Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Garmin eTrex Vista Handheld GPS Navigator

Garmin eTrex
Garmin eTrex Vista Handheld GPS Navigator
by Garmin
3.7 out of 5 stars(126)

Buy new: $299.99 $179.99
12 used & new from $115.00

(Visit the Best Sellers in list for authoritative information on this product's current rank.)

Garmin's eTrex Vista GPS receiver is smaller than its popular eMaps, but far more powerful. The Vista offers more memory, more features, and more convenience than any other GPS hardware in this price range.

Don't be fooled by the product's small screen. Although smaller than the display used in products like the eMap, it has a higher resolution, letting it show more information more crisply. Small text can be difficult to read from a distance, but there are "big number" options available to make important data like your speed easy to read.

It's this configurability that makes the eTrex Vista so special.

Map page (shown with optional MapSource topo detail).
You can easily set it up to suit your needs, regardless of the situation. Menu choices are highlighted and confirmed with a small joystick near the top of the unit, providing an elegant interface for navigating a formidable amount of options. Our only complaint is that the joystick used to access all the product's features is offset to the left, making it nearly impossible to control using only your right hand. When the joystick is held in your left hand, however, every control is within easy reach of your left thumb, freeing your right hand to hold a flashlight, walking stick, lantern, or anything else.

This GPS unit's diminutive size and weight, not to mention its rugged design, make it an ideal hiking companion. It's waterproof in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes and is generously coated with shock-absorbing rubber. The barometric altimeter keeps a historical record of your ascents and descents, graphing elevation changes so you can easily track your progress.

Elevation page
The ability to store waypoints, points of interest, routes, and other information means you can blaze your own trail and always find your way back to camp.

Best of all, 24 MB of internal memory makes it possible to store an enormous amount of data from Garmin's optional MapSource CDs, turning the eTrex Vista into an interactive road atlas. The memory isn't expandable, but 24 MB is enough to store street-level data for entire states in some cases.

A serial cable is included for transferring the maps from your PC to the GPS unit, but it's terribly slow. A USB connector, sold separately, transfers data in a fraction of the time.

The eTrex Vista was very accurate in testing, especially in a car on the open road. Accuracy diminished somewhat when the device was used in heavy tree cover or a dense urban area, but not enough that you're ever going to get lost or miss an exit. Used side-by-side with an eMap, the eTrex Vista kept up in update speed while displaying even more information on the moving map than the eMap did, cementing its position as perhaps the best all-around handheld GPS unit money can buy. --T. Byrl Baker


  • Small and light without sacrificing features
  • 24 MB of integrated memory stores reams of detailed maps
  • High-resolution screen displays sharp text legible even at extremely small sizes


  • Can't be used one-handed when held in the right hand
  • Smaller display is hard to read from a distance, as when the device is placed on a dashboard

Go wherever life takes you and never get lost! The Garmin eTrex Vista handheld mapping GPS provides all the navigation tools you will need when you depart on your next adventure. This GPS comes packed with important traveling features including a barometric altimeter, an electronic compass, a detailed basemap of the Americas, and more!

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