Handheld GPS devices can start at around $150 and go up all the way to $500. What’s nice is that even the most affordable GPS devices have the bare essentials like a color display and reliable GPS tracking capabilities. Magellan offers that kind of lineup and it isn’t so surprising for the company’s biggest competitors to have similar offerings. It also means that GPS devices priced more than $300 aren’t for everyone. The Magellan eXplorist 610 is one example of such a device but all it takes to understand the appeal of this hiking GPS device is to check out its exclusive features.

Magellan eXplorist 610

Magellan eXplorist 610

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About the Magellan eXplorist 610

The eXplorist 610 is a high-end Magellan device priced at $399. It is specifically for hikers and explorers that find cheaper Magellan devices to be lacking in functionality. Functionality is really the key word of the Magellan eXplorist 610 because it shares many of the same functions as the cheaper 510 including the 3-inch touch display, user interface and SiRFstarIII high-sensitivity GPS. It has the same design and build quality as the 510 too although it comes in a different color so any cases that work with the 510 or 710 should work with the 610 as well.

Exclusive Features

The barometric altimeter and 3-axis electronic compass are the two big selling points of the eXplorist 610. The compass gives you a clear indicator as to where north is which can come in handy if you are lost or need to find a difficult geocache. The benefit works together with barometric altimeter which detects changes in weather conditions.

The other big feature that the Magellan eXplorist 610 brings to the table is preloaded topographic maps. The main model comes with the Summit Series USA maps which includes all sorts of points of interest, trails, waterways and contour lines in both 2D and 3D views. If you find yourself searching for gas stations, water sources or bike shops, the Summit Series maps should serve you well. Those living in Canada can get the eXplorist 610 that comes with Summit Series Canada version.

Other Features

No matter which Magellan eXplorist 610 variant you pick, you will gain access to the same World Edition basemaps provided by NAVTEQ. These maps contain tons of road network data across hundreds of countries around the world. Although the Summit Series maps should be sufficient for topography, you can still subscribe to other map services like National Geographic and save the maps to a microSD card for use.

If ever you need to take any spontaneous shots while navigating, the 3.2-megapixel camera on the rear of the device could prove to be useful. During the day, pictures look worthy of sharing over social networking sites although there is no direct upload functionality. What the eXplorist 610 does best is geotag the photos so when you do get the chance to upload, the proper location data will be shown. Videos can be recorded as well but the quality is subpar compared to the typical smartphones.

The Magellan eXplorist 610 also doubles as a voice recorder thanks to its built-in microphone. The volume doesn’t go up so high but it is loud enough to be useful for making field notes. These notes can be attached to routes, tracks, geocaches or waypoints. It has the same paperless geocaching functions as other devices in the eXplorist family with the exception of the highly affordable eXplorist GC which offers a premium Geocaching.com membership.

Performance

After hiking for a couple of hours with the eXplorist 610, it is safe to say that the device is worthy of its premium price tag. All the advertised functions worked well and the touch-friendly interface is good overall. Configuring the device might be the most tedious part but once finished, all you really need to learn is the main map view. Touching the map will bring up four buttons located on the corners. Depending on which corner you touch, you can go directly to the dashboards, options menu, main menu or OneTouch menu. The OneTouch menu is another feature worth configuring because it is the place where you can access all your favorite places. You can add up to 9 extra locations while having convenient access to your house, camp and car on the top. Considering the high price of the Magellan eXplorist 610, it would have been nice if the device had a faster processor just to make up for the slow startup time and average touch responsiveness.

Conclusion

Pros:

• Preloaded topo maps for the US and World Edition roadmaps.

• Barometric altimeter and 3-axis electronic compass enhance the navigational experience.

• Intuitive map interface.

Cons:

• Should have used a faster processor than lower-end models.

• Average battery life

Verdict:

If you are looking for a reliable GPS device with a nice interface along with preloaded maps and a barometric altimeter and 3-axis electronic compass, the eXplorist 610 is right up your alley.

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