Features February 1, 2005 Issue

Garmin GPS 60

Garmin's GPS 60 measures just 6.1 x 2.4 x 1.3 inches and weighs only 5.4 oz. The unit is WAAS capable and operates on two AA batteries, with an alternative power cable available, but no external antenna. It can connect to a PC via USB or serial ports, and has an 0183 NEMA interface. It has capacity for 500 waypoints, with up to 50 routes and receives on 12 channels. It's also waterproof (up to three feet for 30 minutes), and lists for $193.

When we published our most recent review of handheld GPS units (see PS Oct. 15, 2004), we didn't include the new GPS 60 from Garmin even though we had tested it for that article. (The company asked that we withhold our findings until that unit was formally introduced to the market this winter.) Now, the GPS 60 is on the shelves and ready for action.

This new unit is a monochrome version of Garmin's recently released 60C. (The unit we tested was actually a prototype 60 in a 60C case.) Its screen occupies the upper two-thirds of the face with eight pushbuttons and a rocker switch below. The buttons on the case front are clearly marked for function. The off/on button resides on the top of the unit adjacent to the antenna. We found it awkward to hold and operate the Garmin 60 with one hand mainly because of the small sized buttons and their location near the bottom of the case.

The GPS 60 utilizes the latest version of Garmin's handheld GPS software and interfaces with the user through five main pages. The Satellite page displays tracked satellite location and signal strength, battery status, and present position. Three navigational pages follow with each press of the Page button. First comes the Trip Computer page displaying either three or eight user-changeable data boxes. Next comes the Map page. You can display a full-page map or add up to four data boxes, again all user-selectable. The last of the navigational pages is the Compass page; half the screen is used by a large compass rose and the other half by either three or four data boxes. The user can select the data to be displayed in the boxes and either degrees or cardinal headings for the compass. The final page in the list is the Menu page, it leads you to one of 16 other lists or sub-menus including Tracks, Routes, Setup, Calendar, Calculator, and others. Unlike the older Garmin 76, the 60 does not contain any tide tables or buoy data.

The Garmin 60 screen is only slightly smaller than the Garmin 76, measuring 2.6 inches on the diagonal. Resolution is high at 160 by 240 pixels, making the edges of small fonts and circles smooth. We found the night lighting on the Garmin 60 to be the most sophisticated of any handheld unit we've tested. It has five levels of brightness for both the screen and pushbutton backlighting. Daylight viewability was very good as well, achieving an Excellent rating for Display.

Access to the battery compartment, data port, external antenna jack, and USB port is located on the rear of the case.

Bottom Line: An excellent screen, with decent software, but has small pushbuttons in a poor location for singlehand operation.

Contact - Garmin, Inc., 800/800-1020, www.garmin.com.

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