On The Bench: Magellan eXplorist GC GPS Receiver

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.

  • letsgetsteve
    reminds me of an episode of numbers.... sounds like it might be cool though. i might just have to give it a try.
  • silentq
    Title of the article tells me there will be comparison charts, graphs, stats etc.. "on the bench"... the article, however, offers none of those. Instead we get a vague personal point of view. Same as the Corsair's headset "review". Not impressed Tom, not impressed.
  • blackened144
    My parents have been caching for a few years now.. They have 1300+ finds in 12 states and 5 countries.. Im taking them to the airport this morning and they are flying to Germany.. My sister just had her first baby, but they are going to take a few days to drive around Europe again and do some more caching.. I think they are going to Belgium and Luxembourg this time and I think they are going back to the Netherlands and France so they can get 5 in each country..
  • f-14
    i am really more interested in about why Nvidia 400 series video cards are still being bottlenecked at below 256bit bus speed, also talk to AMD about what their take on bus speed below Nvidia's 320/448/512 bit restriction is doing for their products?

    inquiring Tom's readers want to know
  • squallypie
    @ f-14, are we reading an article of graphics cards ? :P

    well anyways, tommy, why arent we seeing this month's best card for the money article?
  • Onus
    Interesting. My sister and her family have a lot of fun doing this. I will send this to them.
  • vvhocare5
    Cmon squally - not another best card for the money article - doesnt anyone ever buy one and move on?

    Ummm is this a geo-caching recruiting article or some sort of comparison? I dont think this really belongs on TH. Now maybe if there was a FPS comparison of a 3d world simulation of geocaching - that might be interesting....

  • g00fysmiley
    lil odd and out of left field.. but interesting, sounds like a fun hobby. i'm glad i read it and learned about geocaching, muight try to pick one up and set a few caches around a few historical landmarks in my area to teach people about the many old forts and parks
  • squallypie
    vvhocare, sometimes its just nice to know which card is at the top right now. i've got a new card recently so im not ready buy another one within some time soon.

    builders on the other hand build computers all the time so they can choose the best card depending on the budget a customer has offered them.

  • Proximon
    This sounds like a great idea. I'm sold.