I purchased the Garmin Oregon 300 2.70 version after installing the MapSource software, then refreshed and updated it to version 3.10. I can now say that Oregon is a more sophisticated and evolutionary GPS device than the Garmin Etrex, Etrex Legend, Etrex Venture, Etrex Vista, GPS 90, GPS III, GPS V, and the GPS because I’ve used previous Garmin GPS units like the Garmin Etrex, Etrex Legend, Etrex Venture, Etrex Vista, GPS 90, GPS III, GPS V, and the GPS.
Garmin Oregon 300 Review
Oregon is seen above next to a Colorado on the left and a GPSMAP 60CSx on the right. The body of Oregon is a bit shorter and broader than the 60CSx, but it’s approximately the same size as Colorado. Unlike the other two units, Oregon includes an inside antenna, making it shorter and less prone to catch on trees or other obstacles. Oregon is 15-20g lighter than the other two, but the difference isn’t significant. The rubberized back and sides are pleasant to grasp and provide the impression of a solid grip. The device has no controls other than the power switch. Everything is controlled via a touchscreen.
Oregon features the same 76mm display as Colorado, with a resolution of 240×400 pixels. The high-resolution and higher color depth of the 60CSx allow for considerably nicer appearing maps. Anti-aliased text and linework show on the maps, making them extremely clear and legible.
As you can see in the picture above, the Oregon screen has the brightest illumination of the three devices, making it easy to see in low-light situations. However, indirect sunshine and bright overcast are reversed: the 60CSx is the easiest to read, while Oregon is the most difficult. This seems to be related to Oregon’s matt screen surface. While the maps are well visible, it is not as excellent as the other two units. The Oregon 550 has a more or less glossy screen, but it’s not as legible in intense light as the 60CSx.
The ease with which the screen may be scratched was also disappointing. Two significant scratches were created by a tiny particle of grit caught beneath my finger while dragging over the display. This issue is solved by using a screen protector.
The Colorado and Oregon displays are less sensitive to viewing angles than the 60CSx’s.
Both the Oregon 300 and 550 feature an electronic compass and a barometric altimeter. The 3-axis til compensating compass on the 550 makes it simpler to operate since it doesn’t need to be kept horizontal.
A touch screen interface replaces the buttons and Rock n Roller of the 60s and Colorado. The controls are described in more depth in the next section.
A rubberized removable battery cover covers the rear of the device. The rear surface may be removed by lifting the latch and replacing the batteries. Oregon, like the 60CSx, utilizes a microSD data card that is inserted into a slot underneath the battery.
The rear cover, like Colorado, includes a mounting rail for a variety of mounts that slide onto the rail. The device comes with a carabiner attachment that works well for connecting it to a shoulder strap or belt. The car mount utilizes the same mounting rail as the 60CSx car mount and is considerably simpler to use.
The USB connection is hidden behind a rubber cover on the unit’s bottom end. There is also a lanyard attachment. An external antenna cannot be connected since there is no connection.
The battery compartment’s rubber seal is significantly recessed, making it more challenging to clean than the other two components. The device is waterproof to IPX7 standards and does not float, according to Garmin.
The battery life seems comparable to Colorado, although it is less than that of the 60CSx. According to the Garmin handbook, you can go for up to 16 hours. I was getting 8-10 hours of reasonably complex usage out of 2500 mAh NiMH batteries. The amount of time you spend using the backlight, redrawing maps, and using the compass, among other things, has an impact on the battery life. Because Colorado firmware upgrades have improved battery life, it’s essential to double-checking that your unit’s software is up to current. If you’re using NiMH batteries, you should replace them every day if you’re going to leave the device on all day.
A vehicle kit with a suction windshield mount and a separate lighter power cable that connects into the unit’s USB connector is available for usage in the car. The Colorado car-power kit’s cord does not suit Oregon. The rail installation on the Oregon and Colorado makes getting the unit on and off the vehicle mount a lot simpler than the 60CSx.
Oregon, unlike the 60CSx and Colorado, seems to utilize a different GPS chipset. All three units performed similarly in unscientific testing under challenging circumstances. Others have said that Oregon’s receiver isn’t as excellent as others, but that didn’t seem to be the case. The repair time was comparable to that of the other units.
Oregon’s only control is the power button. The touchscreen is used to control all other operations. The screen has a significantly softer feel to it, and your touch glides over it effortlessly.
When the GPS and your hands are both wet, using the screen is no issue. The user interface’s on-screen buttons are big enough to operate with gloved hands.
As mentioned in the preceding section, the matt surface of the screen makes it difficult to read the maps in intense light and is easily scratched.
The Oregon 550 has the same appearance as the Oregon 300, but it includes a 3.2-megapixel camera on the rear (2048×1536 pixels). The camera features autofocus and can focus near enough to fill the picture with a 50mm item. There are lesser resolution options, but with the amount of storage on the device and the availability of data cards, there’s no need to utilize anything other than the maximum resolution.
The camera lens is substantially recessed, offering excellent protection and some shade from intense sunshine. When the back cover of the GPS is removed, the camera lens is exposed for simple cleaning.
The image quality is comparable to that of a high-end camera phone, although not quite as excellent as the ruggedized 5 megapixels Olympus 1030SW with which we tested it. There isn’t a flash. As you’d expect from a camera with such a tiny lens and image element, low-light pictures include noise.
The picture is tagged with the lat/long of where you are standing if the GPS has a lock when it is taken. Geotagging is a term used to describe photographs that have been geotagged. MapToaster Topo/NZ can open a collection of geotagged images and generate connected waypoints for them automatically.
The main menu is divided into four sections, each with six icons. These icons provide you access to maps, searches, tracks and waypoint management, GPS setup, compass, trip meter, and a slew of additional features that every Garmin user is acquainted with.
You may navigate between pages by dragging your finger across the screen or using the arrow buttons at the bottom of the screen.
At the bottom of the menu, the screens are indications for battery life and GPS signal strength. The satellite signal panel is opened by tapping the signal strength indicator.
You may rearrange the icons on the menu pages to suit your needs. Profiles are also available on the GPS. Recreational, Geocaching, Automotive, Marine, and Fitness usage have pre-defined profiles. The profile enables you to save all of your settings for a particular activity and quickly move between them.
Drag the map around the screen to move it. The zoom in/out buttons are located in the top-right corner and are beautifully transparent so that the map is not obscured any more than required. It’s effortless to move about on the map view.
A pin appears when you touch on the map. A bar and the top display information about the POI or map item that the point of the pin contacts. The pin connects the POI for Lawyers Delight Beach in the picture above, and the hook is 138 kilometers northwest of our present position.
The pin remains in the same place on the screen as you move the map. By moving characteristics beneath the tip of the nail, you may view information about them. You could accomplish the same thing on the Colorado or 60CSx by moving the mouse cursor over an item.
You may dig down into the screen with additional information about the POI or map item by clicking on the bar at the top of the map, as seen above. There are buttons at the bottom of the detail screen to save the location as a waypoint or start navigating it.
Oregon also offers on-road navigation when appropriate maps are installed. Garmin users will be acquainted with the crisp screens. There are no vocal prompts in this game.
A list of search categories appears when choosing the “Where To” option on the main menu. For what you enter, the search tool does a sliding match. Hillsborough, Marleys Hill, and more places are found when you type in “HILL.” Their distance orders the results from the search location. The 60CSx Find by Name function has no counterpart.
The “Search Near” page appears when you choose the second button from the left on the Where To page. This enables you to select the place from which you wish to conduct your search. You may choose your present location, a recent discovery, a waypoint, or “A Map Point,” which allows you to place the pin on the map anywhere.
Having a keypad to input letters and numbers is a massive plus for the touch screen. This is considerably simpler to operate than the 60CSx and Colorado’s buttons or Rock ‘n Roller.
Oregon, like Colorado, has embraced paperless geocaching. You may import geocaching.com Pocket Query files, which include detailed information about the geocaches you’ve chosen. You may utilize Field Notes and mark caches as discovered. Our Colorado review delves further into the state’s characteristics, and there’s also a geocaching FAQ for Oregon.
How to Connect to a Computer
Oregon enters USB mass storage mode when you connect it to your computer via USB connection. Internal memory and SD cards show as drive letters on your computer (e.g., they might be E:\ and F:\ drives). The Garmin Trip and Waypoint Manager software identifies these disks as a GPS and transfers the waypoints and tracks to and from the device as standard.
The GPS converts the tracks and waypoints that it saves internally into GPX files that you may access on the drive letters generated when you connect to the computer. This procedure may take a long time if you have an extensive track log – too long if you’re in a hurry.
When you remove Oregon from the computer, it shuts down and reset to regain GPS functionality – not ideal.
The Oregon USB interface may also be switched to Spanner mode, which allows for real-time tracking via the USB interface but does not seem to allow for the transmission of waypoints and tracks. I’ve discovered that spanner mode isn’t always reliable. Spanner isn’t compatible with Windows Vista.
The 60CSx handles saved or archived tracklogs better than the 60CSx. There are 10,000 points in the tracklog. When this limit is reached, rather than being overwritten, the first 2000 points in the log are archived automatically. It is possible to store up to 200 tracklogs. Even better, the archived log saves all of the track points. When you keep track of other Garmin handhelds, the timestamps are lost, and the number of points on the way is decreased. Both the timestamps and all of the track points are saved on Oregon.
On the Negative Side
There was a list of characteristics that the 60CSx featured that Colorado didn’t have in our Colorado study. Oregon solves most of these flaws while also adding some of its own: Oregon’s most serious flaw is its screen. The 300 screen’s matt surface makes it less visible than the glossy displays of the 60CSx and Colorado, but it is still viewable. The 550 screen is more polished than the 300, which is an upgrade. A screen protector is suggested since the touchscreen is much too easy to scratch. ClearTouch has shown to be effective for us.
The MapSource software was not included in the package. Basecamp and RoadTrip, on the other hand, are free to download.
The Oregon GPS devices are excellent. The touchscreen interface is straightforward to use. While the 60CSx lacks specific capabilities, such as the easiest-to-see screen in solid light, the Oregon firmware, high-resolution screen, and touchscreen are alluring, particularly if you geocache. The on-screen keyboard will save you a lot of time if you set a lot of waypoints or conduct many searches. The device is also tiny due to the smooth rounded casing and the lack of an external antenna.
The Oregon 550 is approximately $140 more expensive than the Oregon 300, but it has a camera, a 3-axis compass, rechargeable batteries, and a charger. In our workplace, Oregon is the most often used GPS.