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My New Toy – Garmin eTrex Vista HCx

Besides photography I have great interest in remote sensing, satellite imaging, aerial photography and no less to know where I am and to know where I left my footsteps on Earth, a.k.a GPS.

My first GPS device is Dopod P100. To be exact, a PDA with build in GPS receiver. Can’t expect too much. The performance is mediocre. Half of the time after I reached my destination it haven’t lock to any satellite. I sold it off two months ago and upgrade to a PDA phone.

After much consideration and research, I decided to go for Garmin eTrex Vista HCx. A new outdoor portable GPS unit by Garmin, equipped compass, altimeter, weather seal and IPX7 waterproof. The most important feature that attracts me is the high sensitivity receiver, claimed to work under heavy canopy and deep canyons.

Friend of mine got it for me from Amazon US. I don’t think is available in Malaysia at the time of writing.

Putting it to test drop my jaws. I was inside my room, playing with the functions, less than 2 minutes it tracks down my position. My table is 3 meters from the windows. I went out to the garden, in less than one minute it locks down 5 satellites, all with full bar, under thick canopy. I decided to give it a stress test, inside a car fitted with V-Kool! Guess what, it works! Certainly the signal has drop to half or one third. I still need external antenna to overcome V-Kool issue.

The next day I was in my friend’s car. I place it under the passenger door storage, forgot to power down. When we reached our destination, the next thing I realized it has record down our entire journey. The high sensitivity receiver ROCKS!

I strongly suggest this GPS device to all outdoor lovers. My intention is to mount it on my mountain bike, jungle tracking and hiking, to record my routes, speed and altitude. For those looking for car navigation system, Garmin eTrex Vista HCx isn’t suitable, due to its small LCD, lack of touch screen, no voice command and external antenna connector. Next week I am going to test it inside SMART tunnel. Bwahahaha…

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