Garmin GPSMAP 62s (currently running firmware 2.40). I already own a Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx so I will use that device as a reference for my evaluation of the 62s. I hereby post my findings with the device and silently hope that they will help improve the 62-serie so it can become the generally acknowledged follow-up to the 60-series.
Why I choose the 62s (and not the 62 or 62st)
There are three types of 62-serie devices: the 62, 62s and 62st. I chose the 62s instead of the 62 because I want a barometric altitude meter and a 3-axis tilt-compensated compass which the 62 lacks. Furthermore I choose the 62s above the 62st because the 62st (European model) has a ‘built-in’ topographic map of Western Europe scale 1:100.000, where I strongly prefer the 1:50.000 scaled maps. Besides I like to have the in-device memory of 1,7 GB at my own disposal (which is only 400MB for the 62st with Western Europe map).
The 62-serie devices allows you to keep your tracks on the device, and load them back when you want. I like this feature because it would allow me to put all my tracks on the device so I can always get them back and-rewalk a route, or at least that’s what I would think. So when I copied all my walking tracks (more then 100 files) to the device’ \Garmin\GPX\Archive folder, it froze indefinitely (on/off button not working any more).
I almost submitted my device for RMA, but luckily I found a working solution on this forum (Dutch).
Since that moment I placed my tracks on the external SD-card (in the \Garmin\GPX\Archive folder), so if it failed loading, I could easily remove the card and continue to use the GPS. This idea worked, but the result was not very satisfying. Because, when looking at the tracks menu, it showed me all the tracks from all the GPX files I put on the card, but all my track names (formatted as “YYYYMMDD”) and the GPX files on the filesystem named likewise, were in a random order. Besides, the folder structure I use (a folder for each type of activity and a subfolder for each year) was not honored and browsing through the long list of tracks is very slow (page up/down would have been nice). And on top of that, when I archive a file located on the external SD-card, it is automatically moved to the internal memory? Why Garmin?
Switch to USB-transfer mode
If your 62-device won’t boot any more just like mine did, you can enter usb-mass-storage-device-mode by pressing the “arrow down”-key before connection the usb-cable (which is connected to a running computer). After holding the button for approximately 30-seconds the internal memory becomes visible as drive and you can modify it again.
BirdsEye™ satellite imagery
After registering my device and entering my device’ serial number (and not the unit ID, common mistake), I was able to subscribe for a one-year subscription to BirdsEye for only € 25. After payment by creditcard Garmin Basecamp immediately allowed me to download imagery.
I found out the image quality (I selected high) was indeed very high, but downloading the imagery was very slow. I understand the servers with the imagery are located in the US, and I’m in the Netherlands, but still its too slow for a service you have to pay money for!
Another problem is the proces you need to go through to download large sums of imagery that are nicely connected to each other. What I want is to be able to specify a block of any size, which is then downloaded with high speed. After downloading I would like to select in one action what part of the image I want to send to the GPS. This is not possible. When selecting multiple blocks for download, I could not easily align them to each other.
Also, Garmin BaseCamp forces you to use their wizard which starts of by checking your subscription which of course can by just as well done once when the application is started. Besides, a block of imagery you can select to download is limited to only 75 MB per block!
Why not make it more friendly Garmin?
Another interesting comparison experiment would be turning the devices on at them same time, move them around together and compare the resulting GPX-files. I have to admin it wasn’t the most professional comparison, but it does show some unexpected differences. I used Garmin’s MapSource to calculate the properties. I did no calibration when I turned the devices on.
|GPX filesize (bytes)||173.141||256.228|
|Record interval||Most Often||Most Often|
|Barometer mode||Variable Elevation||Variable Elevation|
|Distance||8.1 Km||7.6 Km|
|Start time||2010-09-04 15:57:32||2010-09-04 15:57:27|
|Avg speed (km/h)||2||2|
|Area (sq km)||1.7||1.7|
What really makes me wonder what went wrong here is the difference in measured distance and the spikes en holes in the height graph for the 62s. I really can’t explain it, expect for the fact that the 62s is giving me results that scare me. Did I cause this with a setting? Or is it already fixed with 2.44 beta that says it “Fixed issues with inconsistent altimeter readings”? I just hope this is buggy firmware and not some buggy hardware, so it can be fixed by Garmin.
Heart rate monitor and cadence sensor
According to its manual the Garmin 62s is capable of connecting to a heart rate monitor and cadence sensor. I recently bought the Speed/Cadence Bike Sensor and a Heart Rate Monitor.
What I want with these sensors is simple: log my heart rate and cadence together with time, location and elevation data, so I can keep track of my progress with cycling. Sadly, Garmin doesn’t make it that simple. Garmin has its Garmin Training Center which is well suited for analysing all the data captured with my 62s. Getting the data there is not very easy.
In short, these are my findings:
- Mounting the cadence sensor to my bike was quite easy.
- Pairing the heart rate monitor and the cadence sensor with the 62s was also very easy.
- The first 10 minutes after turning my 62s on, my heart rate was around 254 bpm. After 10 minutes the heart rate became stable and seemed to work quite flawlesly for the rest of the logging period, except for two spikes at 42 and 45 minutes that were probably too high:
- Garmin Training Center running on Windows 7 64-bit cannot read from my 62s directly, giving me this error:
- Garmin Connect fails at reading data directly from the 62s using Google Chrome.
- The only way I could get a GPX file containing the heartrate and cadence sensor values was by manually copying the Current.gpx file from the device.
Garmin MapSource and Garmin Basecamp do not read the heart rate and cadence values from the 62s. I was however able to upload the Current.gpx file manually to Garmin Connect and analyse it.
Pros compared to GPSMAP 60 CSx:
- Quicker fix due to the ‘HotFix® satellite prediction’ (though not thoroughly tested)
- Maps look better and render a lot faster.
- Map groups can now be individually enabled or disabled.
- BirdsEye™ Satellite imagery can now be loaded onto the device
- Support for heart rate and cadance sensors (buy as seperate accessories, already ordered them).
- The ‘Trip computer’ page has a dashboard view, that can include for example an elevation graph.
- The elevation plot of each (archived) track can now be viewed on the device itself.
- The external MicroSD card can be more then 2GB (up to 16GB has been tested), however I have not verified that myself. There are forum posts about using these memory cards (Dutch). It seems that bigger sized MicroSD (SDHC?) cards did already function in the 60CSx, but Garmin has never officially confirmed that and I did not verify it.
- The device squeaks as can be seen in this YouTube video. They say the device is robust, but it doesn’t feel that way.
- Special mount needed for bicyle (different from 60-series).
- A different clipping system used for mounting the device onto something or someone.
- When switching page, there is a 1-second delay before the selected page is opened. You can force the opening of a page by pressing ‘enter’, but that implies 2 actions. Not funny when you want to quickly switch pages as I prefer.
- Browsing tracks is not very flexible and friendly. Scrolling through long pages with only tracknames (why not the GPX filenames?) without the possibility to quickly page through the tracklists. Furthermore no directory-based track-browsing.
- No datafield for temperature. The device has a temperate sensor (which can be read when in a special diagnostic mode), but you are not allowed to add it to the ‘Trip computer’.
- The sunset/sunrise time at DST changing dates bug is still present.
- Cannot connect in the ‘Garmin Training Center’ application because the 62st ‘does not have the necessary capabilities’. Why is that? The device supports a cadence and heart rate sensor!
- There are no more games on the device! I miss IRL snake! 😥
- The device is prone to crashing when you add too much files to the GPX folder.
- Custom maps created as kmz files saved to an external SD-card as explained here does not seem to work.
- BirdsEye™ Satellite imagery downloading is slow (measured with high speed broadband ISP-connection from the Netherlands) and the proces for selecting and downloading imagery with Garmin BaseCamp can definitely be improved.
- The resulting GPX files read with Garmin’ MapSource have some scary differences that I cannot yet explain. 62s has buggy firmware?
- I find it to be a bug that I cannot seem to reset my odometer (distance meter) to zero using the tripmeter’ ‘reset’-menu.
- Readings from the heart rate monitor are always wrong (too high) the first 5-10 minutes after connecting to the 62s.
- Getting the heart rate and cadence sensor readings from the device is possible, but not too friendly.
Looking at the long list of cons you might think I feel sorry for buying the device. Though I find some issues need to be addressed to increase my user experience with the 62s, I am still happy with the device. Nevertheless, most issues I have with the device are hopefully within the software and therefore the current firmware needs improvements before the 62-serie devices can be seen as a good replacement to the very successful 60-series.
- Thanks to a comment from ’60CSx con 62s’ I omitted an error in the article claiming the 62s has better GPS reception then the 60Csx. What I wanted to say is that it can get a quicker fix.
- According to user comments from ’60CSx con 62s’ “16GB Cards are also possible on the 60CSx (V4.00)“.
- Added my experience with BirdsEye™ imagery.
- Added a GPX-comparison to the article.
- Added my experience with the heart rate monitor and cadence sensor.