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The Different Types of Handheld GPS Devices

Updated on March 19, 2018

Portable GPS HandHeld Systems

If you think that GPS devices can only be used in vehicles, you’re in for a big surprise.  Many people these days use hand held GPS units to help them get around.  These portable navigational devices are often used by outdoor enthusiasts including backpackers, cross-country skiers, bikers and geocachers.  With these pocket-sized devices, you will be able to find your way to your destination and back to where you came from.  You’ll also be able to keep track of where you are.

Types of Hand Held GPS Devices

Handheld GPS devices can be classified into two types.  One type is a dedicated GPS receiver.  This device can show you where you are, the direction you are traveling, how long it will take to reach your destination, etc.  The Magellan Triton is a good example of this type of hand held device.

The other type of hand held GPS device is an add-on that is attached to a PDA.  When plugged to a PDA, it allows the PDA to function as a GPS.  This type of device can be bulky and inconvenient for most people.

GPS Satellite
GPS Satellite

Getting a Satellite Signal

If you are thinking of buying a hand held GPS, you must consider where and how you intend to use it.  Keep in mind that getting a signal from a satellite is dependent on line of sight.  If you will be using the device in mountainous areas, deep canyons, dense forests or even skyscrapers in a city, you may not be able to get a good signal.  Normally there are enough satellites overhead but it is always best to keep this possibility in mind.

Features and Accessories

When considering a hand held GPS unit you will also want to find out what add-ons and accessories come with that particular model. You should be able to download and update your maps easily. Some handheld devices allow you to interface your GPS with your computer or laptop. Choose a handheld GPS device based on your needs so that the system will work best for you.

Popular Hand-held GPS Devices

The Garmin eTrex Legend HCX GPS Receiver is a handheld GPS navigator with high sensitivity even in locations with heavy cover. Its micro-SD card is preloaded with MapSource data than can be used for land and sea excursions. The MapSource card also comes with detailed street maps.

Hikers, climbers and geocachers will love the Garmin GPSMap 60CSx. The receiver of this handheld GPS is sensitive enough to get a signal even under a dense tree cover. It is accurate within a 10-meter distance of the given location. It can provide turn-by-turn routing, Sun and Moon calculation, etc. The Gramin GPSMap has a tough exterior and is waterproof.

If you love to backpack or ski cross-country don’t leave home without your Garmin Oregon 450t. This handheld GPS comes with maps of the USA and Europe. It also comes with an altimeter and electronic compass. You can save 200 routes, 200 tracks and up to 1,000 waypoints on this device. A large collection of state park maps, national forest maps, trails, etc. is available for the Garmin Oregon 450t.

Preview of Garmin Oregon 450, Oregon 450t and Oregon 550

Comparison & Review of Different Garmin Handheld GPS Systems


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