OREGON 450: Your GPS guide on and off the beaten track
SATNAV (satellite navigation): where would we be without it? A good question for marketers of such devices. Satnav is extremely useful for those of us who are considered to be ‘geographically impaired’. (I’ve been known to get lost in my own home town of Eshowe, which only has one main street).
Unfortunately, satnav also happens to be responsible for a significant portion of traffic-related accidents — largely a result of people following their Navigatrix too blindly. A lot of people have found themselves driving off the road and into ditches by obeying misleading satnav instructions.
If you are going to make use of satellite navigation, it is therefore vital to get a good device. Garmin is the more popular and trustworthy brand on the market that has spawned a whole range of GPS devices. I personally wouldn’t pay less than R2 000 for a good Garmin. Anything below that price tag might just direct you into a sugarcane field.
But if you would rather rid yourself entirely of any navigational worries and get a state-of-the-art device, the Garmin Oregon 450 is one of the newer GPS devices released this year that comes bundled with extra features.
The device retails for just under R5 000, but apart from the necessary mapping software, the Oregon features a tri-axial compass and a barometric altimeter. These offer support on and off the beaten track and can aid you in unfamiliar cities as well as during off-road adventures and marine voyages.
Garmin Oregon 450 features
The Oregon has a single button that turns the device on and off. The rest is fully touch-enabled and the touch interface offers all the features one would ever need in a GPS device. With so much on offer, it does take a little getting used to, but there is the option of fully customizing the interface to suit your needs.
Garmin seems to have taken things a few strides further by making the Oregon 450 more than just a satellite navigation device. This GPS gadget comes with useful extras such as the tri-axial compass, photo viewer, calculator, calendar, stopwatch and alarm clock. The Oregon can also be used to track the behaviour of the sun, moon and tides as well as determine altitude and measure water depth.
Garmin Oregon 450 touch interface
Hand-held GPS receivers typically offer lots of options, and can be overwhelming for a first-time user. The main menu is spread across five screens, but these can be customised to suit your needs.
I was particularly fond of the compass which is entirely accurate and shows no delay whatsoever. The device also sits snugly in the palm of your hand and I imagine it would be very useful for the more outdoorsy types. The barometric altimeter is useful for hikers and can also be used to plot barometric pressure over time, which can help you keep an eye on changing weather conditions.
A unique feature of the Oregon 450, which has become popular among American huntsman and fisherman, is the “hunt/fish” feature. This provides the best times to hunt and fish in the area and offers a variety of cartography for boating and fishing excursions. It also provides both extensive offshore coverage and detailed lake coverage.
For the outdoor adventurer, the Oregon 450 makes use of topographic maps, which are ideal for hiking, hunting, camping, climbing and even snowmobiling. Once a nice collection of routes or hikes is created and stored, one is able to share their waypoints, tracks, routes and geocaches wirelessly with others that have compatible Oregon devices. Connect your Oregon to your PC and you are also able to view all your activities on a map using Google Earth.
Garmin Oregon 450: The verdict
I don’t imagine that anyone could break an Oregon without trying really hard. This Garmin feels really solid and break-proof and is resistant to bumps, dust, dirt, humidity and water. Having only one pressable button on the device also stops the risk of buttons breaking.
Battery life is said to be 16 hours, but note that this is likely to be the life of really good quality batteries when the device is on standby and not in full use. What is lacking in this regard is the option of being able to charge the device while you drive.
Overall the Garmin Oregon 450 is certainly a great GPS to get if you’re willing to meet the price tag. It may be a bit overwhelming for those who prefer a more minimalistic device, but the Oregon does come with a very useful, six-page quick-start guide that will familiarise you with the device in less than a week.
Whatever GPS device you decide to use, just remember to apply some common sense when driving too. Driving into ditches is no fun; been there, done that.
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