Garmin Geko 301 GPS device

The Geko line of GPS devices has gained popularity for their small size, ease of use and relatively feature-rich capabilities. The Geko 301 — the top-end model in a line of three — measures a scant 1.9 × 3.9 x .96 inches and weighs 3.4 ounces, including its two AAA batteries. Basic features include, a digital compass, an altimeter all standard GPS navigational tools and several built-in GPS games.

Controlling the Geko 301 can be performed easily with one hand, as there are just five buttons to access all features. The menu system is based on a series of menu pages and submenus that give access to the functions. Learning the ins and outs is fairly intuitive. I played with the device for a half-hour before looking at the manual and had the basics figured out.

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Testing the device on long treks into the woods, I was happy with the device’s performance. The Geko 301 captures trip data automatically — including distance traveled, maximum speed, average speed and altitude gained and lost — and stores the information on the device for later viewing. You can also download the data to a computer at home and enter it into a variety of software programs for analysis.

Latitudinal and longitudinal information can be viewed at any time. The device also creates a virtual map of your route on the Geko’s small monochrome display. Waypoints can be established anywhere to mark a location; the device will even store symbolized waypoints to let you mark fishing holes or camps with small graphics that appear on the stored GPS routes.

The digital compass feature is nice, as you can get all directional information off one device. It works fine most of the time, but I’ve had trouble with digital compasses in the past and thus never head into the woods without an old-fashioned magnetic compass as well. The Geko 301’s altimeter is also handy, especially in the mountains where elevation change is dramatic. Because the altimeter is based on barometric pressure readings, the Geko 301 has a built-in 12-hour pressure-trend tool for gauging changing weather conditions.

Overall, the Geko 301 is a great GPS device for beginners or seasoned explorers that need just the basic functions. It does not come with street or city maps loaded in like some GPS models, but all the necessary navigational tools are included to get you through the woods and back home again.

Price: $246
Contact: Garmin International Inc., 1-800-800-1020, http://www.garmin.com.

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