Garmin Colorado 400t, 400c, 400i, 300 Handheld GPS: REVIEW

Garmin Colorado 400t Handheld GPS Unit with U.S. Topographic Preloaded Maps

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The past few years have seen dramatic advances in the GPS units we use in our cars, with intuitive, user-friendly interfaces and an ever-growing number of features. Though handheld units have certainly benefited from new, more sensitive GPS chips and other advances deep in their electronics, they haven’t realized the same sort of game-changing advances as their vehicle-based cousins…until now. Garmin’s Colorados series ushers in the next generation of handheld GPS units, offering a rich feature set while incorporating the ease of use you’ve grown accustomed to in the car, within a rugged, waterproof shell. Outside Magazine sums it up, "The Garmin Colorado 400t was born for serious backcountry time, and you won’t find a more user-friendly or durable handheld GPS" while About.com concludes that the "400t lives up to its promise of being a next-generation handheld GPS."

 


Ratings Summary
Includes ratings for Garmin Colorado 400t, 400c, 400i, 300
Colorado 400t
Owner Reviews
Colorado 400c
Owner Reviews
Colorado 400i
Owner Reviews
Colorado 300
Owner Reviews
Our Rating: 4 Stars

Very Best for Geocaching

Note: The Colorado 300 does not include pre-loaded maps, other than the standard global basemap. The 400 series includes preloaded maps: The 400t includes U.S. topographic maps, the 400i includes maps of coastal and inland (freshwater) rivers and lakes. The 400c includes BlueChart nautical charts for U.S. coastal waters and the Bahamas.

Like the 5-star rated Garmin 60csx, the Colorado is versatile, serving the mariner, inland fisherman, or mountaineer, and even providing turn-by-turn directions on the way home in the car.

What you’ll notice immediately is the Colorado’s "Rock ‘n Roller" wheel, which has drawn comparisons to iPods clickwheel. Its operation is easy and intuitive and allows you to operate the unit with one hand. You can use the wheel to pan and zoom maps or make your way through the menu system. Intuitively, perhaps because of iPod’s success with the clickwheel, the enter button is positioned in the center of the wheel. Wired Magazine sums up the Colorado’s design as, "Unbeatable form factor."

Once you wheel yourself to the menu system, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find it easy to navigate, simple and intuitive, a welcome change to the oft-dense, confusing and tedious menus of far too many handhelds. (See videos below for a tour of the key menu options.)

Pro
Con

Simple, elegant, intuitive interface; easy one-hand operation

Versatile with rich feature set, including new 3D view

Best yet for geocaching

 

Expensive

Early versions of firmware were buggy

Included software not Mac-compatible

 

Other next-generation features include the new 3D view on a large and very rreadable color screen. Enter 3D mode to go beyond the standard map view from above. Use the pan and zoom features to change your perspective and see the terrain you’re navigating from different angles. This can be very helpful to navigation, as not all of us can easily visualize terrain as drawn on topo maps.

The Colorado is versatile, and allows you to customize up to five profiles — automotive, marine, recreation, fitness or "paperless" geocaching (see below). making the most beneficial features for each activity the easiest to access through quick shortcuts. In addition, you can further customize your Colorado with the purchase of additional maps on SD card, including topo, marine and road maps.

Garmin Colorado is "Geocaching-Ready"

The Garmin Colorado takes the popular sport of geocaching seriously and sets a new standard in providing integrated geocaching features. Many of the most favorable owner reviews of the Garmin Colorado are from geocachers — many of whom have upgraded from old handhelds to the Colorado — who have delighted in the advance of geocaching features this unit offers. In addition to a geocaching mode that customizes the unit’s operation toward finding that hidden cache, the Colorado offers so-called "paperless" geocaching. No need to scribble latitude/longitude coordinates of caches on scraps of paper. With the Colorado, you can simply download them from geocaching.com or any other source using the GPX standard. The unit’s built-in barometric altimeter provides you with altitude information while the built-in electronic compass is essential for guiding you when you’re moving very slowly or standing still. Garmin succeeds in providing a geocaching powertool that does it all — and one-handed, to boot. The Colorado is also equipped with features for playing the new Wherigo location based-adventures and games.

Whatever your sport, if more than one of you are carrying a Colorado you can share information wirelessly, including waypoints, routes, tracks, and geocache information.

Garmin has also added a wireless feature to the Colorado which allows it to communicate with your heart rate monitor.

In our monitoring of owner reviews, we’ve noted that early versions of Garmin’s firmware was buggy, causing the unit to lock up at times. Subsequent firmware releases (user-updatable via your connected PC) have largely addressed this issue, however.

The Colorado looks and feels rugged.The unit has a tough, rubberized and metal exterior, is waterproof (IPX7) though it does not float. Garmin has rounded out the Colorado with the latest-generation of sensitive GPS chips and long battery life. You can preload waypoints using the included software or download your trackpoints after the fact. The included software is not Mac-compatible, however (though it will run in Parallels or BootCamp). [Review Date: 14 July 2008 © 2008 Rated4Stars.com]

 

 


 

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VIDEO: Introducing the Garmin Colorado

 

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VIDEO: Garmin Colorado Demo

Key Features at a Glance
Feature
Colorado 400t
Colorado 400c
Colorado 400i
Colorado 300
Pre-Loaded/ Included Maps

U.S. topographic maps; worldwide base map

BlueChart® g2 U.S. coastal waters maps (limited capability); worldwide base map

U.S. inland lakes maps; worldwide base map

Worldwide base map only
Next-Generation GPS Chip Set?
Geocaching Mode?

"Paperless"

"Paperless"

"Paperless"

"Paperless"
Card Slot?

SD Card

SD Card

SD Card

SD Card
Electronic Compass?
Barometric Altimeter?
Waterproof?
Floats?
# Waypoints/ Favorites
1,000
1,000
1,000
1,000
# Routes
50
50
50
50
Track Log Capacity
10,000 points, 20 saved tracks
10,000 points, 20 saved tracks
10,000 points, 20 saved tracks
10,000 points, 20 saved tracks
Other Features:

3D View

Wireless data transfer to other Colorado units

User profiles

3D View

Wireless data transfer to other Colorado units

User profiles

3D View

Wireless data transfer to other Colorado units

User profiles

3D View

Wireless data transfer to other Colorado units

User profiles

 

 

Accessories & Related Products

 


Additional Specifications
Weight 7.3 oz (206.9 g) with batteries
Dimensions 2.4" x 5.5" x 1.4" (6.0 x 13.9 x 3.5 cm)
Battery 2 AA batteries (not included); NiMH or Lithium recommended; battery life 15 hours
Display 1.53"W x 2.55"H (3.8 x 6.3 cm); 3" diag (7.6 cm); resolution 240 x 400 pixels
Chipset Garmin high-sensitivity GPS receiver
In the Box Colorado handheld GPS, preloaded U.S. topographic maps (400t only), BlueChart® g2 (limited capability) U.S. coastal waters maps (400c only), U.S. inland lakes maps (400i only), Worldwide basemap with shaded relief, carabiner clip,USB cable, MapSource Trip & Waypoint Manager, Owner’s manual, Quick start guide
Warranty One Year Limited Warranty
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