My Thoughts

I've been using my new Magellan Explorist 210 now for a few days and figured I may as well give the folks here my personal opinion on this unit after using it to find over 75 caches with it.

The Bad

First the negatives: The memory is limited since it doesn't have SD-card capability . . . but at the same time I was able to easily load up all of my Maine map from Mapsend Direct Route and still have plenty of memory to spare. The lack of a SD card could be a negative however to folks who travel a lot.

This unit is black-and-white. Since my main GPSr is a color Magellan Meridian going with a black-and-white screen sometimes feels like a step backwards. That said, I bought this unit as a back-up GPSr and for use when geocaching with others. While I personally like color, I suppose it may not be a real issue for folks who are accustomed to black-and-white screens . . . for me geographical features on the maps don't "pop" out as easily though.

The Explorist210 also doesn't have as many gee-whiz screens . . . although once again it has everything I want and need -- a compass, map, satellite screen and the general information page (i.e. coords, accuracy, time/date, etc.)

OK, I'll admit most of the fore-mentioned items are rather nit-picky and to be quite honest those "negatives" don't really bother me. There are a couple of true drawbacks to this GPSr however that do prove to be a minor source of irritation at times.

1) The GPSr is small which is both a blessing and a curse. My Magellan Meridian feels like a brick compared to the Explorist . . . the smaller size of the Explorist is nice while hiking or carrying it around all day, but to make the unit so small the buttons were also shrunk down in size. For a guy like me with fat fingers the buttons and joystick (especially the joystick) are not always easy to manipulate . . . especially while on the fly (i.e. such as walking or driving.)

2) To remove the batteries it's a good idea to carry around a dime, quarter or penny. Opening the battery case can be a challenge . . . after awhile I found that using my spare change to open the screw which holds in the battery case door is much easier than trying to manipulate the very tiny and at times difficult to access screw. I would blame it on my fat fingers once again, but even my 15-year-old brother who barely has an ounce of fat on him had problems opening the door until I clued him into the idea of using spare change.

The Positives

So those are the negatives. Sounds like I hate the Explorist 210, huh? Actually, just the opposite. This GPSr has some great features and seems to perform much, much better than my fairly faithful Magellan Meridian.

Probably the chief advantage is that you get a lot for the money in buying the Explorist 210. For $149.99 at Circuit City (cheaper at some on-line stores even . . . I just wanted to buy this unit right away) you get a GPS that has 22 MB of memory and mapping capability. For these reasons alone I opted to not buy the cheaper 200 model.

At one point I was even considering paying a bit more for some of the color models, but in the end I opted to not do so since I was buying this as a "back-up" model and color units were more expensive . . . plus I like the idea of the 210 being powered by AA batteries and not the lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack in the color units (because you can always find or buy AA batteries at even the smallest and most remote general store if need be.)

Another reason I opted for this unit was the size . . . which as mentioned can be a good thing or a bad thing. While it can be frustrating at times to use the small buttons, the weight difference between this GPSr and my older Magellan Meridian is startling . . . you can drop the Explorist 210 in your pocket and almost forget it's there.

Perhaps the best thing I like about the Explorist 210 is that I have found this unit to be incredibly accurate. Now, don't get me wrong, I love my Magellan Meridian, but at times (and these times were infrequent) I found the Meridian's accuracy to not be so accurate. I suppose I could chaulk this up to a geocacher having coords that were not right on the mark or maybe a "bad" satellite day, tree cover, solar spots, or what-have-you. However, on a recent trip using both my Meridian and Explorist 210 side by side there was a notable difference in the accuracy of the two units . . . and on a couple of occasions the Explorist 210 was pointing the way to the cache while the Meridian was out in left field (literally in one case . . . the Explorist was pointing to an area 20 feet or so from a baseball dug-out where the cache was located while the Meridian was directing me to the outfield.) Moreover, on several occasions the Explorist 210 had an accuracy that was almost uncanny with it bringing me to within a foot of the cache.

Final Thoughts

Ironically, I bought the Explorist as a "back-up" GPSr, but recently I have found myself using it more often then the Meridian while geocaching . . . mainly due to the accuracy. In fact, on a recent trip with my brother I was going to use the Meridian while letting him use the Explorist. However, due to the ease of use in downloading geocaches directly to the GPS, the dead-on accuracy and light-weight I instead kept the Meridian right inside the 4Runner and relied almost exclusively on the Explorist.

While I don't believe I will be selling or tossing the Meridian (we've had too many good memories together) I found that using the Meridian inside the vehicle for getting me to the cache parking area and then using the Explorist to find the actual cache seems to work best . . . and in fact that's what I'm planning to do in the future.

So long story, short. I am pleased with the Explorist 210. I wish the buttons were a bit bigger and the battery compartment was easier to open and in an ideal world it would have a color screen, but hey, for $150 I've got a map-capable GPSr that is both light-weight and wicked accurate so I really can't complain.