Garmin eTrex Legend HCx

For those that like to venture into the wilderness or take to the water, GPS devices have almost become must-have tools. While only a fool would trust an electronic device to the exclusion of a compass and map, modern GPS electronics are reliable and convenient for supplementing your navigational tools. One such GPS unit is the hand held Garmin eTrex Legend HCx, a follow-on model to the original eTrex Legend.

The Legend HCx varies from the previous Legend model and the newer Legend H in that it has a 256-color display and lacks any on-board memory. While the original Legend had 8 MB of on-board memory and the Legend H has 24 MB, the HCx relies on the use of a microSD card slot for memory. Garmin conveniently offers additonal map software for their GPS devices on microSD cards to that you can utilize the necessary maps for your needs. Due to the microSD slot, I don't feel that the lack of on-board memory is a detriment.

Incredibly, Garmin designed the HCx to be even smaller than the original Legend at 2.2"x4.2"x1.2" overall. Unfortunately, the display is smaller but a larger screen would mean less battery life. The display is 1.3"x1.7" with a resolution of 176x220 pixels.

For those worried about viewing the color display in bright conditions, the display on the HCx is designed to be read in any sunlight. I've encountered no problems reading the display in even the brightest sunlight.

Unlike the original Legend, which was blue, the HCx comes only in gray. While it may not be the first color choice for everyone, the HCx's shade of gray is subdued enough not to stand out in the woods, which is important for hunters.

The Legend HCx is a lightweight 5.5 ounces meaning that you probably won't notice it in your pocket or in it's pouch until you need it.

One of the best features of the HCx is automatic routing, which means that it will give you turn by turn directions to a waypoint. For those of you that may want to use the HCx as a vehicle navigational tool, it can do double duty with the addition of Garmin's street map software.

Another positive feature of the HCx is wide area augmentation system (WAAS). WAAS is a long way of saying that the GPS is exceptionally accurate and will pin-point your location to within 3 meters instead of 15 like traditional GPS units. From a user standpoint, the HCx loads your position very quickly so that there is little to no downtime when viewing the GPS on the move.

Due to the environment that the HCx is intended for, it is waterproof. So dunking it in a river or getting it soaked in a monsoon will not damage it. The microSD card slot is located within the waterproof battery compartment so that it is not vulnerable to water. Keep in mind though, the HCx will not float. Therefore, if you drop it into water it sill sink.

The user interface of the HCx is simple and intuitive for anyone familiar with hand held GSP devices. Even if new to hand held GPS devices, you'll pick up the operation of the quickly and easily. The HCx is designed to be used with one hand, keeping the other free for other tasks.

The HCx runs on two AA batteries that keep it running for an impressive 25 hours. In daily use, I've found that the batteries typically last for a month or so. That's more than acceptable to me given the high-quality color screen. A rechargeable battery kit is available from Garmin but I haven't used it or seen a need for it. For those interested, it's $25.

Included with the HCx is a user manual, quick reference guide, USB cable, wrist lanyard, and mapping software.

A variety of accessories are available for the HCx. Some of those accessories include mounts for your vehicle, boat, or bicycle, a vehicle charging cable, multiple carrying cases and covers, as well as external spare parts such as the battery cover.

I would definitely recommend putting a screen protector on the GPS to protect it from getting scratched or damaged in storage or use.

After using the HCx for a while, I feel that it is a great GPS and a useful tool to have in the wilderness. The only complaint that I have is the small display. I would personally prefer a shorter battery life for a larger color display. But that is the only complaint I have and it is minor.

The suggested retail price of the HCx is $249.99 USD from Garmin but is available new in the box for much cheaper from places like eBay (see my link below for HCx's available on eBay right now!).

Overall, the Garmin Legend HCx is a high quality GPS device that is loaded with features for the price. They are durable, reliable units that will keep up with you during your outdoor activities. If you're in the market for a hand held GPS, check one out.

Check out my other GPS reviews!

Find Garmin eTrex Legend HCx's on eBay!

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