G armin is treading new ground with the Colorado series. An updated appearance and a more structured amount of buttons. The monitor has gained a higher resolution whilst the Rock 'n Roller makes its appearance. Just as is the case with mobile phones, the handheld can be adjusted to our use via profiles and we can share data wireless. Sporty users can connect a cadans meter. For me, the main change is the introduction of Wherigo, an enhancement that is similar to geocaching yet offers a lot more than just searching for caches. In this review we will take a closer look at the Colorado 300.
The Garmin Colorado 300 is standard equipped with the main roads worldwide map, although one would certainly need other maps, fitting in with the goal of how to use it, too. Fortunately, there is an extensive range of Garmin devices. In this review I frequently compared the Colorado 300 to the GPSMAP 60 series because the Colorado series is the successor to the GPSMAP 60 series.
Besides the handheld GPS, we find the following in the box: 2 CDs with software, a USB cable and a carbine clip. But first, the handheld. The GPS device has the familiar solid Garmin appearance yet with more convenient dimensions. It's not that it has shrunk that much compared to the GPSMAP60 series; its proportions are handier. It’s a bit wider, thinner and shorter, also thanks to the smaller antenna.
It was not a problem to carry the Colorado 300 with me in my chest pocket whilst going for walks. The included carbine clip is undoubtedly very solid, however, the Colorado swings restlessly back and forth while walking. It's not that the device will sustain damage from this, as everything seems of a reliable quality, but a nervously moving device simply irritates me. I tried to use the clip as a clip; however, I was unable to do it.
Striking is the Rock 'n Roller, a smart combination of a dial, tilt and press button. The dial lets you scroll through the menus, zoom in and out in the twinkling of an eye, insert texts, set the alarm to the correct time and set the brightness of the backlight. Quite rightly a multifunctional component. At first, scrolling was a bit unhandy, the dial responses so quickly that I had trouble pressing the correct item. After a while, however, I got the hang of it, although I also used the tilt button frequently.
The tilt button can also be used to scroll and besides that, we can move the indicator on the map screen with it. Sometimes the tilt button gave me trouble too. The tilt button is rather thin compared to the rest of the Rock 'n Roller. My hands are on the large side, however; glove-wearing people will also encounter troubles. The central press button functions as enter button, thus confirming the choice. The button has to be depressed explicitly, which means unwanted changes are not likely to happen.
N ext to the dial, some two silver colored buttons are positioned, the so-called soft keys. The functions of these soft keys change and depend on the application that is activated. The current function is indicated on the screen in the top corners. The soft key on the right will be used most frequently. This button offers access to the shortcuts.
You end up in the set of applications of your own choice through the shortcut button. By means of the Rock 'n Roller you can 'roll' to the desired application and activate it with the enter button. All of this is visible on the renewed monitor. According to the specifications, the Colorado's monitor is the same size as that of the GPSMAP 60; 3.8 inch (corner to corner) and that is all there is for comparison between the two screens. The type indication is not rendered on the screen, which offers almost 1 cm more space on the top side of the screen. And in width, more use has been made of the pixels which offer a broader view with the same zoom setting. The resolution has been more than doubled, from 160 x 240 = 38.400 pixels to 240 x 400 = 96.000 pixels. This should offer more detail. Indeed; 'should', since this is not exactly the case.
We did not expect it, but on the pictures we can see that the GPS model of 3 year ago is better when it comes to the ability to read its monitor, even in the shade. It's not until standing in bright sunshine that the Colorado screen shows to its full advantage and beautiful details become visible. Reflection is part of the problem. From a photographic point of view, this problem could be solved with a polarisation filter; however, that is not how the device is used in practice. The dark background colour is cause of the problem too and cannot be adjusted. On top of that, the contrast can't be set, so only activating the backlight will improve things a little. In the evening with the light on, we have a perfect view even if the light is not fully on. Unfortunately, the backlight uses up more energy which decreases battery life. The package comes with a sticker that advises to use batteries with a capacity of more than 2500mAh. However, this is more of a must than a luxury. And the documentation is right when telling you that standard batteries will offer a maximum of 16 hours of working with the Colorado 300.
This brings me to the battery compartment. It is found on the back of the GPS device and can be accessed by turning over the catch and sliding away the back cover. This is not done all that easily. Perhaps the batteries I used, Hama Digital 2700, were slightly larger than other batteries, although this is not the entire cause. I think the reason is sliding over the rubber ring that offers quite some resistance. Of course, the rubber ring is needed in order to ensure the Colorado's waterproof feature; however, it could have also been reached with the construction of the GPSMAP 60.
Perhaps Garmin could include a set of 4 AA batteries with battery charger in the box. The user has to purchase these anyway, and if they come in the package, Garmin has control over the specifications. The device takes average penlights too, although this should be done only as the last resort because of the costs. I don't have much confidence in the way the Colorado back is locked; a small plastic cube that is kept in place by a small, metal spring. I had to use quite a bit of power to open and close it, which makes me think it will wear out sooner rather than later. The plastic cube has to slide over a metal edge which is made of a harder material.
Near the battery compartment, the SD card slot is found. This is a two-way improvement compared to the GPSMAP 60. The larger SD card is easier to handle and to swap cards, we no longer have to fiddle below the battery compartment. Moreover, the SD card slot is also protected from water getting in by a rubber ring.
Finally, the top of the device shows a shrunken antenna, the on/off button and a rubber cover hiding the connections for a USB cable and an external antenna. The USB connection is used not only for connecting to a PC, but also to connect to the car adapter to get its power for car navigation.
Even though the antenna is smaller dimension-wise; that doesn’t necessarily mean its performance has to suffer. In order to measure correctly, the antenna alone is not sufficient, the way the device handles signal errors also plays a big role. I was able to compare three generations of Garmin handhelds.
A ccuracy is found in the red circles. The devices were in my not all that spacious backyard positioned in between the houses, without the horizon being visible. The mutual differences were correct for this situation; however, in other circumstances I saw some surprising results. During my daily walk, I carried the Colorado in one hand and the GPSMAP60 CSx in the other. I visited different spots in my hometown and came to the following grivations.
Park, under the trees : Open space : In the city, “average” street : In de city, narrow alley :
6 mtr 3 - 4 mtr 7 mtr 18 - 25 mtr
A 2 -2 final score, where I ex-pected the Colorado to do better with its 2 year newer technique, in particular in the city.
7 mtr 2 - 3 mtr 8 mtr 15 - 21 mtr
The on/off button has two functions. In order to activate or deactivate the device, you have to depress this button for a few seconds. If the button is depressed briefly, a system status page will appear and it is possible to set the backlight by turning the Rock 'n Roller.
Furthermore, the package contains 2 CDs. One contains MapSource software which lets you manage waypoints, tracks, routes etcetera. This software enables a direct link to Google Maps and Google Earth. WebUpdater is also on the CD in the service program with which the system software can be checked and updated.
The other CD contains the compact reference guide and the extensive user guide. For me the user guide is not complete; a few descriptions of options within certain applications are missing. For example: within the application "Where to go?" the option 'Via' is possible, however, not a word about it is found on the CD. And there is no hardcopy of the Manual included, which can be a real lack. Since you have to start the computer all the time or print one out yourself.
In addition to the already mentioned shortcuts, the device also offers the possibility of using Profiles. Standard profiles are Recreational, Geocaching, Automotive, Maritime and Fitness. Moreover; you can create and add profiles to your own preference. A profile enables the user to adjust the Colorado to certain specific aims. Through shortcuts, we decide which applications should be available. This saves us from unnecessary scrolling through applications we have no desire to use anyway. And we decide the monitor reproduction at some spots. The image shows the monitor of the Trip computer for a walk profile and a car profile.
A small number of applications are familiar from earlier devices. We have come across the Maps page, Compass, Altimeter, Trip computer, Tracks, Agenda and so on, before. Just as earlier handhelds, the Colorado 300 offers Geocaching. First, you have to install a plug-in from the Geocaching site, after which caches are ready for downloading directly to the device. People with a premium membership will also receive the extensive description of the cache. Printing of the description is then no longer needed. All features can be rendered on the monitor; creator, difficulty and type of cache. Papers getting soaking wet no longer exist.
A route planner is also available and it functions in almost the same way as those of its predecessors. The sound to alert an exit ahead could have been a bit louder for me; with the radio playing, you can hardly hear the alert and you really have to beware of not missing anything. The broader and sharper monitor however, does offer a clearer view of the road you're following.
I would like to review some new applications. Firstly, the application: Wireless sharing. This does not work according to a special standard; it can be used only between Garmin devices that are equipped with this application. This way tracks, waypoints, routes and geo caches can be shared.
Next, we find the application 'miscellaneous'. This application is used together with the application shortcuts. The user can decide per profile which application is wanted for quick access. The applications that are not added to the shortcuts are automatically transferred to the application miscellaneous. They are not completely removed as the option menu states; they can still be used and eventually added again if desired.
The Colorado 300 has been equipped with an Image viewer that allows for viewing JPG files, and the Rock 'n Roller can be used for panning or zooming. It does, however, require patience, since it takes quite a while particularly with large files. The monitor however, is vertically orientated which means that only the middle part of pictures is reproduced on it. We won't be using the viewer that often for this purpose, nor is it the reason for applying this application. For the first time ever, this handheld offers a combination of geo caches, their description and the images that go with it. This new application is called: Wherigo.
A beautiful enhancement on the already popular geo caching function, however, it goes a few steps further. This possibility alone would be enough reason to purchase the Colorado. The application has been released by Groundspeak, after a 5 year period of developing the function in cooperation with Garmin. The Colorado is the first GPS device with this built-in possibility. The expectation is that mobile phones and PDAs with onboard Internet and GPS will soon follow in supporting this technique. The new Garmin Oregon series is also equipped with this new function.
A download has to be obtained from the Wherigo site, the so-called cartridge. A cartridge can contain different content. A quest for a treasure belongs to the possibilities (a more enhanced type of geo cache), a puzzle linked to locations; sightseeing in a city or a virtual adventure (the adventure will then take place in an area created by the device). Sometimes, you need to go to an actual location in the real world although there are also cartridges available that can be played anywhere as long as there is sufficient space.
All the necessary data such as descriptions, waypoints and supporting media (images, sound) are inside the cartridge. Once downloaded to the device, nothing else is needed to carry out the experience and to go through it. Cartridges can be searched by country. At the moment of writing this review, we can download 150 different cartridges for the United States, for the United Kingdom there are 25 cartridges available.
The Colorado offers a simple tutorial which offers you all the know-how of the basic features in a mere 10 minutes. It is a Roll Playing Game that gives us our own roll to play; carry out a simple task and our moves call up reactions from the device. The moment you reach a certain spot (that's where the GPS comes in), a message will appear on the monitor. Pocket PCs with built-in GPS functionality are also able to play the cartridge via a player. This player can also be downloaded on the Wherigo site.
To find out how it works, the Wherigo builder has to be downloaded and installed. This enables us to build our own cartridges, and in the "Tools" menu the emulator is found that allows for viewing the cartridges. A map of the experience area appears on the monitor and an image of a Pocket PC which shows what we will see while using it. When exploring the site, many ideas came into my mind and I predict this application to become a lot bigger than geo caching. Imagine going on holiday to an unknown region. It will become possible to plan trips at home and download the necessary tour guides beforehand. Of course, commercial possibilities are to be expected and at this moment, companies are already trying to find out how they can offer cartridges at certain prices.
Garmin start screen
Tripcomputer with compass
Add a waypoint
Change a waypoint
Add a waypoint name
Garmin GPS map
Altimeter calibration process
Calibration process completed
Heart rate monitor
Change data fields
Garmin GPS settings
If I look at the features alone, I get the feeling of watching a beautiful stereo set that lacked the money for a good set of matching speakers. The Colorado offers a lot; however, the monitor makes it hard to enjoy this to the fullest. I can't but feel that the designer thought out a beautiful layout without realizing how reflections can badly influence the monitor in practice. I liked The Rock 'n Roller for zooming in on a map page and its possibilities to scroll. Inserting characters is fine however; to move the hands of a clock in order to set the alarm is more of a nostalgic feature than that it is practical. Some people have their doubts about the waterproof quality of the dial construction. As for me, I think Garmin will have taken no risks with guaranteeing the waterproof.
The lock of the battery compartment has yet to prove itself. The model I tested needed a firm hand to open and close it, which is usually a sign of untimely wear. When reviewing the possibilities, there is not a lot left to be desired for GPS handhelds and what appeals to me the most, is the Wherigo enhancement. We will hear more about this application in the future, while it is already available at this moment. If you ask me to evaluate the Colorado 300, I would say it's 8.5 out of 10. The same result as the GPSmap 60 CSx achieved that was reviewed before. I have second thoughts about the monitor, which is the most important part of the device; after all, it is where we get our information from, and that is why I cannot give a higher mark.
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کارت حافظه 256 گیگابایت
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