Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garmin GPSMAP 64 series brings GLONASS, iPhone connectivity & preloaded caches

Garmin GPSMAP 64 series

The all new Garmin GPSMAP 64 series

UPDATEHere’s my hands on review of the Garmin GPSMAP 64s.

Garmin has announced the GPSMAP 64 series, updating the 62 series (of which the 62s is currently my go-to handheld). Let’s dive right into the improvements…

GLONASS

First up is GLONASS support, which should allow for improved accuracy, especially in northerly latitudes and urban canyons. Garmin says that with GLONASS you’ll average 20% faster satellite lock than with GPS alone.

Smart iPhone connectivity

Sorry Android users, this one is only for folks toting an iPhone 4s+. If that’s you, you can expect smart notifications, bringing you texts, emails and alerts, right to the screen of your 64s or 64st.
Not only that but it also allows you to use the Garmin Connect mobile app to share your location with family and friends via LiveTrack, at least as long as you’re within cell phone range.

Preloaded geocaches

This one is a bit of a surprise; not that they’d include 250,000 preloaded caches but that they’d come from geocaching.com rather than Garmin’s own OpenCaching site. Maybe these guys have all made up!

BirdsEye included

The 64s and 64st models will come with a one-year subscription to BirdsEye satellite imagery.

Optional rechargeable battery

While the 64 series can use standard AA batteries, an optional rechargeable NiMH battery pack is also available.

Models, pricing and availability

There are three models being released, the 64, 64s and 64st. The base model Garmin GPSMAP 64 lists for $299.99.

The GPSMAP 64s adds a tri-axial compass,  barometric altimeter, wireless connectivity for smart notifications and a one-year subscription to BirdsEye aerial imagery. It will list for $399.99.

The GPSMAP 64st adds preloaded 1:100,000 scale topo maps of the US and will list for $499.99.

The 64 series is expected to be available later this month.

UPDATE: Here’s the full news release.

What do you think? Will you be ponying up for one of these?

Garmin GPSMAP 64

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

Comments

  1. Boyd Ostroff says:

    They have added some nice upgrades and the iPhone connectivity is a step in the right direction. But the 240×160 screen and awkward pushbutton interface are a deal breaker for me. Linking that kind of device to a smartphone seems kind of strange.

    • Funny, the visible-in-most-light transflective screen and usable-without-touchscreen interface are why I want one. Everyone has different needs. Maybe they’re doing the smartphone link to overcome people’s trepidation over the low res?

      Any word if this thing will do WAAS? I know, it’s got GLONASS, but I’ve come to like GPS/WAAS accuracy.

      • I’m pretty sure it will have WAAS. Other Garmin GLONASS models do.

        I too find myself gravitating towards a button interface. The Oregon 600 seems to think it’s received a screen input if the wind even blows hard. Plus, with buttons I can change screens on the fly while mountain biking, without having to look at the unit.

        Having said that, I’d love to see a hi-res version with a similar form factor.

      • Boyd Ostroff says:

        Well I still have my 60csx if I want to go retro. I don’t have an objection to pushbuttons themselves, and I understand the appeal. But if you’re going in that direction, at least provide a numeric keypad or (even better) blackberry style keyboard. It is just ridiculous to use a cursor button to pick letters and numbers from a tiny grid when entering coordinates and names. Reminds me of video games from 1980.

        Remember how people said you would have to pry their Blackberries from their cold dead hands? How did that work out? 😉 My daughter was one of those people, she sends lots of e-mail for her job. She now has an iPhone and loves it.

        I find the Montana screen perfectly readable under all lighting conditions. It’s a *touchscreen* too, which makes it more of a challenge for visibility. If you you aren’t using a touchscreen, there should be no problem making a higher resolution screen that is still readable.

        • Broadwing says:

          I’m perhaps being overly harsh – just coming off using my Colorado outdoors and thinking ‘wow, this is a REALLY dark screen’. Have the later high-res transflectives improved much?

          I used to be a hardcore phone keyboarder, but now I use touchscreens. I’ve got no problem with making the switch, it’s just for hiking GPS use, I want something that’s a bit easier to use with any old glove I’m wearing, or with water, etc. No argument that the touchscreen is much more usable. …and my 60Csx got handed down to my dad when I got the Colorado. The older Garmin maps are great for him, they have railroads on them that haven’t been used for 50 years, that he goes to photograph.

          • Boyd Ostroff says:

            I don’t know the economics, but I’ve had two Sony Professional High Definition camcorders with beautiful hi-res transreflective screens. I now have an XDCAM-EX1 with a transreflective 3.5″ 16:9 panel at 640×480. Mind you, this is a $5000 camcorder. 🙂

            But a gps doesn’t need that kind of color accuracy, and even going to 240×400 (like the Oregon 4xx) would be a big improvement.

      • boycameo says:
  2. Naturekid says:

    And where is the GGZ Support?

  3. Brent Besse says:

    I think this is a nice upgrade to the GPSMAP series. I bought a Montana and have really liked it for geocaching, hiking, fitness tracking and on the road navigation. If I didn’t use the on the roads (bigger screen) navigation, I would be looking at this one. the iPhone (or any other smart phone) connectivity doesn’t excite me at all.
    But I agree with Rich’s question, could Garmin and Geocaching.com have made up? I hope soo.

    • atlas cached says:

      It has been nearly 6 months since the last update to the OX website, giving credence to several rumors that Garmin has abandoned their OpenCaching project.

  4. The trouble with preloaded caches is that they change so rapidly they’ll be out of date within a week. Still the fact Garmin and Groundspeak are talking is a good sign and the GPSMAP series have always been pretty reliable (if a little cumbersome to operate in this touchscreen age).

  5. What are the reasons to prefer the GPS Map 64 over the Montana other than GLONASS or you don’t like touchscreens?

  6. Will the new GPSMAP 64 models be the first to support ExFAT SHXC cards? I was going to get a Montana for the 4″ screen and Nuvi Mode but I’m hesitant about the plastic screen used with the Montana. The screens are not covered under warranty and removing a screen protector can damage it. The out of warranty repair is costly.

    • No info yet on types of microSD cards supported.

    • Boyd Ostroff says:

      I don’t think we need bigger memory cards until Garmin changes their map format and operating system. With tradional vector based maps (.img files), you are limited to ~4000 map segments. I doubt that you could even load 16gb of maps without hitting the segment limit. The limit applies to all segments in all loaded maps, even if they are not enabled.

      Then with Birdseye, I tried using 14gb of aerial imagery on a 16gb class 10 card and it resulted in ridiculously long startup times on both the Oregon and Montana (the device builds an index at startup).

      • I would try putting a 32GB microSDHC (one of those SanDisk Extreme cards or similar) card in your device to see if it speed things up. Memory cards, disk drives etc are typically fastest when they are empty. 7/8th of a card is nearly full which might be why the device is performing slowly.

  7. I wonder if one of the issues is finding a vendor that manufacturers a higher-resolution screen that fits the form factor. Or maybe they are saving that update for the 66 series!

  8. I believe there is a place for push button GPS’s like the one on the new GPSMAP 64. I am an old GPSMAP 60Csx owner and wish I had waited to upgrade to the 64 rather than the Oregon 600T touch screen GPS that I got last year. That device and the newer Montana supposedly offer the brightest screen of any of the touchscreens. However, low resolution notwithstanding, the 60Csx screen offers significantly better visibility in bright sunshine than my Oregon, particularly when I am wearing dark sunglasses in a snowy landscape. I love the touchscreen on my Samsung Galaxy S4 phone and assumed that the Oregon’s would save me from the cursed push buttons, but now I long for those buttons. Overall they are simpler and easier to use in the wild, particularly when you have gloves on. If I spent significant time entering text, I might prefer the Oregon, but I don’t particularly like entering text on that device either. It can’t compete with good smart phones in that respect. The user interface on the Oregon is awkward and clumsy. The screens can change if you don’t turn the screen off before putting the device in a pocket or case. I am seriously considering unloading the Oregon and getting one of these GPSMAP 64s.

    • Jonathan says:

      I still have the 60CSX and refuse to update until Garmin pulls it’s head out of 1997. Back in the mid 90’s [I owned the Garmin 12 XL, and later 12 Map] I had an argument with one of the executive staff at Garmin over them not having removable media (back then it was SD as TransFlash ie MicroSD had not been made yet). The position of Garmins executives was [notice the quotes] “No one will EVER want to put the entire US worth of maps on a GPS; there is no need.” LMFAO. Fast forward to today, and it looks like they took my advice. I still can’t stand the map segment limit which wouldn’t be a problem if Garmin would get on its 3rd party map creator [the people who make MapSource for Garmin] and force them to only use large map segments. There is no reason 24k Topo is broken up into so many segments, why is Garmin still supporting GPS units w/o removable media [IE units from 15+ years ago]?

      Garmin screens are still terrible resolution, Garmin units are still limited to extremely low amount of routes, points, tracks, etc. Maybe I just use my GPS more than most, but it sucks running out of tracks or points in a track; it sucks even more having to be near a PC all the time backing up and swapping files. Battery life still blows; don’t believe those numbers of 16-22 hours. Nothing has really changed; Garmin is on the slow upgrade path trying to get people to buy a GPS every year, which is insanely unpractical and cost prohibitive. I own a business consulting firm; would LOVE to get a foot in the door at Garmin and have a chance to design the perfect outdoor GPS. Unfortunately, the people at that company are old, stubborn, and pig headed. Garmin started off amazing, but the company quickly got comfortable with slow updates [both hardware and software] and lack of vision. They just don’t get technology and have been fighting progress ever since the late 90’s. It’s too bad. One of these days I will update, but the 60 CSX has been to hell and back with me and I just don’t see a product that makes me want to retire that unit.

  9. Surprised garmin is pumping out another model after just releasing the monterra. There’s nothing there that will make me replace my montana. If garmin ever came out with a model like the montana WITH satellite communication capability like the delorme inReach I’d buy it in a second. I frequent areas without cell coverage…..

    • Yeah, there are a lot of us waiting for one that integrates handheld GPS navigation functions with a satellite communicator. I suspect DeLormne is working on that BTW.

  10. Is it worth the cost to upgrade from the 64S to the 64ST for the memory and 1:100k maps? Can’t you download the same map to the 64S?

    • I agree. The “s” models aren’t worth the extra money for most folks.

      • Jonathan says:

        WRONG. Why would anyone buy an outdoor GPS WITHOUT the built in 3 Axis Compass and Barometric Altimeter? The “S” models should be the baseline unit! You have wasted your money if you bought the base model; ie anything but the “S” model. I agree the “C” models (Camera) are something people can pass on but the “S” model with the 3 Axis Compass and Barometric Altimeter is mandatory for an outdoor GPS. I know the “S” model adds wireless sync too, which I will agree is another option most people can pass on but if you don’t get the “S” model you lose the 3 Axis Compass and Barometric Altimeter, which is an absolute necessity. What Garmin should do is make the baseline unit with the 3 Axis Compass and Barometric Altimeter but NOT the wireless sync which instead should be the intermediate model. If this was the case I would agree with your statement, but if you don’t own at least the “S” model with 3 Axis Compass and Barometric Altimeter you have wasted your money.

  11. I have just purchases a garmin 62s where can I down load free maps
    Do I have to also download the map of Australia I thought it at least came with that one

  12. As a climber I still prefer the low-res button operated GPS (with sensors). I know there is arguments for higher res screens, but I think readability will suffer much like my old 12XL is brighter then my 76csx (which may explain why there has not been a color version of the Kindle e-reader) – smaller pixels tend to reflect less light). If the 76cxs dies, I will replace with the 64s.

  13. Any word on whether there will be a 64 stc (with camera?) or has everyone determined that a camera is not an advisable feature for a GPS unit?

  14. As soon as I read ‘iPhone’, I lost interest. Sorry.

  15. Hi Rich, my question as I already own the 62s is – is it actually any faster than the 62s in terms of map redraw speed such as panning, and zooming?

    GLONASS is nice and all, but it would need more than that for me to shell out $500 to upgrade.

  16. 64 vs 62
    the same restriction policy for custom maps in raster kmz ?? =too small accepted (not even a county surface…)
    ? some emprouvement (for raster sizes) at 64 face to 62 ?

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