Garmin E-map

I'm a big fan of GPS units. Should you learn to use a map and compass? OF COURSE! but once you master a compass and can read maps, it's time to take a shortcut, and that's where the Garmin E-map comes in.

The E-map is PACKED with features, such as a built in map (or Maps)... You can download popular Topo maps and updated street maps to the unit from the internet or from CD, and they are displayed as you use the GPS. You can zoom in or out on the maps and these are great for travel because they show you ON the highway and tell you your direction, distance to location, AND (drum roll please) Exit information. This exit information is super nice because you can say "Honey, I'm hungry and we need gas, what looks good?" and "honey" can bring up the exit information along your path and tell you EVERY business and service at EVERY exit... Gas, food, lodging, parts stores, etc etc...

(The built in map always displays your EXACT position and altitude)

There is almost TOO much information in these little units, and the memory is expandable. You can update your maps off the internet or off topo-software. You can store the entire world in street maps just about (Depending on the size of your memory card) and or you can put in Topo Maps, Waterway maps, etc, etc, etc.

This unit will show you which satellites it's tracking, what their signal strength is, and of course your position in Lat and long coordinates.

The GPS I have says on the first page that, in a nutshell, you have to be smarter than a rock to use it. They are a bit more polite than that, but it boils down to the same thing.

Combined with your laptop computer and a digital topo map, you have a VERY powerful combination. Many of the more expensive systems allow you to hook your GPS to a laptop and see where you are on a digital roadmap at all times!

(We plugged our trip information from the Garmin E-map into "TopoUSA" software on our laptop and got this 3D Map of a recent backpacking trip we went on.)

What I really like about our E-map is that it has maps built in. No more stopping at gas stations and asking the slack jawed attendants for directions!

The Down Side:
As with any GPS unit, heavy foliage or steep valleys mean a loss of satellite reception. This is usually temporary, but if it bothers you, the E-map has a port for an external antenna which GREATLY improves reception!

The boot up of the unit takes a few seconds, and there is one feature that I REALLY hate... after the unit boots there is a Warning screen and you have to press "enter" to agree to it before you can start using the GPS unit that YOU bought and that YOU own! If you don't press enter it'll go away after about 30 seconds, but I don't see the need for this screen... it's like having to push "OK" after watching the rating notice on a DVD that you bought before you can watch the movie each time.

Would WE Buy It?:
Yeah, we recently bought our second e-map, and a good friend of ours that travels a lot bought herself one also... we like em.. they make traveling on streets or on the trails MUCH easier.

Technical Specs:
Power Source = two AA batteries (Lasts about 12 hours), or lighter adapter (usually sold separately)
Size = 2.4 X 5.5 X 0.8 inches
weight = 6.7 ounces
Display is in Black and white
PC Interface = Standard serial RS232 9-pin D connector PC interface cable (optional), Or USB data card programmer (optional)
12 satellite channels

This unit is ultimately adjustable. It has LOTS of options for each setting.. most you'll never use, but when you do need em, they are there. It's compatible with MANY types of software (not on the GPS unit itself, but it will interface with most Topo software while plugged into your home computer or laptop).

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