I’ve had a Garmin Montana 600 in hand for a couple of weeks now and so far I’m pretty impressed with it. I initially thought it was targeted at the motorized crowd (ATVs, 4WDs, etc.) due to its size, but now I’m not so sure. While it does make the Oregon series look positively diminutive, in comparison to the 62 series, it’s shorter, is the same thickness, and weighs just an ounce more.
So what does the Montana have going for it? Several things, so let’s take them one at a time:
The picture below says more than the specs can. The Montana checks in with a 4” diagonal screen vs. 3” for the Oregon and 2.6” for the 62 series.But when you look at area, the difference really becomes apparent. The Montana has 45.19 sq. cm. of screen real estate, almost twice the Oregon’s (23.94 sq. cm.)
and way ahead of the 62 series, which comes in at 14.3 sq. cm. EDIT: Oops, the 62 series comes in at 19.8 sq. cm. Thanks to Bob M. for his email letting me know of my goof.
It’s too early for me to make any detailed comments on visibility, but the Montana does seem to be an improvement over the Oregon series. Why? Pixel density. The Montana (despite higher specs) actually has a slightly lower resolution screen when you factor in screen size, offering up 2889 pixels per sq. cm. Compare this to the Oregon’s 4010 pixels/sq.cm. That means significantly more light can be reflected back to Montana users.
I’ll have more to say about visibility in my full review. For now, I’ll leave it at that.
Improved access to features
This is where the Montana really shines. The interface brings the best of both worlds, offering the ease of touchscreen input found on the Oregon series, and the easy access to menu items from the 62 series. But that statement doesn’t do the Montana justice; its access to features is light years ahead of my 62s.
Here’s a look at the Montana’s main menu, which is the screen you’re always greeted with upon startup.
You can drag apps between the App Drawer and the Main Menu.
If you add more than nine, you’ll lose the names and just have icons. Items in the App Drawer can be rearranged as well.
Also new is a Favorites dashboard, shown below. You can have more than three installed; they will scroll within the dashboard.
Note also the arrow icon at the left of the Favorites dashboard above. Tap it to have the dashboard slide out of sight and get a full screen view of the map. Tap the arrow again and the dashboard slides back into view. Nice!
A Shortcuts feature is available from the Setup menu (also from the Favorites dashboard menu). Shortcuts can be added to the Main Menu, App Drawer or Favorites. This feature is a little buggy, with many shortcuts not working. I did manage to place a working shortcut to the display settings on my Favorites dashboard. Once Garmin works the bugs out of shortcuts, you should be able to access just about any feature with a couple of taps.
One of the big improvements is also one of the simplest, the addition of the menu icon (the icon with the three horizontal bars below at left).
Tap it on the map screen and you’ll see this…
The ability to deliver spoken turn-by-turn directions
With the admittedly pricey addition of a special mount and City Navigator, the Montana can give you spoken directions, just like your nuvi. I haven’t ponied up for those yet, but I have been using Topo US 24K for turn-by-turn directions to the trailhead. I dearly love only having to send waypoints to one unit.
Of bugs and updates
No surprise to early adopters I’m sure, but the Montana is a bit buggy (many issues are documented in this thread). I haven’t even updated to 2.60 after plenty of reports of problems. Nevertheless, I’m quite smitten. Hopefully Garmin will soon get the bugs worked out. And I still have quite a bit of testing to do. The true test for me will be when I can put it on my mountain bike, to see how something that large feels on it. Unfortunately it looks like we’re still a month away from the best mounting solution.