User Review: Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx
Price Paid: $300 USD
Garmin's GPSMAP 60CSx marks the end of a paradigm for Garmin. While their more budget-conscious trail products (eTrex) retain tactile interfaces the move now is for touchscreen versatility. While this review doesn't touch upon the validity of such a strategy, I did think it worth mentioning. This product is not part of Garmin's future in the way that the Colorado, Oregon, and Dakota are. Still, this GPS is extraordinarily capable and, if you need some of its premium features, it might be the sweet spot in the price-to-performance category.
What I like about it.
The 60CSx has an uncanny ability to maintain a fix. I recorded a day hike on an Ohio trail that spent much of its length under trees in a canyon whose depth sometimes exceeded 100 feet; it never failed to record my track. The unit is also quite rugged, and wears the nicks and scuffs of my mistreatment of it as a badge of honor. It also sips from the batteries. Although the two required AA batteries must be alkaline (lithium cells apparently deliver too high a voltage when new), they seem to last a more than generous amount of time.
What I don't like.
Navigating the menus and typing on the on-screen keyboard is non-trivially difficult. The unit I own often seems to move the cursor in the adjacent direction I pressed on the d-pad. This results in selecting the wrong letter or menu option more often than I care to accept without frustration. I'll also reiterate here that the unit cannot accept lithium batteries, which makes it minimally more expensive to operate in the long run.
I can't decide which section its Turn-By-Turn direction capability should fall. I suppose I'm mostly neutral on the subject. It isn't at all why I purchased the device and it technically delivers on this promise, but the implementation isn't all that convenient. Only the base street map is included with the unit, and the addon maps are expensive. There is also no support for voice-guided navigation, instead the unit has two different tones to warn you of upcoming turns. This forces you to look at the unit, and if you don't have a dashboard or windshield mount for it then that means you're grabbing for it somewhere next to you. Not ideal in freeway traffic, but I've already devoted too much time to this feature. Bottom-line: It's there if you want it, but don't buy this unit based that feature.
There is plenty about the GPSMAP 60CSx I don't like, but as you can see from my strong rating it does the essentials so damned well that I just can't fault it for those shortcomings. How often will you really need to change the polling interval or the routing strategy or the time zone while you're busy surviving on the trail? You should have setup the unit for travel before you hit the trailhead. And you certainly won't need directions to the bar! Clip the GPS to your pack and leave it to do what it does best: tell you exactly where you are, where you've been, and where you're going.