What GPS to Buy

G'day all, I have a Garmin 276C, I have had for a few years and find it good for local use. It does not have Australia wide mapping. The cards are very xy.
What do other members recommend for a good GPS to use throughout AU mainly Bush, not really interested in city mapping.
I have tried doing a search but some I have looked at out of date and are no longer available.
I plan to do Western Qld this year, weather permitting, then Across the top from Cairns to Broome, Tanami, Simpson then up through Qld again.
Any help or suggestions will be appreciated.

Love the bush

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Reply By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 19:58

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 19:58

My reply is biased, as I have been using a similar setup for some years.
Rather than just a GPS, lets look at the total solution.

Basically, any device that will run OziExplorer (a mapping program) will give you the most flexible solution.

Anything from a Hema Navigator (already installed with all the goodies for both bush and city navigation) to a VMS style unit, which can be bought much cheaper, but will probably need to have the applications such as OziExplorer and digital maps installed.

The Hema Navigator comes complete with OziExplorer and a full collection of australian digital maps such as the NATMAP series, plus the full range of Hema maps for Australia and regional areas.
The current Hema Navigator now has an "upgraded" City Navigation application to replace "Route 66" which has proven to be somewhat clunky to use.

Personally, I believe the combination of both Australia wide navigation using OziExplorer and City Navigation applications is still restrictive, as you can only use one application at a time, with the need to hut down one to start another.

My previous solution of a PDA running Oziexplorer and CoPilot Live was excellent and flexible, as both apps could be started up and run concurrently, (using GPSGate to enable GPS input to multiple applications) and with the ability to flip between the applications without losing tracking data from either.
Unfortunately, the display size was rather small for old eyes like mine.

I now use a separate TomTom device for City Natigation and a Hema Navigator for all country wide treks with the ability to save tracks and waypoint data.

More confused now?


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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 20:01

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 20:01
For a more in depth understanding of GPS technology, have a look at the artical referred to at the top right corner of the window.


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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 21:02

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 21:02

Just to even the playing field a little.

Our VMS also came with Oziexplorer installed and awhole bunch of Hema and topo maps as well. I have now added free maps down to 25K resolution.

It also had another bush navigating progrom, Moving Map, and Igo street mapping based on whereis.

I am not sure about the Hema's capabilities for things other than mapping/navigating but I can say that our VMS unit is far supoerior to one of our sons imported noname unit.

We also connect the Walkman with 6 days of music on it and NO ADS. No hassles with losing radio stations or changing CD/DVDs etc We also carry USB memory sticks and SD cards for other entertainment if we feel like it. I do not know what the Hema can do in this field.

Just trying to balance out your post.

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Follow Up By: Sand Man (SA) - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 07:39

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 07:39

No problems with that.
Good to see input from someone with first hand experience with the VMS option.
This will give Damien and others more information when choosing a device.

Just a matter of interest.
Is your VMS device a portable unit or built-in to the dash?


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Follow Up By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 08:22

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 08:22
Hi Bill

No way. Its installed in the dash and a couple of extra brackets have been added so that it cannot be stolen without a certain matching tool. For walking around we have a map and a compas and the sat phone has the GPS location in it. It is also fully integrated with rear view camera and the cars entertainment system. We also have DVD screens in the rear for the grandkids. Its also nice to be able to check out the rear at any time.

One thing that I like is the ability to play a DVD for the kids in the rear and listen to the radio/USB in the front. The kids have wireless headphones.

Blue tooth is also on it. Does the Hema have blue tooth?

For walking around: Kind of old school here. Always take paper map backup and as a matter of fact we have not even used the Whereis street navigation in it.

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Reply By: Member - John and Val - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 20:03

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 20:03

For the sort of travel you are talking about a computer fitted with a mouse style gps unit and running oziexplorer is absolutely ideal. The downside is that it's inconvenient to carry a laptop, and pretty expensive if the laptop doesn't have other uses. For years now we've used a small desktop computer hidden back in the cargo space, with a touch screen and gps on the dashboard - with a few 100,000 km, it has survived the worst we've encountered, the CSR, Simpson, etc. We are aiming to upgrade to a tablet style pc on the dashboard, but that's a long story.... This isn't the sort of off the shelf answer I think you'd prefer, but worth a thought if you are willing to look outside the square.


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Reply By: Bonz (Vic) - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 20:14

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 20:14
You should be able to fit the whole of australia on the 276C with city navigator or OzTopo. IN my opinion you have the best GPS for what you are doing already, you can buy a perpetual upgrade fior maps fror around 150 dollars.
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Follow Up By: Member - Damien L (Cairns) - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 20:27

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 20:27
Hi Bonz, When I Bought the 276 they said it would only fit the east coast of au on the card hence I need one that has all au.
So far as I said I am happy with the 276.

Thanks for the other replies, I do have Ozexplorer but at my age I thought I was OK with new technowlegy but I can't seem to get it working.
What I do need is some to go through it with me, then I can understand it. I have found in the past If I am shown I learn easier than reading instructions??????
Thanks all,

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Follow Up By: Chris & Sue (Briz Vegas) - Thursday, Apr 07, 2011 at 00:51

Thursday, Apr 07, 2011 at 00:51
Hi Damian,

As Bonz said, I also believe you've got the best GPS around for what you're doing. Pity it's now discontinued and Garmin have yet to market a real replacement/update for it.

I have had a 276c for about 5 years and while you are correct about not being able to fit all of Oz on the card, all I do is download the areas where I want to travel via MapSource / USB connection as and when I need them. We're currently in WA and I've only needed to update the maps on the card about the time we were going to cross the Nullarbor.

I run both the normal Garmin maps plus Shonky Topo and can fit about half of Australia on the card at a time.

If you want more precise instructions as to how to update your maps, drop me an MM (but it may take a few days as we're doing a lot of bush camping at the moment and I always seem to be in the 2% that Mr Telstra doesn't reach).

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Reply By: kenneth w - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 21:01

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 21:01
Hope nuvi 660, would be best for you. As you are not looking for city mapping. It has many other mapping also.
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Reply By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 21:22

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 21:22
I have tried a lot Damien - but quite simply nothing matches the 276c.

Even today in another post the 276c came up as the only device that can
do other things such as monitor you cars voltage and ring an alarm when it drops to far.

I'd love a GPS with a bigger screen - there are some of course but they all tend
to lack real features.

I even use things like Ozi-exp on a netbook , and its fun for support and reference but it can't even follow a track and point the pointer along it.

Others like Nuvi 765 are ok but have dropped the ability to upload your homemade tracks and limit waypoints to about 1000 etc.

Get Oz troppo for your 276c from GPSoz , this is the outback stuff.

You can definately get whole of Australia on a card , but as you say the cards are expensive.

I brought some smaller cards off ebay (128mb) and if you want all the streets as well then Australia takes 2 cards - but really is no drama to have a couple of cards and swap them each time you travel to that hot land 2 hrs behind us.

If you just leave out the big cities then the rest will fit on one card.

After reading my comments above I think you should actually dump the 276c and put it on trader as I'm looking for a second one to extend the life of my systems.

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Follow Up By: Robin Miller - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 21:43

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 21:43
I left one important point out Damien (typed above during a break in watching Top Gears Boliva Special)

That is , that the 276c is great for those who really use its engineering type features - but if you don't use them or just wish to type in a destination and follow the arrow then someting like the Hema might be better.

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Reply By: The Explorer - Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 22:10

Tuesday, Apr 05, 2011 at 22:10

For the record books the sizes of the various mapsets for all of Australia are as follows

City Navigator (2008) - 152 mb

Oztopo V2 (no contours) - 308 mb

Oztopo V2 10m Contours - 1 gb

Garmin Topo V2 - 1.79gb

Shonky full topo - 192 mb

So - depends on what mapset you would like to use and the size of the card you have. If you only have a 128mb card then "Australia wide mapping" will not fit. Max for 276c is 512 mb ...but at A$299 on the local market you'd want to have a good think.

It is unclear if you have already purchased the entire Aus mapset you want to use or not. Stick with what youve got if you are happy and get a bigger card but ...get calculator out first. 276c is a good unit but its not the ultimate unit for everyone. Some of the functions spruked by others may never be used and other units can do things a 276c cant (e.g display Raster maps/Air Photos) ...so your personal requirements are a very important consideration.

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Reply By: Member - Damien L (Cairns) - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 08:18

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 08:18
Thanks, Greg, Robin, Bonz, John and Bill, What you have all said I am going to Keep the 276 and use it as a moving map. I have the N-Rout program and I will try to load all Au on it less the big cities as suggested.

I just wish I could learn how to use it properly, I could have learned quicker when I was younger but things change so quick these days there is a lot more to learn.

I go on long service and annual leave in 2 weeks time for 4 months then I retire and hopefully, weather permitting travel western Qld then do the Savannah Way and Tanami. I have been looking forward to this for 5 years now.

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Reply By: WBS - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 08:48

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 08:48
Just to add a variation to whats been posted so far.
I bought a 7" Knav GPS last year (cheap Chinese unit). It comes with iGO8 street navigation software and also runs OziExplorerCE. It could also run the Windows CE version of Tom Tom if I chose to load it. Apart from the normal Bluetooth, FM transmitter, MP3 and ebooks capability. it also came with a wireless reversing camera. It holds the programs on an SD card which I have upgraded from 4GB to 32 GB. The unit cost me $275.

I am most impressed with the unit after a years use that includes some very corrugated roads and tracks such as the Gibb River Rd, Bungle Bungles, Palm Valley Goss's Bluff. It has performed flawlessly. I run NATMAP Digital maps mostly, although I do on occasions load the relevant Hema product. I have my whole mapping collection loaded onto the 32GB SD card. When travelling on major roads I also have separate a TomTom on the go for the city and town stuff so that I don't have to switch between to applications while on the move.

I haven't worked out if it can run iGO and OziExplorer simultaneously but I doubt it. iGO is as good as TomTom in my opinion and I've been using the Knav around Melbourne when at home. Given the cost compared with other units available I am really satisfied with the unit.

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Reply By: vk1dx - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 09:47

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 09:47

I think that you should look seriously at the data size that you want to have available for maps.

I think I read above that the 276c has a limit of 512M for maps. I hope I am wrong because that would not be anywhere near enough space. It may be okay for the highways and road caravan use. But not for offroad. Just our detailed maps for the east coast (Vic, NSW and QPL) for Oziexplorer in our VMS take up more than 4Gb for the 4WD drives that we do.

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Reply By: Member - Maws (WA) - Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 10:48

Wednesday, Apr 06, 2011 at 10:48
All I can add is don't buy the Hema Nav 5, its junk, I am on my third one, after many battles with Hema, and it has just chucked a wobbly so its going in the bin. Cant stand arguing with them any more.

The units are made in China and every little thing that goes wrong its a month trip back to China for repairs (that's if Hema even accepts responsibility for the warranty - which in my experience they try to get out off).

In the two years we have owned the HM5 we have been without it for 5 months so we purchased a VMS and so far that does everything the hema does (and more) and is working fine.

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Reply By: Member - Bucky - Thursday, Apr 07, 2011 at 04:41

Thursday, Apr 07, 2011 at 04:41
I picked up a Magellan Explorist 600 with Aus City & Topo card, off this site, some 3 years back. ($350 from memory)
Could not be happier..(although the mapping software it uses on the computer is no where as good as Garmin's.)

I hunt and use it, (brilliant, and waterproof)
Can zoom into towns and get down to Street level (Brilliant, although the screen is a little small)

I used it on the Canning, the Gibb, and in the Kimberley....(Birlliant)

We also have a Garmin Nuvi 1490 5"screen, with city navigator, and Oz Topo installed. Yes it's the Yuppie type one, that sits up on the dashboard, and is suction cupped to the windscren. it's brilliant, but not waterproof, so no good huntig.

Can get double DIN ones for your vehicle, that mount neatly into your dashboard, andwill run any most mapping and GPS software, for around $600, they do it all.

Your choice mate !

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Reply By: nick b - Thursday, Apr 07, 2011 at 22:27

Thursday, Apr 07, 2011 at 22:27
The garmin 276c looks like a good thing . so you could get a"note pad" type lap top computor ,nice size screen to look at ,load garmin topo aus & nz they have hema plus others inc a good map setup also get nroute free for garmin , Then you can use the lap top for other things ie email , check out Exploroz etc . Happy travels
Cheers Nick b

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