Friday, May 20, 2011

The new Garmin Montana--the all-in-one GPS?

Garmin GPS units; Review: New line of dual-use touch-screen GPS. A guest post by Kevin Jordan

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“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”  ~Henry David Thoreau


First, there was Colorado. Then came Oregon, and after that Dakota, and now...Montana? If the my chronology seems a little out of whack, it's because I'm not talking about states here--I'm talking about Garmin GPS units. Montana GPS This week, Garmin announced the release of a new line of dual-use touch-screen GPS units. The "Montana" series, as it's called, is designed to bridge the gap between outdoor-use GPS units like those in the Oregon series, and automotive units like those in the Nuvi series. Both the Oregon and Nuvi series have been very successful and popular, and those GPS units are very good at their respective tasks. However, there has never really been a GPS unit that was a good fit for both the outdoor and automotive markets...but it looks like the Garmin Montana might just be the GPS that does that successfully.

For one thing, unlike previous outdoor-use GPS units that will just give textual turn-by-turn driving directions, the Montana GPS units will also give you voice commands. However, the speakers for the voice commands are located in the actual automotive mount, not the GPS. This way, Garmin could keep the size and weight of the GPS low enough not to be awkward for hikers and backpackers. Montana Auto Mount Another first for the Montana is that, similar to many smartphones, you can hold it vertically or horizontally. I would imagine that holding it horizontally would make it a little easier to use in the automotive mode. There are two power options for the Montana: a rechargeable lithium-ion battery pack (included with the GPS), or 3 AA batteries. Useful battery life with the AA batteries is advertised as 22 hours, which is more than most handheld GPS units currently on the market. Battery life with the lithium-ion pack is advertised as 16 hours.

All 3 units in the Montana series (the 600, 650, and 650t) include a barometric altimeter and electronic compass, have slots for microSD cards, and are compatible with all Garmin maps, BirdsEye satellite imagery, and custom maps. Montana GPS The Montana 650 also includes a 5 megapixel camera, and the 650t includes the camera and is also pre-loaded with detailed U.S. topographic maps. All in all, the Montana GPS units look pretty impressive. They're slated to hit the market in late June, so we've got a month to drool in anticipation. Until then, we can only wonder--is the Montana the elusive all-in-one GPS we've all been waiting for?


About Kevin Jordan  I’m an avid hiker, Kevin's Picturebackpacker, climber, and lover of the outdoors. I’ve been backpacking and climbing all around the world including trips to New Zealand and Chile. I currently run a business selling new and pre-owned handheld GPS units, as well as providing GPS units for rent. I love teaching people how to use GPS technology to take their outdoor adventures to the next level.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Kevin How are you finding the Garmin Montana 600 a couple of years on? I am debating buying one but not really sure whether to buy that or wait for the New Oregon 600. Thoughts welcome?