Garmin Upgrades GPS Handhelds


Olathe, Kan. - Garmin is upgrading a slew of GPS consumer devices that help consumers find their way when they're hiking or hunting, not when they're driving.

  For active outdoorsy people, the company is upgrading its entry-level eTrex series of handheld GPS devices, adding a 5-megapixel camera to the ruggedized GPS handhelds in its GPSMAP 62 series, and upgrading a trio of handheld two-way radios with integrated GPS.

  For hunters, the company is expanding the range of GPS handheld that tracks hunting dogs.

 In the eTrex series, Garmin said it is improving ergonomics and the user interface, adding paperless geocaching, and in two of three models, upgrading the display to 65k colors. Battery life has been extended to 25 hours. They're due in the third quarter.

 On the on eTrex 20 and 30, the 2.2 inch 65k color display has also been enhanced for viewing in sunlight of  topographic, marine, and road maps, the company said. The eTrex 30 adds a built-in three-axis tilt-compensated electronic compass so users can see their heading even if the device isn't held level. The eTrex 30 also adds barometric altimeter to track pressure changes to pinpoint the user's altitude.

 The suggested retails of the eTrex 10 and 20 are $119.99 and $199.99, respectively.  The eTrex 30 retails for a suggested $299.99.

 In its GPSMAP 62 series of ruggedized handhelds, the company is adding 5-megapixel camera with automatic geotagging. Besides letting users take pictures to show others at a later date, the camera feature also helps users navigate back to a site they liked because the picture's GPS location is and encoded into the digital image file. Storage capacity for both models is 3.5GB.

  Because the GPSMAP 62stc or GPSMAP 62sc are waterproof, users can snap pictures in very wet conditions.

 Both models also feature

2.6-inch sunlight-readable color display, push-button interface, and up to 16 hours of battery life. With 3D digital elevation model data, users see changes in elevation ahead. Both feature integrated electronic compass and barometric altimeter, and the 62stc adds built-in topographic maps.

  Pricing was unavailable.

  For hunters rather than hikers, the new Astro 320 handheld dog-tracking receiver delivers increased range compared to its predecessor and a simpler user interface. It's due in July.

 Because of a redesigned antenna, range between the receiver and Garmin tracking collars has increased by almost 30 percent to up to nine miles in flat, unobstructed terrain. Like its predecessor, the Astro 320 tracks up to 10 dogs per receiver at once.

 A new three-axis electronic compass lets hunters accurately view their dog's position when holding the Astro 320 at any angle

The new waterproof handheld also lets users wirelessly transfer waypoints, tracks, and a dog's tracking settings to other Astro 320 users. 

 The Astro 320 runs on two AA batteries for up to 20 hours.

 The suggested retail for the receiver is $499.99.  Complete systems that add one DC 40 tracking collar and accessories will be available at $649.99.

 In its Rino series of GPS two-way FRS/GMRS  radios, Garmin plans third-quarter shipments of the $349-suggested Rino 610, $499 Rino 650, and $599 655t. All let users transmit their GPS coordinates to other users for viwing on their handheld's map display. They also send text messages to other Rino handhelds.

 The opening-price 610 features 1-watt FRS/GMRS powered by four AA batteries lasting up to 18 hours. The two step-ups feature 5-watt radios for 20-mile communication, 2.6-inch friendly touchscreen, barometric altimeter, 3-axis tilt-compensated compass and NOAA weather radio with Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME), which delivers county-by-county alerts.

 The 650 and 655t use a removable and rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack lasting up to 14 hours. An optional AA battery pack delivers up to 18 hours.

 The 655t adds 5-megapixel camera with geotagging.


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