Nowadays, Garmin is most famous for their Garmin nuvi products because let’s face it, there are millions of drivers that could all use some convenience in reaching their destination safely. With the GPS technology itself being more affordable than previous years, average consumers can now experience how cool it is to track your position. Even affordable smartphones have GPS functionality baked right in. But if you go back to Garmin’s roots, you will understand how Garmin carved out a niche of hikers that simply want reliable navigation equipment. This niche still exists right now and today’s smartphones and car GPS navigator systems aren’t enough to satisfy their needs. The Garmin Oregon 650t not only caters to hikers but it carries a fusion of technologies that take this niche to the modern era.
The Garmin Oregon series has been around for quite a while but the Garmin Oregon 650t wants to show that it is a fresh new product as it boasts a new design. It still has a 3-inch screen but the overall design looks a bit more modern while retaining the most important aspects. The Garmin Oregon 650t was built to withstand abuse and is completely waterproof.
One of the new things that the Garmin Oregon 650t brings to the table is an improved screen. Multi-touch operation is now a possibility so you can perform pinch gestures for zooming. It is also possible to interact with the touch display while wearing gloves. The Oregon 650t also takes the crown of having the brightest display out of the available Garmin Oregon devices.
The Garmin Oregon 650t features a refined user interface that makes the device feel more like a smartphone. There is this widget on the top of the home screen that shows the date, time, battery life and signal. Below the widget are some icons that resemble apps but they point to Garmin’s main functions. The “Map” and “Where To?” icons resemble the icons found on the Garmin nuvi series. You also get quick access to the compass and trip computer if you want to see various statistics like the elevation. There is also a landscape mode if you prefer another way of viewing the map.
The Oregon 650t also performs more like a smartphone thanks to a faster processor. Performance is pretty speedy and the GPS hardware does an excellent job in tracking your position since this GPS navigator is GLONASS-enabled and WAAS-enabled. One of the secrets behind the fast tracking is the HotFix satellite prediction technology which attempts to predict where the satellites will be in the next couple of days. There is also a built-in 3-axis electronic compass that allows you to get your bearings even if you are not standing still.
Battery life is one of the main reasons why people turn of their smartphone’s GPS function. But since the Garmin Oregon 650t is so optimized as a GPS navigator, battery life doesn’t take a serious toll even with all these improvements. In fact, the Oregon 650t boasts a new battery life boosting feature called the dual battery system which makes this device work with rechargeable NiMH battery packs and AA batteries. The Garmin Oregon 650t already comes with a rechargeable battery so you won’t really need AA batteries unless you are on a lengthy trip and you wish to extend the already impressive 16-hour battery life.
Since the Oregon 650t is the top tier model of the Oregon series, it features both the rear camera and preloaded topographical maps along with 4 GB of internal memory so you can store all that data. The rear camera is pretty rich in specs with an 8-megapixel sensor complete with an LED flash and autofocus. Daylight image quality is exceptional and you can conveniently tag each photo with the location to make it easy to revisit those locations. You can also add a microSD card if you wish to store even more photos.
Unlike the Oregon 650 model, you get full access to the preloaded U.S. TOPO 100K maps database. This is great if you want to search the database for coastlines, lakes and other areas for terrain information. If you need more map packs like the TOPO U.S. 24K maps, you can purchase them as well and easily load them on to the Garmin Oregon 650t. You can even expand the usability of the Oregon 650t beyond hiking by loading map packs like the City Navigator maps or BlueChart g2 data so you can drive or go boating using the same GPS device.
The Garmin Oregon 650t eliminates the need of owning a geocaching GPS device too. It even goes as far as being a better device for geocaching because of this feature that lets you download every cache location on the OpenCaching.com website. Once downloaded, you can simply search for a cache and apply whatever filters you need without an Internet connection.
Owning a Oregon 650t also puts you in an ecosystem where you can easily share geocaches and waypoints through Bluetooth. If you have any cadence sensors or heart rate monitors, you can link them up through ANT+ wireless protocol. The Garmin Oregon 650t can connect to computers as well through the BaseCamp software. This free application lets you plan waypoints on your computer and transfer the data to your GPS device. It also comes with numerous other features including the ability to share the photos you took with others and create an interactive timeline based on the statistics gathered from the GPS navigator.
The $549 price tag makes the Garmin Oregon 650t a massive investment for a device with a small screen. But this small screen is backed by the very best of Garmin’s technologies and innovations. It can also be seen as a cheaper alternative to the larger Garmin Montana devices. Don’t forget too that the Garmin Oregon 650t is a pretty good digital camera for the trail. Finally, the performance improvements are enough to put pressure on the competitors that are making similar GPS devices.