Garmin 276C replacement (Montana 650t)

Submitted: Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 10:22
ThreadID: 108097 Views:2723 Replies:3 FollowUps:21
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In thread 107238 there was a debate about a replacement for the Garmin 276C GPS which first came onto the market around 10 years ago. I purchased a Montanta 650t in April to replace my aging 276C which has not died yet but is on the way. They now both sit on the dash in the Cruiser and I have had a few trips to see how they compare after learning how the Montana works.
In summary after being totally familiar with both units, a 276C updated to take SD cards and an up to dated GPS engine would be my first choice by a country mile.
The differences.
1. the 267C screen is bigger and easier to read.
2. The 276C has see through data fields against the Montana which blocks out the map.
3. The 276C is button operated as opposed to a touch screen which is more tactile especially on a bumpy track.
4. The Montana runs out of memory if the route you ask it to calculate is to long. This is a major annoyance as it cannot calculate a route from my home in Melbourne to the Riverina in NSW a distance of about 450 k's. While I know how to drive there I want to know my ETA and the distance to go, very frustrating.
5. When you save a track on the 276C it condenses the track to 300 points, whereas the Montana saves every point no matter how long the track. (The Montana has more memory)
6. Battery life is about 50% greater on a 276C
7. The Montana is lighter and easier to carry if you are walking.
8. The Montana holds all of my maps for the whole of Australia all of the time whereas with the 276C I have to load the maps for the States I am going too, not hard but a hassle.
9. The Montana drops the GPS signal from time to time for no apparent reason even though it has a clear view of the sky. Its is not for long, just annoying.
10. I purchased my Montana through GPSOZ who have been very helpful in assisting me to come to grips with the Montana.
Lastly would I recommend the Montana 650t as a replacement for the Garmin 276C? The answer is, while it is not ideal, I could not find any other choice. It is a bit like Microsoft, just when you have come to grips with one version of Windows they bring out a new a better (??????) version.
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Reply By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 12:03

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 12:03
Hello

Thanks for review,

I did suggest Garmin Monterra as another option in previous thread...basically the same as the Montana to look at but runs Android operating system so apart from the Garmin interface/maps you can also run ANY android app including OziExplorer, TwoNav, MemoryMap ect. Costs more but may suit some peoples needs better...but anyway..

Some of you observations seem to contradict published specifications/require clarification

"the 267C screen is bigger"

Published data:

276C screen - 8.1 cm × 5.4 cm, 9.75 cm diagonally - 480 × 320 pixels.

Montana - 8.93 cm x 5.06; 10.2cm diagonally - 480 x 272 pixels

Using this information the Montana has a screen surface area of 45.2 cm2, the 276C 43.7 cm2. i.e. the Monterra screen is bigger though difference is bugger all (but bigger none the less), though screen resolution of 276C better (slightly) which may account for comment that it is "easier to read".

"Battery life is about 50% greater on a 276C"
Published Dat
276C: 5 – 15 hours

Montana: up to 16 hours (lithium-ion); up to 22 hours (AA batteries)

Battery life of any device is totally dependent on various factors, the main one in this case being back light setting - just stating "Battery life is about 50% greater on a 276C" is leaving out the important information - under what conditions/using what batteries? Did you have the back light setting on the 276c set to low and the back light on the Montana set to high? Even a subtle reduction in back light will improve your battery life considerably.

Cant comment on other comparisons though the problem with the route memory doesn't sound right...but its not something I use. You may have to specify what map set you were using...same in both cases?

Cheers
Greg




I sent one final shout after him to stick to the track, to which he replied “All right,” That was the last ever seen of Gibson - E Giles 23 April 1874

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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 12:45

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 12:45
Thanks Greg,
I think it was you that mentioned the screen size in a previous post. I have the two side by side on my dash and the 5 people I have asked which is the bigger they all said the 276C without hesitation. They are a different shape but you see more map on the 276C, which just goes to show that figures are not everything.
As far as battery life goes my experience is real life. I always run them at full brightness doing the same thing. I think it is a bit the same as you buy a new car with a stated fuel consumption but in the real world most do not achieve it.
In relation to route memory problems, you are right they do use different maps, but the Montana has vastly more memory plus a 32 Gb card with over 20 Gb free which I would have thought more than enough.
I now know the Montana very well and are quite comfortable with it, however if a 276C upgrade as I mentioned before, I would buy it immediately and ditch the Montana. A dinasour I maybe, but I am far from being alone. Cheers and thanks for your comments I am sure others will find them helpful.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 13:09

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 13:09
yeah each to their own...the fact that the 276C doesn't have the capability to show raster maps and small max memory card size (among other things) makes it a door stop for me irrespective of any other features including the make believe larger screen size (must be an optical illusion :)

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 13:19

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 13:19
PS: If you have all the accessories and the unit suits your needs then sticking with the 276c is a good idea but starting from scratch, no way ...e.g. price of the small 512mb data cards (the maximum available for a 276c) is actually more (~$146 US) than the cheapest Garmin Etrex (~$128 US) !!!

Cheers
Greg

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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 13:42

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 13:42
PS: I also previously mentioned TwoNav Aventura...this has advantage of having touch screen and buttons, plus vector and raster map viewing capability...possibly worth considering for some as well.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 14:20

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 14:20
Totally agree, anyone buying a secondhand 276C who has not had one before would be crazy. The second hand units are very pricey because that's what the market will pay. As you say if you have had one, have the accessories, and it suits your needs is the only reason you would buy a second hand unit. There must be a lot of people who like them as their prices are quite ridiculous compared to the newer units.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 14:27

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 14:27
..think my mates got one in his cupboard that he may not want (think he has Hema in truck and in dash unit in car now)...will have to get it out and polish it up for sale for him.

Cheers
Greg
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 19:54

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 19:54
As you say Chris , we have discussed this before and we still can't better the 276c, but I will hangout as long as I can , but then I will also stay with my coil sprung live axles and diff locks Patrol also.

The 276c also seems like it has a bigger screen because of its seperate keyboard which means it doesn't consume screen space displaying buttons and its quicker to both react and requires less menu choices.
It feels about the same as our 5 inch car Nuvi's.

The 276c doesn't have to save only 300 points and this depends on settings you have.

Actually you can have pretty well any accuracy you wish based on its 10,000 point track memory.

What I do is upload tracks recorded to my laptop and using the standard Mapsource software you can compress the tracks such that you vector optimize either time or distance variations.
e.g. on a straight road 300km long only takes 2 points.

When you load a track back into it it can only be up to 700 points but as these are the optimized ones they go forever.

Melbourne to Ayres rock via desert nearly 3000km is less than 700 points so with 15 such critters available you never run out of space , in fact the software is so much easier to use than Ozi that I join several tracks together and use them in a library of pre-defined data for my next trips.

I got my eye or 4 276c I know of and I'm sure one will come my way so I should be right for a while espically as I find value in having a seperate GPS for displaying things like EToppo raster maps and this leaves the 276c free for the navigation stuff.

I don't know if you know this but you can easily change track colour on track you are recording on 276c such that it stands out from other tracks.

Now , don't laugh , but I was nosing around the other day and saw this new bulldozer track heading off into some bush and of cause its mandatory to follow such things, but it was soon getting dark and track was ill defined then it split a few times and I began getting spatially disorientated.
So I decide thats enough and only way out was to follow my own track on GPS but it was hard to see until I changed to a contrasting colour.










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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 20:42

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 20:42
Thanks Robin. These days I also have a laptop with me which greatly helps in using the 276C. Like you I also save the tracks as I go so that I do not get the tracks trucated. As for changing the colours of tracks I often use a different colour for say a week which helps if you want see or show where you have been and the time it took. These days I do not rely on the 276C as much as I now also have the Garmin Montana 650t and a disk less ultrabook running OzExplorer. But I will keep on using the 276C until the day it dies which hopefully will not be any time soon.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 21:43

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 21:43
"Now , don't laugh"

Sorry - cant help my self.

Cheers
Greg
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Reply By: Navigator 1 (NSW) - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 21:49

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 21:49
Thank you for this post. I also have a 276C and have run it for 9 years. Like everyone who owns one I have the delima of what to do when it dies. Its capabilities & screen clarity etc are hard to beat.
Now that I have read this report on the Montana I'm wondering if I should start looking for a second hand 276C!!!!!
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 22:21

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 22:21
Hi

Montana isn't the only option...many others. Depends on your needs. Hema navigators are popular, also VMS units and then various GPS mapping software on Ipads, Android tablets etc...plus handhelds.

Times have moved on since 276 release. Consider all options and don't resist change for reasons based on stubbornness. If you are following RM’s lead, l notice a change in his reasoning. He is now considering another GPS as an accessory …“especially as I find value in having a separate GPS for displaying things like EToppo (sic) raster maps". (AnswerID: 533759 above) ha ha..a subtle acknowledgment that he may not have the be all and end all of GPS units. It’s taken a while but the not so subtle advice I have provided in several posts seems to have worked. I return to the bat cave to prepare for my next mission:)

Cheers
Greg

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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 22:24

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 22:24
I thought that the asking price for a used 276C was high for something that has no guarantee or support, and whose life is unknown and could be as short as 5 minutes. So I bit the bullet and brought the Montana 650t. I will never know if I have made the right decision but I have been moving with the times for 70 years so why stop now. It is a bit of a toss up what to do, you will just have to hope you make the right choice.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 22:37

Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 at 22:37
..you wont get lost:) All the stuff RM has been rambling on about is just standard (in some cases substandard) GPS/mapping stuff these days.

I ran into a senior (not old, just experienced) exploration field hand using one (Montana) the other day, he loved it.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 08:16

Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 08:16
Hi Rob

I think you have to stay focussed on what your real needs are Rob.

If I wanted a handheld I would probably go with the Montanna as Chris did.
Being a handheld it has different requirements and its relatively to slow to react , but who cares if your walking ?

The 276c feature set remains unmatched for dependable Navigation based on tracks and waypoints , with as you say clear concise presentation of the information one actually needs , and its ability to add those special items.

I expect to be able to maintain mine for years and don't forget that Garmin can re-furbish them, but I waited and got a second one from Ebay at less cost anyway.
Perhaps when the next one comes up we will be bidding against each other ?

I always try to have a backup for everything though and always carry a consumer grade Gps which can have the latest maps at a low cost.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 09:33

Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 09:33
Hi Robin, I have returned my 276C twice over the years to Garmin for a motherboard battery change and on both occassions they replaced the whole unit for a cost just under $300. The last time I contacted them in April 2014 they told me they no longer support the 276C so re-furbishing would appear not to be an option, because if it was I would not have started this thread as I would have had mine re-furbished.
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 09:54

Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 09:54
Hi

The Montana is actually best referred to as a "Hybrid" - a compromise between a handheld and in car unit i.e. its a bit bigger than your average handheld and a bit more "ruggerdised" than your average in car unit. It has features of both e.g. Handheld - long battery life/ability to use AA batteries. In car - bigger screen, capability to provide voice directions when coupled with an in car mount and appropriate maps.

If you wanted a Garmin handheld you wouldn't by a Montana you would get a 64s or similar. Handhelds are not "relatively .. slow to react" compared to in car units - that is, for want of a better three words, complete bull dust.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Navigator 1 (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 10:56

Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 10:56
Thank you to everyone who has given feedback in this post. Its good to know the options for when the inevitable occurs.
For now my immediate problem is how to load the EOTopo maps I bought from EO. I cannot work this out.
I opened the folder and it shows:
EWC
Name Search
OZF
But what to do from here????? I do have OziExplorer on the laptop and know how to use maps once they are loaded
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 11:04

Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 11:04
Rob I presume you mean loading onto your laptop , they can't be loaded onto a 276c.

I have Eo Toppo loaded on my laptop , you have to have the latest Ozi explorer though to handle the Ozf4 format, then its quite straightforward.
(Version 3.95.5t)


Chris , which Garmin office said they would no longer do it, I was aware that Australia didn't .
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Follow Up By: The Explorer - Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 11:09

Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 11:09
Rob - we are straying off topic so might get moderated but ...

The maps are in the ECW and OZF folders. If you are using OziExplorer I would recommend you use OZF format as this works best (though ECW will also work fine). So..Copy that folder and all contents onto your PC (maybe place in C:/OziExplorer/Maps folder) . When done you can view them in OziExplorer by starting the program and clicking on large icon on top left of screen LOAD -> Load Map File -> Navigate to the folder where you have the maps and select map of choice.

If you wish to discuss this further maybe start a new thread.

Cheers
Greg
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 11:15

Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 11:15
Robin, The Office is Garmin Aust Customer Support 1 800 235 822
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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 11:47

Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 11:47
I'm pretty sure that also covers or is an international contact Chris so it probably means that all factory support , not just local is out.

Keep in touch though if yours dies as I have fixed some and I believe there are 3rd party repairers.

I will certainly keep a closer eye on whats around now.

I think I said in an earlier thread that there is a bigger version but it only has the marine features not the extra auto ones.
(I love the dashboard feature).

These are still available second hand and they are all the rage in off-road events.
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Follow Up By: Idler Chris - Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 13:02

Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 13:02
In 2004 I flew around the perimeter of Australia in a light aircraft and the pilot had a 376C it was brilliant, and according to the pilot far superior to anything else available at the time. I would imagine they are still being used today and still brilliant. I brought my 267C 2 days after getting home. The only thing wrong with mine is that you put in an address to goto and it calculates a route that is neither the shortest or the quickest and has you driving sometimes where there are not any roads.
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Follow Up By: Navigator 1 (NSW) - Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 17:15

Thursday, Jun 05, 2014 at 17:15
Thanks Greg, We snuck in under the radar. The maps are loaded and are working well.
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