OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

Finweek English Edition - - Communication & Technology - SI­MON DIN­GLE si­mond@fin­week.co.za

GARMIN IS TAR­GET­ING a niche mar­ket for GPS nav­i­ga­tion de­vices with its range of Ore­gon prod­ucts. They’re aimed at out­door types looking for all-round GPS de­vices, whether geo­caching, hik­ing, hunt­ing, fish­ing, in the 4x4 or on the boat.

The Ore­gon 300 sent for test­ing is a sturdy de­vice with a rub­berised ex­te­rior. It’s wa­ter re­sis­tant and uses nor­mal AA pen­light bat­ter­ies, which Garmin claims pro­vide 16 hours of bat­tery life. I used recharge­able bat­ter­ies to test the de­vice and found I could eas­ily use it all day without hav­ing to recharge. How­ever, you’d be wise to carry spare bat­ter­ies on long hikes and trips in the bush.

The Ore­gon 300 has five cus­tomis­able modes for var­i­ous out­door ac­tiv­i­ties: au­to­mo­tive, marine, recre­ation, fit­ness or geo­caching. The last-men­tioned is a grow­ing sport, in which peo­ple use GPS de­vices to seek out caches left in lo­ca­tions by other geo­cachers. Once found you fol­low the in­struc­tions in the cache, such as leav­ing be­hind a gift for the next geo­cacher, or sim­ply sign­ing a log­book.

The Ore­gon 300 can be used to list caches in a spe­cific area, down­load in­for­ma­tion, pro­vide hints for find­ing caches, al­lows you to track caches you’ve al­ready found and it even con­grat­u­lates you when you dis­cover one. The de­vice also has a dig­i­tal com­pass and a baro­met­ric al­time­ter that tracks changes in pres­sure to pin­point pre­cise alti­tude – fan­tas­tic for mak­ing clever com­ments while hik­ing in a group. Its screen is de­signed for out­door use and even looks good in di­rect sun­light. How­ever, in low light con­di­tions I found the max­i­mum bright­ness set­ting was just a lit­tle too low.

The only real down­side of the Ore­gon 300 is its high price. But if you’re se­ri­ous about your out­door hob­bies, then I’m sure it can be jus­ti­fied. Or you could mo­ti­vate one for Fathers’ (or Moth­ers’) Day.

PRICE: R6 930

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