Using Magellan's eXplorist GC
The first test I conducted was a comparison of how easily I could load a query generated by geocaching.com. With a Premium membership ($3 per month or $30 per year), you can run up to two queries every 24 hours. Generating your own query lets you specify a location, such as your home address or hotel. I generally select the 200 geocaches closest to my location that are “Active” and “I have not found.” The query produces a “GPX”-type file for the GPS unit to read.
In this test, the Magellan eXplorist scores a home run. When you plug the supplied USB cable into your computer, the GPS is recognized as a drive. You simply add your “GPX” file to the “Geocache” folder and you are done. With my Garmin, I use software to interpret the file and upload the geocaches to the the GPS.
The second test was to simply gauge ease of use and evaluate the GPS' performance. When I left my car, I started walking as I turned the unit on. I was about 1500 feet (.3 miles) from the nearest geocache. Using the thumb mouse button, it took three clicks to select that geocache, read the clues, and start following the green line to the cache. Out of the box, I was impressed with the GPS' rugged carrying case, the easy attachment bar for a lanyard, and the quality of Magellan's color display. This unit will stand up to kids dropping it and adults tossing it during the course of normal hiking activities.
My next test was to either dispel or prove information I had read on geocaching forums over the years comparing the Magellan and Garmin units. Purportedly, these two companies calculate location based on satellite information in different enough ways to cause about 30 feet of variability.
The theory is that if a person were to hide a geocache with a Magellan unit, people using Garmin units would be 30 feet off when locating the same geocache. I compared 10 of the 30 geocaches I located with both units and did not see any difference in the accuracy or location of my finds.
In comparing Garmin's product to Magellan's, both units are about the same size. When each GPS is powered up, it takes about 15 seconds to load the software and acquire enough satellite information to give a position. The Magellan, on average, takes three more seconds to load, which does not seem significant. While geocaching at Huntington Lake, CA in a heavy forest area, the Magellan was unable to acquire enough satellite information to establish a position. The Garmin competitor took almost a minute to function, but it did work. I have to surmise that the GPS receiver in the Garmin product has a higher-sensitivity receiver. Outside of the forest area, there were no other performance issues with the Magellan GPS.
This Magellan unit came with two Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA batteries. I have used these batteries before, mainly because they are lightweight. I can usually expect to get a week of use per set in my Garmin. After finding 30 geocaches with the Magellan eXplorist, the battery meter in the display began showing no bars, yet the unit continued to work for a while longer. This seems to boast above-average power management characteristics. I would estimate it uses 50-75% less power than the Garmin. This feature will greatly reduce the total cost of ownership for anyone who makes frequent use of the GPS.