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Garmin GPSMap276Cx review - GIS centric - beware  


GISJoel
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I had a chance to review the latest Garmin and have repeated it here.  Just so you know, many Ologists use Garmins for simple point, line, poly generation and geotagging of photos.  This is a GIS centric review and with an Alaska focus (we fly, boat around with few road systems).

SUMMARY: The newest full size handheld - Garmin GPSMap 276Cx will work with all of our GIS data transfer software choices and appears to be a good replacement for older more familiar large screen models like the 296/276.  With GLONAAS and WAAS, you should get good performance under canopy and with external antenna, good performance inside vehicles.  However, this is not an AVIATION unit, so no Aviation charts will load on it.  Blue Charts and TOPO backdrops will load on this device as well as data transfer to and from DNRGPS, MXGPS and our GPX to ArcGIS add in.  Too clunky to carry in your pocket, its ideal for a simple to use, cheap (under $700) device for off-road, boat and in the air navigation system.  If I was carrying this around, I would buy the external antenna.

 
BACKROUND:
Recently I had a chance to evaluate a new Garmin based on an older, but very familiar build - the https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/539722&source=gmail&ust=1544916277723000&usg=AFQjCNGu8XwyLn3SGc9dGoyNiaURHHxkS g">Garmin GPSMap 276Cx.      We continue to support Garmin's for their simplicity, low power consumption, ruggedness, cheap map background and simple track/point collection needs as well as excellent navigation to points derived in GIS.  Datum handling is always considered, and though it lives in WGS84, its paramount to squeeze every meter out of a Garmin by utilizing a good datum handling software like DNRGPS or MXGPS.  Track point collection, necessary for line, poly generation remains a downside in Garmins as well as inability to name waypoints quickly, but Garmins remain the simplest low-power GPS tool on the market today.
 
For those familiar with the aviation units 296 or the 276 , this device has been brought back by Garmin with its popular form factor with buttons on right and a large color screen.  It is also WAAS/GLONASS enabled for our northern parks.  
 
It has been reviewed by consumers, mostly those who ride motorbikes, a few hikers.  I'll add a review linkhttp://www.globeriders.com/article_pages/article10_gps/article10_gpsmap276cx.shtml&source=gmail&ust=1544916277723000&usg=AFQjCNHWEVegXOTNticig1wqec73a2Yy8 w"> here, but were GIS folks, who mainly use Garmin's to mount in planes, boats, and sometimes on the trails to map points, lines, polys and navigation.  Here is my quick review with a focus from a GIS perspective.  
 
  • Being listed as a handheld, I think its a bit big to carry around in the hand, but since many of you are in planes, boats, atv's, a larger screen aides in mapping.  Its ideally mounted and powered by external power sources.
  • Has external antenna port (have to buy antenna separately).
  • Can connect to PC using Garmin Serial which is what DNRGPS, MXGPS, and a Windows 10 laptop will prefer.  
  • It is listed as either a Marine or Automotive for USAGE.  It is not capable of loading aviation maps.
  • Not a touch screen - uses buttons on the side which is good for Alaskan's. Nice, bright screen, ruggedized and buttons in the familiar layout make this a good device to transition from older 296.   Wish all the buttons were a bit bigger though.
  • Fast startup, and quick Time to Hot Fix.
  • Does NOT come with WAAS or GLONASS enabled.  You must do this.  I would set both on for any job, never would i use any garmin w/out these enabled.
  • Swappable battery (i would buy 2 for field work) or can be powered by 3AA batteries! Has power cords for connecting to battery, and Mini USB/USB for charging.  Seems reasonable on power, so conservative use with an extra battery should last at least 4-5 days of 8 hour days (lights, bluetooth, wifi off).
  • Waypoints, 10,000 limit.  
  • No Camera
  • Has Bluetooth and WIFI. These drain batteries, but you could get weather for instance with WIFI.
  • POI - same with all other units - can replace with our NPS POI very easily.
  • Micro SD card sold separately, but necessary if wanting to display GIS maps as background.
  • Tracks .  
    • 20,000 active tracklog points.  That translates to 10 hours flying at 1 second interval!  or 75 hours at 5 second intervals (like on the ground)
    • Like all Garmins, Track management is key to collect lines and polys effectively.  When left on Tracks page, you can toggle Start/Stop which creates new line segments
    • A nice feature of press and hold ENTER/MARK takes you to the waypoint page.  You can store a point, then the screen switches back to tracks page without stopping the active track. This is almost like Nesting a point feature.
    • Sadly, no PAUSE button, which could pause tracklog when stopping.
    • The highest interval rate with Distance is 10 meters, when metric display is set.  When statue units are selected, only 52 feet rate is possible (1/100 of a mile).
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