made it, and you download the file from the web site to your computer. You then hook the cable that comes with your eXplorist 210 to the back of the unit with the cord going down and the USB connector to your computer.
On the eXplorist 210 you need to tell the unit to go into communications mode by using the menus and going to advanced features, then communications, then file transfer. The little joystick is how you get the menu bar to move up and down or the cursor on the map screen to move around. Once the screen tells you the unit is in file transfer mode you can use the program to transfer data. But like I said you need to use the manager to upload and download files to and from your hard drive. I found this out on the web site for Geocaching that has a very helpful forum and some nice friendly people willing to help out with any of your GPS questions.
The eXplorist 210 is a very handy and fun way to find your way anywhere in the world or just around your neighborhood. With the addition of the Magellan MapSend Topo 3D program you get detailed maps that can tell you streets and location of many points of interest near you. When I received my eXplorist 210 I turned it on and filled in my owner information. I let the unit locate satellites and get its fix in the world. I had two major streets near me on the map and a couple of cross streets.
When I uploaded the map from the MapSend Topo 3D program it filled in a very accurate and detailed map not only with all the streets in my area but with locations for things like the ATM machine and grocery store down the street that I shop at and the gas station further down that I fill my car at. Some of the things are not exactly up to date like the gas station across the street that was torn down a couple of years ago. This would be a very handy and great way to find a gas station or restaurant when you’re vacationing somewhere new to you.
The eXplorist 210 has dozens of symbols for different things and you can find out what each one is using the help section of the MapSend Topo 3D program. Each of the programs has a handy and easy to use guide and manual but if you do need help I would highly recommend going to the Geocaching website and the forum there for answers. You will be communicating with people who use the GPS units for their fun and will get plenty of helpful tips and advice from them.
The eXplorist 210 is a handy and convenient handheld GPS unit. It is very inexpensive and durable with protection from wet weather and dunking in rivers and lakes, just don’t test that out for fun. The unit is light weight and very self explanatory but does come with a useful manual and program for computer use. The Magellan MapSend Topo 3D USA program is also a very handy and useful addition to the Magellan GPS units by providing accurate and detailed maps of any area in the United States. Magellan has several of these programs available not only for the handheld units but for all of their computer connectable products for map, marine and navigation use.
I highly recommend the Magellan eXplorist 210 GPS unit as it is handy and very easy to use, plus fun. The web site at Geocaching will also give you more information about Geocaching, GPS units and fun things to do with them.