The 62S is my third GPS, purchased April 2011. With it, I purchased the MapSource City Navigator DVDs for NorthAmerica/Mexico (2011.1 NT) and Europe (2012.NT), a DaneElec 4 GB microSD card, and a Colorado Series Bike Mount (#11023). I purchased the 62S & mount from DigitalOasis & the card plus Software from GPScity. Both companies shipped promptly. The 62S has v2.8 software.
My previous two GPSs are the GPSmap76 (purchased 2001) and the Edge 305 bike GPS (purchased 2009). I have used the 76S successfully with Bluechart software for kayaking in the Pacific NW, and with Garmin MetroGuide 2007 for biking around WA State. I give the 76S a 4/5 rating - a great device, which has saved me many times out in the fog. The 305 I give only 3/5 rating - too expensive for what it is (essentially a fancy bike computer, without maps). Also, the 305 suffers from vibration and will turn off when my bike hits a bump.
I am an Electrical Engineer who writes control software for a living. I have been using the 62S for about 3 months - two months while biking around Seattle, and one month during a trip with my wife to Europe. It has worked OK, and has helped us drive about 1000 miles around Sweden, Norway and S. England. However, I have encountered some frustrations with it and the CN software. Overall, I rate the 62S and CN software 3.5/5 - good, but could be improved. I haven't used other manufacturer's GPSs so maybe this is as good as it gets right now. I have a number of comments about the CN software and the 62S user interface, in the hope that these may be improved in time. I am not an expert in using the 62S so perhaps some criticisms are invalid. In that case, I hope a reader can update me.
Things I Like: =============
1. The 62S has a more sensitive antenna than either the 305 or 76. The 62S will lock onto satellites inside a moving car (with the device on the passenger's seat or between the driver's legs), in a train (near Amsterdam), in a tram (in Prague), in an airplane (window seat), and inside my home in Seattle (within 5 ft or so of a window). Sitting in an airplane window seat en route from Iceland to Seattle, I could follow our position on the GPS map, and read the airplane's speed. Altitude was invalid, of course, as this depends on barometric pressure and the cabin was pressurized. Sitting in the passenger seat or our rental car, my Wife used the 62S successfully to navigate about 1000 miles through Norway, Sweden and S. England. When out walking, one can keep the 62S in one's pocket with the antenna facing down and it will log one's track and distance covered quite accurately.
When I bike under a thick canopy of trees (e.g. Interlaken Blvd, Seattle), the 76 loses position and stops tracking. The 305 is better but sometimes stops tracking too. The 62S keeps tracking but its speed sometimes goes off 2-5 mph (compared with my bike speedometer). Its overall distance logged seems unaffected, but sometimes its track goes off map under these circumstances- perhaps by 50- 100ft.
2. Quick to find Satellites. Once the 62S has been used in or near your current location, it takes about 45 sec from pressing the power on button until it locks onto the satellites and the blinking question mark on the position arrowhead goes away. However, the first time it is powered up in a radically different area (e.g. in a new country or city), it must be allowed several minutes (sometimes 5) to search for the satellites. By comparison the 76S and 305 take about the same time in a new location but 2-3 times longer in a known location.
3. The large white "Change of Direction Pending" arrow is large and clear. This appears when one is navigating a route and a possible turn is coming up, for example a traffic circle, or L/R turn. Usually, this arrow is absent when one is following a road without any turns. Sometimes it appears at a bend in the road which is obvious and shouldn't need the white arrow, but no matter. The device also emits a discreet but audible beeping when a turn is approaching. Useful on a long boring road when one may not be watching the GPS. (There are no spoken directions to alert one, only the beeping and a text direction message at the top of the map).
4. The USB transfer rate is fast. Using USB2.0, it takes only a second or so to upload 20 routes and 50 waypoints to/ from the device and one's PC.
5. It has a large memory. I wasn't able to fill the native RAM plus 4 GB SD card. I downloaded all the maps of Western Europe and Scandinavia, or those of WA State, and created perhaps 20 routes, 50 waypoints, and 10- 20 tracks, some lasting 4-5 hrs. I was also able to upload tracks and routes made with/ for my 305 and 76. Some were 4-6 hr long bike rides- no problem. In contrast, the 76 and 305 would often run out or memory.
6. Batteries last a long time, and are quick to change. It uses 2 x AA batteries. I use the Enerloop 2000 mAh. A pair lasts about 10- 12 hr. The battery level indicator shows full until about 2-3 hr are left, then drops off rapidly. If the batteries die, one's current data is retained. A nice feature is that the batteries fit tightly, so they don't lose contact when biking on rough roads. In contrast, the 76's two AA batteries don't fit as well, and will vibrate loose. The 305 has an internal battery which also suffers from vibration and will turn off unexpectedly.
7. The heart rate monitor works well. One needs a sensor (not supplied). I use the HRM1 chest strap sensor, which I purchased many years ago with my 305. Works reliably most of the time on my bike. Sometimes one needs to moisten the two sensor pads on either side of the battery area. I also have two Timex heart rate sensors - the TG951 and TG971, each with chest straps. The Garmin works best, followed by the 951 then the 971 (which sometimes needs frequent sensor moistening, or it loses its signal). The Garmin, however, is averaged over a longer period - perhaps 7 sec - vs. only 2-3 for the Timex units. Hence, the Garmin sometimes does not show a short-duration peak heart rate. For me, this isn't an issue.
8. The City Navigator 2012 NT Europe maps were more accurate than I expected. We used these in and around Amsterdam, in Prague, In Stockholm, for a 10 day/ 800 mile driving tour of Sweden and Norway, and for 200 miles driving around southern England. Only once did it make a grievous mistake - en route from Hamar Norway to Lillehammer it told us to enter the freeway at an exit ramp - no entry route existed at that location. Otherwise, it gave us good directions. It was excellent driving in Stockholm and around Heathrow airport, and walking in Prague. It lacks the detailed database of Points of Interest (POIs) that one finds in Google Maps, but then Gmaps is internet-based and therefore has more space available. In some places, e.g. Prague, it lacks some walking/bike routes (which is my main gripe with the City Navigator NorthAmerica 2011- see comments later on). In other places, e.g. Stockholm, it showed the walking routes from Slussen to Mosebacke, and routed me along these when requested.
9. One can install the City Navigator NorthAmerica software on at least 2 PCs. I have done this on my laptop (W7) and on my desktop (WXP). Of course, both copies are tied to the same GPS.
Things which could be Improved: =============
1. City Navigator North America 2011 (CNNA) lacks many important Walking/Bike trails. For example, it lacks the Burke-Gilman trail (BGT) in Seattle, perhaps the most used and well known of all bike/walk trails in the city. It also, for example, lacks the lesser known Chief Sealth trail in S. Seattle. This makes it hard to plot a bike route between two waypoints. For example, say one wants to bike from Gasworks Park Seattle to Marymoor Park, Redmond. The BGT and Sammamish River Trail will take one the whole way there, about 25 miles, without the need to ride on a regular road. If one asks the CNNA software to plot a route between these two points for a bike, the map will route one on the regular roads used by cars. Some of these (e.g. Lake City Way) are dangerous for bikers. Google Maps (GMaps), on the other hand, is quite good about bike trails and will offer one several options, including such trails if these exist. (It proposes the correct bike route, using the BGT / SRT, for the example above).
How, then does one create a bike route using CNNA? I haven't found an easy way to do this. It would be great if one could export a Gmaps route to the Garmin. I have been able to export a single waypoint from Gmaps to the 62S, but not the entire route. Can one do this? Otherwise, I find myself plotting the route in Gmaps, and then laboriously recreating this, point by point in CNNA, using the create route tool. Of course, if one has a track logged previously, with a Garmin GPS, one can use this to create a route, or simply follow the track.
2. Lack of Contrast of Map Display. The map background appears as a dull green. White would be much clearer. (This is used on the 76). Under setup/ display, the background color setting has no effect on the green map background.
3. Waypoints and Routes sent to the 62S are duplicated if these already exist in the device. For example, assume one has created a route or two with waypoints and has sent these, plus the maps, to the GPS. Then one adds another route to the CN map on the PC, saves this and exports it and its waypoints to the 62S. The new route and waypoints will be sent, plus all the original ones, which will now appear as duplicate entries on the 62S. The only way I have found to avoid this is to deleted all existing routes and waypoints in the 62S, connect it back up to the PC, and then re-export the whole set. This can become tedious on an extended trip, when one is adding new routes and waypoints on daily basis. If one doesn't do this, one can end up with many duplicates of each waypoint and route, which gets messy quickly. (The routes still work, however).
4. Importing Data from the 62S to the CN software is clumsy. It seems one cannot import waypoints or routes created manually on the GPS. Neither can one import saved tracks (only the current (unsaved) track). If one tries this using the CN software, it responds that none were found. However, one can copy saved tracks using Windows Explorer. The 62S appears in the Explorer tree as "GARMIN". Look under the folder \Garmin\GPX, and copy the desired .gpx files to a location on the PC. These can then be opened using CN. Not sure if one can import waypoints and routes this way. Waypoint import would be useful - e.g. if one exports from Google maps directly to the 62S, then wishes to import these back into CN.
5. Route Preferences are global in scope, instead of applying to each route, and are not copied from the CN software to the 62S. For example, assume one wishes to create a walking route. In CN, one goes to Edit\Preferences\Routing and selects "Bicycle" and "Use Direct Routes" under the Routing options. One also sets other options if desired. One then creates and saves the route. Assume one then creates and saves another route, this time for a car. First one must go in and change the preferences to "Car" and "Use Auto Routing". The route will now follow known roads. This change in preferences wont affect the first (bike) route provided one doesn't recalculate the route. So far so good. Assume one then sends these routes to the GPS, which has its route preferences set for "Car" and Lock on Road= True. (The CN settings are not sent to the 62S). If one then tries to navigate the first (bike) route, it will be different from the CN original - the 62S will look for and follow the nearest roads. One must go into Main Menu/ Setup/Routing and change over to "Bicycle" and "Lock on Road" = No. Assume one does this, and the navigates the route. If one then wishes to navigate the second (car ) route, one must go back into Setup and change the options to suit. This can get tedious, especially if some routes have "Avoid Tolls" or "On Road for Time" instead of "On Road for Distance". Route settings should be unique for each route.
6. The Next Page ("Page") and Prev Page ("Quit") buttons should be located opposite each other, as are the In and Out buttons. The Quit button is at the bottom left, while the Page button is near the top right. Hence one often hits the wrong button when navigating pages. (The "Find" button is opposite the "Page button - one often presses this by mistake if navigating pages with one hand). Also, why use Page and Quit? Not very intuitive. What about "Next" and "Prev"?
7. The altimeter is not very accurate. If I go to the ocean and calibrate this, then go on a bike ride for 3 hours and return to the ocean, it may show -30 ft. This is on a clear day (no change in weather pattern). On successive days the error may be as much as 50-75 ft. The 305 also has a barometric altimeter (without a calibrate feature), but seems to exhibit less variation. Sometimes the 62S and 305 will differ by 100 ft at the same point. Interestingly, the 62S altimeter seems quite repeatable over a short time period of say 30 min. I performed the following test in Prague. There are about 180 steps leading from Sinkulova Street up to Vysehrad castle (great views!). One morning, I went up and down 5 times in about 30 minutes, measuring the total ascent and descent each time. Average was 106 ft ascent/ 104 ft descent, with a scatter of +/- 2 ft, which is very good.
8. Turn instructions are sometimes wrong. E.g. sometimes it says "Go North" when it means "Go South". The white direction indicator was always correct, however.
9. One cant display Total Elevation Gain on the Trip Computer or Map display. To see this, one must change to the Elevation Plot. In contrast, on can display this on the 305's trip computer.
10. The bike mount (#1102 Colorado Series - $10) is unreliable, and one can lose the GPS unless one has a safety strap attached between its rear attachment point and one's bike. The problem is the plastic clip which snaps into a recess at the bottom rear of the 62S. This clip doesn't always seat properly, which allows the 62S to slide forward and out. In contrast, the bike mount for the 76 is more robust and has a sliding lock.
11. The Elevation Plot scale is inaccurate, so the absolute value of the graph is not useful.