User Review: Garmin eTrex Summit HC
Price Paid: $170
The Garmin eTrex series stands as a massive force in the current civilian GPSr market. With many models to choose from, consumers can pick a receiver that best fits their perceived needs and price-range.
And, Garmin has done well with keeping this line current. The eTrex line has been updated with the "HC" series, which features more sensitive satellite antenna and chip set, slightly stockier build, and a bright color screen.
The Summit HC is a mid-level offering in the current eTrex lineup. It shares many features with many other models in the eTrex HC line (Venture, Legend, Vista), such as a passable base map, the ability to record up to 50 routes, a well-executed "geocaching" mode, and other features.
What sets the Summit apart from cheaper models is the addition of an electronic ABC: Altimeter, Barometer, and Compass. The A and B portion of this unit share the same sensor and user screen. While handy, these tools require constant calibration and are, perhaps, the Achilles heel of the unit. Their use and accuracy take patience and some extra knowledge. Although these are not horrible issues, they certainly stand out on an otherwise intuitive unit.
The C, electronic compass, portion of the unit is an excellent addition. It enables the user to acquire a bearing to his or her next waypoint without having to be moving. In this reviewer's opinion, this function is simply worth the additional cost of the unit over a lesser unit (such as the Venture).
The unit does lack the ability to add additional memory. However, the on-board memory is more than sufficient for storing a very large amount of map data. For example, my unit currently has the bulk of SW Montana downloaded to it.
I have used the Summit for hiking, geocaching, biking, hunting, and fishing. For the price and the features, I don't foresee myself upgrading any time soon. I have used friends' more expensive units (Colorado's, 60Cx's) and can't justify the additional cost.
It gets hit for one star because of the picky A and B functions. In my opinion, Garmin should be able to dial those in a bit better. Otherwise, every star is fully earned.