Garmin eTrex review: Garmin eTrex

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Lightweight; sharp screen; loads of memory.

The Bad No driving directions; expensive; additional MapSource programs are costly.

The Bottom Line Although the eTrex Vista and its add-on programs may be a bit pricey, you will not find a more feature-packed GPS device in a smaller package.

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Garmin's eTrex family of handheld GPS devices has come full circle in the form of the eTrex Vista. Building on the success of earlier models, including the eTrex Summit and Legend units, the eTrex Vista combines the best of both products in a single, powerful, 12-channel GPS receiver that features a built-in compass and altimeter, a whopping 24MB of memory, detailed base maps, and an extensive database of local attractions. Garmin's eTrex family of handheld GPS devices has come full circle in the form of the eTrex Vista. Building on the success of earlier models, including the eTrex Summit and Legend units, the eTrex Vista combines the best of both products in a single, powerful, 12-channel GPS receiver that features a built-in compass and altimeter, a whopping 24MB of memory, detailed base maps, and an extensive database of local attractions.

Familiar features
The eTrex Vista maintains the weight (5.3 ounces) and dimensions (4.4 by 2 by 1.2) of its predecessors and is housed in the same waterproof, pocket-sized casing. The main design difference between the Summit and the Vista is color (the Vista has a metallic-silver exterior). No changes were made to the 2.1-by-1.1-inch, high-resolution, monochrome LCD, and none were needed since the map detail is amazingly clear for such a small display.

Like the Summit, the Vista sports five convenient, black rubber buttons, including two Zoom controls, Power/backlight, Find, and Pages buttons, on either side of the unit, allowing for easy one-handed operation. However, Garmin has mounted a sixth button, called the Click Stick, on the face of the Vista. This five-position, joysticklike navigation key lets you scroll through the various options within each of the main pages.

You can also use the onscreen keyboard to enter search criteria. Use the Page button to view satellite information, maps, compass heading, elevation history, or a trip computer (which displays an odometer, speed, average moving time, and more). The sixth page is a Windows-like menu where you can create routes, mark waypoints, view track logs, and find local points of interest. We were particularly impressed with the extended Find function, which displays the distances ("as the crow flies") and a heading pointer to your desired location on both the map and compass pages.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Maps Included North America
  • Run Time (Up To) 12 hours
  • Weight 5.3 oz
  • Receiver 12 channel
  • Recommended Use hiking