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Computerized Investing > August 13, 2011

Magellan eXplorist 610 GPS Receiver

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

Back in April I reviewed the Magellan Roadmate 9055 GPS navigation system. With its large display and short battery life, the Roadmate 9055 isn’t designed for excursions outside of the car. For those looking for true portable GPS capabilities designed for outdoor enthusiasts, Magellan has its eXplorist family of dedicated outdoor GPS receivers. The company recently gave me one of their 610 models to review. The 610 is at the higher end of the eXplorist product line, sporting a three-inch color touch screen, 3.2-megapixel camera, three-axis electronic compass and barometric altimeter. Furthermore, the 610 comes preloaded with topographical maps and supports geo-caching.

Look & Design

The eXplorist 610 is an attractive piece of gadgetry. It measures 2.57 × 5.04 × 1.45 inches and weighs in at just under seven ounces. While it fits easily in your hand, it is bulky enough that it won’t comfortably fit in your pocket. There is an integrated loop at the bottom of the device for attaching a carabiner or strap. The rubbery exterior helps you to maintain a solid grip. The eXplorist 610 has a rugged feel, which makes me believe it could survive a drop or two. The screen is even protected from drops by a raised edge. With its IPX-7 waterproof rating, it can withstand submersion in water for up to a minute without damage, so don’t worry about using the device in the rain. The 240 × 400 three-inch touch screen dominates the device; as a result there are only three buttons: the on-off button on the top and two function buttons on the side, which you can assign to perform specific duties.

On the back of the device is the camera lens and a microphone/speaker phone for recording and listening to voice notes. Here you will also find the mechanism to lock and unlock the sealed battery door and the slot for the optional mounting arm for in-car use. Lastly, there is a rubber-covered USB slot for transferring photos, loading maps and updating firmware.

Navigation & Use

As I mentioned before, the vast touch screen is where you will be doing most of the work with the eXplorist 610. This does seem to slow things down a bit, but the trade-off is that the eXplorist 610’s exterior is not bristling with buttons. Luckily, the three-inch display gives you enough real estate to work with. However, if you are not a fan of touch screens, then this is not the device for you. With the OneTouch favorites menu, you have instant access to bookmarks of favorite places. You can set such locations as your home, base camp, or where you parked your car.

Using the device while trekking around Chicago, I didn’t have problems with the device keeping a signal, although it sometimes took a while for it to do so once I was outside. According to Magellan, the 610’s GPS sports accuracy up to three to five meters (10 to 15 feet). The three-axis compass did a good job of telling me the direction I was headed, while the barometric altimeter kept me informed of my elevation and kept track of changing weather conditions. As with most GPS devices, don’t expect the 610 to acquire a position fix while you are indoors. Overall, I found the accuracy and consistency of the GPS to be good.

The Backtrack function allows you to use the track of your current travels to navigate back to your starting point, lowering your chances of getting lost. Also, you can set waypoints—fixed locations with a specified longitude and latitude—that mark a destination or a point along your route. You can then have the 610 plot the route to these waypoints.

Pre-Loaded Maps

The eXplorist 610 offers the World Edition map, which allows for two- and three-dimensional viewing angles and includes a complete road network in the U.S., Canada, Western Europe and Australia, as well as major roads throughout the rest of the world. In addition, the Summit Series USA topographical map includes contour lines, trails, waterways and points of interest. The City Series, which you can purchase, adds turn-by-turn routing.

Geocaching

Geocaching is an activity that has caught on in recent years where people use GPS devices to track down “treasures” that have been hidden anywhere in the world. Via the Geocaching.com website, you can use the eXplorist receiver to track down these geocaches. When you purchase an eXplorist device you receive a 30-day free trial version of Geocaching.com’s premium membership, which allows you to download more than 20 unique attributes for each geocache, including name, location, description, terrain and more.

Media

With the eXplorist 610 you can create, save and share photos, videos and voice memos. The 610 comes with 500M of onboard storage and will support microSD expansion memory cards. You are able to geo-reference your photos and recordings so you know exactly where you were when you shot the picture or video or recorded the audio.

Battery Life

The eXplorist 610 uses two AA batteries, which are included. Magellan claims that they will give you up to 16 hours of operation. To help conserve the batteries, you can enable the suspend mode to turn off the device but maintain GPS tracking. The eXplorist 610 also provides adjustable power management controls.

Overall

The eXplorist 610 is a must-have for someone who spends a lot of time exploring the outdoors, especially in areas with which you are not overly familiar. Being able to know your direction, where you have been, and how to get back to where you came from are features anyone who has gotten lost in the wilderness would love to have. The added features of being able to take pictures and record audio and video, and then geo-tag them to know where you were at the time, make the eXplorist 610 all the more attractive. The less-than-intuitive touch screen menus take some getting used to, and the $450 price tag probably means the 610 isn’t for the casual outdoorsperson. But if you spend a lot of time off the beaten path, I suggest you take a look at the Magellan eXplorist 610.

Pros

  • Solid, rugged construction
  • Large touch screen for easy viewing, even outdoors
  • Ability to geo-tag pictures and videos

Cons

  • Too bulky to carry in pocket
  • Touch screen controls are not overly intuitive
  • Expensive

Magellan eXplorist 610 GPS Receiver
http://www.magellangps.com/Products/eXploristseries/eXplorist-610

$449.99 (Available for $404.90 from Amazon.com)

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA, is the author of “Gadget Corner.” All reviews are based on firsthand experience of the product or service. No third-party compensation is received for opinions on products, services, websites or topics. However, sometimes the author is not required by the manufacturer or their PR firm to return the product under review. In such instances, it is our policy to convey this within the review. The views and opinions expressed in these reviews are strictly those of the author. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer or provider.

Wayne A. Thorp, CFA is a vice president and senior financial analyst at AAII and editor of Computerized Investing. Follow him on Twitter at @WayneTAAII.


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