We have a brand new Magellan Explorist 610 GPS to keep us on the straight and narrow this weekend.
We told you last week about the new range of Magellan outdoor GPS units - look, we did, here - and now we have one to play with during the PlanetFear Lakes Epic this weekend, well, we will if the organisers ever get round to sending out the promised GPX route files...
OS Mapping Discount
Anyway, the Magellan Explorist 610 it is, complete with geotagging camera and touch screen and a price tag of £399.99. One thing we didn't mention, because we didn't know, is that the new units come with a whopping great discount on OS mapping - according to the flier in the box, the whole UK at 1:50,000 scale for £49.95, a saving of £100 over the normal price. Or a National Park at 1:25,000 for £64.99, which is 50% off. Not bad, we'd be tempted to go for the national 1:50K offer.
The unit itself reminds us of the top-end Garmin Oregon, it's got a similar, easy-to-remove battery cover, 2xAA cells inside, a touchscreen colour screen and similar levels of waterproofing to IPX7 and solid feeling build quality.
Fire it up and the similarities continue, the screen's clear, the menus, we think are going to take a bit of getting used to and have a graphical interface. It's easy to confuse graphics and nice icons with useability and we've already spent a while trying to hunt down different functions, so we reckon as with most GPS units, it'll take a little familiarisation to get the best from it.
One area where it does seem to score over its Garmin rival, is in the clarity of map reproduction. It's significantly clearer and easier to read in our opinion, it also seems to scroll reasonably fast. Again like the Garmin, there are muiltiple features and you can even record video footage using the built-in camera or use it as a turn-by-turn car satnav. Whether that's a desirable thing is down to you really.
Our basic belief is that you shouldn't really need a user manual, which is just as well since the Explorist 610 appears to come without one - you should be able to do the basics intuitively. The good news is that it passed the first test by connecting up to our Macbook - after we'd tweaked the connection settings from power only to connect to PC - and we were able to drag and drop a couple of GPX files onto the routes folder of the unit.
Unfortunately, when we try to open the routes, the unit refused to do that and instead automatically restarted 'for better performance'. Copying the GPX files to 'tracks' folder instead sorted that out and we could access our two routes on the unit.
We can also tell you that the Magellan got a satellite fix as quickly as anything else we've used. So far, so good. Map reproduction and speed of zoom and scroll seems fine and the menu is a little clunky, but not unusable. One saving grace may turn out to be a customisable short-cuts screen where you can allocate buttons to frequently used menus.
Anyway, the real test comes at the weekend - will it get Team OM around 120 odd km of Lake District tracks in two days? We'll let you know...
More Magellan info at www.magellangps.com/uk.