Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lowrance Endura Sierra review

Lowrance-Endura-review The Lowrance Endura Sierra is the high-end model in the recently introduced Endura product line. It includes preloaded Accuterra™ “high-resolution” topo maps, a trails and POI database and NAVTEQ® roads for the 48 contiguous United States. Turn-by-turn routing is available as an add-on purchase. The Sierra includes a tri-axial electronic compass, barometric altimeter and 4 GB of internal memory. All three Endura models utilize a 2.7” color touchscreen.

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Lowrance Endura Sierra, Safari and Outback

Lowrance Endura Sierra

UPDATE: Read my Lowrance Endura Out&Back and Lowrance Endura Sierra review

Lowrance has posted details on their new Endura handheld series. Each model has a 2.7″ touch-screen and a micro-SD slot for maps. All three are scheduled to be available in May, not April as we reported this morning.

  • Endura Sierra – This top of the line model (pictured at right) comes with a barometric altimeter, tri-axial compass, 4 GB of internal memory and preloaded “AccuterraTM high-resolution topographic maps, extensive outdoor trail networks and Points of Interest, as well as the NAVTEQ® road network for the contiguous 48 states with an upgrade option for full-featured turn-by-turn navigation.” (MSRP $549)

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Lowrance iWAY 600C review

UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For current recommendations, please refer to our auto GPS buyers guide.

The Lowrance iWAY 600C is the new top of the line automotive and marine GPS navigator from Lowrance that, in addition to displaying maps, has aerial imagery of hundreds of U.S. and Canadian cities.

The iWAY 600C has a large 5″ touch-screen, pre-loaded maps of the continental U.S. and Canada, plus electronic charts with depth contours for U.S. inland lakes, the Great lakes and coastal waters. It also has an MP3 player, built-in FM transmitter and 5.5 million points of interest (POIs).

25 GB of its 30GB hard drive is dedicated to maps and aerial photos. The remaining 5 GB is available to store MP3s.

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GPS with MP3 players

Many auto GPS receivers come with an integrated MP3 player, allowing you to control musical selections in your car via the GPS. Some even work with Audible audio book (.aa) files, or come with XM Radio receivers. Typically, playback is paused when navigation directions are announced; some units even rewind a couple of seconds when the music starts back.

There are a number of things to consider when purchasing a GPS receiver with an MP3 player; speaker quality, whether or not you can import playlists, the amount of disk storage available for files (if the unit doesn’t use an SD/MMC card for storage), how intuitive menus are, etc. The variations are too great to delve into here. Our GPS reviews link to many user reviews, so dig deep and check them out, or find a message board for the unit you are interested in, and search or ask.

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Satellite imagery and aerial photos on your GPS

Earlier this week, Lowrance announced a new GPS receiver, the iWAY 600C. What makes this unit so special is that it can display satellite imagery. It looks like they will beat DeLorme, manufacturers of the fabled Earthmate PN-20, to the punch (though no release date has been set). Actually, Garmin already has marine units that can accommodate aerial photography.

This is a rare feature, and one reason is memory. The points and lines you see on your GPS screen come from data files, not images. It takes a lot more room to store the latter. 25 GB of the iWAYs’s 30 GB hard drive is devoted to maps and satellite imagery. But hey, if they can make an 80 GB iPod, this stuff can’t be to far away for GPS. Hopefully, the manufacturers will get it right, and not charge us extra for imagery that is available for free on line.

Get the Lowrance iWAY 600C at Amazon.

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50 GPS message boards

Call them message boards, discussion groups, online forums, or some other combination of those terms — Connecting with other folks on the web, who are using your particular brand of GPS can be one of the quickest ways to get an answer on anything from basic noobie queries to perplexing technical questions. Especially helpful are groups that focus on particular brands and models of GPS.

A few caveats before the list of message boards…I’ve tried to screen out those groups dominated by spam. Also, some of these groups overlap, and they vary greatly in posting volume. Speaking of which, I have one tip for the many Yahoo groups below — you may want to choose to view messages on the web only, rather than by email, lest your inbox quickly become clogged. Finally, be sure to drill up and down through these websites. There were just too many forums to list them all, and there are other great message boards out there.

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Lowrance iWAY 250C review

UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For current recommendations, please refer to our auto GPS buyers guide.

The Lowrance iWAY 250C is a compact GPS navigator, measuring only 4″W x 3″H x 1″D. Featuring turn-by-turn directions, an MP3 player and photo viewer, the iWAY 250C comes pre-loaded with maps of the U.S. and Canada or Western Europe.

Its maps are on a 2 GB MMC/SD card, which has 40 MB free for MP3 files and photos. This isn’t quite as nice as the iWAY 350C, which has a 4 GB hard drive for maps, freeing up the MMC/SD card for entertainment.

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Lowrance iWay 350C review

UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For current recommendations, please refer to our auto GPS buyers guide.

The Lowrance iWay 350C is a touch-screen GPS with pre-loaded maps of the U.S. and Canada. It includes an MP3 player and photo viewer, along with an FM modulator to stream music and voice-prompted directions to your stereo.

The smaller sibling of the iWay 500C, iWay 350C has a smaller screen (3.5″ vs. 5″) and hard drive (4 GB vs. 20 GB).

Compare prices on the Lowrance iWay 350C

Here’s what others are saying about the iWay 350C:

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GPS Maps for Mexico


The holidays are over, winter is here, and many of us are dreaming of vacations in warmer climes. I’ve been asked a few times about maps for Mexico, and I was reminded recently of a website that offers a great deal of resources for the GPS enthusiast headed south of the border. So it seemed an appropriate time to call your attention to BiciMapas.

Although the stated focus is maps for mountain biking, there’s a lot more to the site than that. They have highway maps and digital raster graphics (DRG’s) that can be used in programs like OziExplorer. It seems like the most common format for their GPS maps is Garmin, but some maps are also available for Magellan receivers. And if Alberto Najera, the man behind BiciMapas, has his way, I’ll bet that you’ll see Lowrance maps from him before long.

Other than BiciMapas, your choices are limited. You could get the Garmin World Map or the Magellan Worldwide Basemap. But even Garmin says that such a low-level of detail product "is generally recommended only if no other coverage is available for the area."

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Lowrance iWAY 500C Review

UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For current recommendations, please refer to our auto GPS buyers guide.

The Lowrance iWAY 500C GPS is an award-winning auto navigation system. Named an Editors Choice by both PC Magazine and Laptop Magazine, the 500C does more than navigation; it includes an MP3 player as well. With more muscle than the 350C, the 500C comes with a larger screen (5″ vs. 3.5″) and bigger hard drive (20 GB vs. 4 GB).

23 readers at Amazon gave the iWAY 500C an average 4 out of 5 star rating.

Here’s what others are saying about the iWAY 500C:

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