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Garmin's handy GPS navigators


June 22, 2009

The feature rich 401

The feature rich 401

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Whether you're just out for a leisurely stroll, out on the piste or on patrol in some remote tundra, Garmin's new personal navigation systems promise to make sure you know everything you need to know to get where you want to be. The Foretrex 401 and Foretrex 301 GPS navigators don't get lost thanks to new technology that allows them to lock on and keep track of positioning satellites even in the most testing of conditions, making these go-anywhere, do-anything, tough, waterproof personal travel gadgets much more than just big wristwatches.

More often than not when you're out and about you need to stay focused on what you're doing and not be stopping every 5 seconds to check your location on a map. Strapping a Foretrex to your wrist will help "keep your hands free and your focus on the path ahead, all while ensuring you make it to your destination as easily as possible," according to Garmin VP Dan Bartel. "Whether you're on a leisurely hike or in the toughest conditions imaginable, you need navigation that's simple to use and easy to access."

Packed with features

Both models are feature heavy with an impressive battery life. They offer a WAAS-enabled GPS receiver with Hotfix - some clever tech that quickly locks onto and maintains the satellite signal, even in areas where reception is poor such as heavy tree cover or deep canyons. The 3.6cm by 2.3cm LCD screen (100 x 64 pixels) will clearly show you the route ahead and the route back to the beginning of your journey using a feature called Trackback. You'll be able to store routes, record waypoints and even use a breadcrumb trail to get back to important landmarks on your route (or even just back to your tent). Both devices feature a dual position display mode so you can easily see where you are in relation to your objective or where you started from. There's a trip computer and a compass and as if that's not enough, even more useful information can be loaded in via a USB connection to your desktop or laptop.

Additional features such as a barometric altimeter and wireless capabilities have been added to the 401 at the expense of some battery life, the claimed battery life of the 301 being 18 hours on 2 AAA batteries with the 401 notching up a slightly lower 17 hours. Extended use won't wear you down either as the devices weight in at an ever so slight 3 ounces (87 grams). However, what these units don't have is touchscreen capabilities or a color screen - that might seem a bit picky given the huge amount of tech at your fingertips but such things are now commonplace, even in other Garmin products.

Availability and pricing

The Foretrex 301 carries a suggested retail price of USD$199.99, with the extras on the 401 making it a little more expensive at USD$249.99. Check out Garmin's website for dealer information.

About the Author
Paul Ridden While Paul is loath to reveal his age, he will admit to cutting his IT teeth on a TRS-80 (although he won't say which version). An obsessive fascination with computer technology blossomed from hobby into career before the desire for sunnier climes saw him wave a fond farewell to his native Blighty in favor of Bordeaux, France. He's now a dedicated newshound pursuing the latest bleeding edge tech for Gizmag. All articles by Paul Ridden
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