Review: Magellan Explorist GPS From Makers Of Navman Is More Than Just A Sat-Nav

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An in-built camera, compass, high-sensitivity sat-nav, topographical maps, geocaching, media playing and tracking makes this off-road navigator more than just a GPS. The Magellan eXplorist 610 is a survival tool for the modern man versing wild.

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The eXplorist 610 is a tough-built GPS navigator for on and off the road, though makes its star performance out in the open and on foot. The AA battery-operated device is kitted with tools tailored for the open-world explorer including waypoint setting, geocaching, breadcrumb following (for tracking back over your own footsteps so you can’t get lost) and recording your own progress including routes, times and general stats on the go.

The eXplorist houses a 3.2 megapixel camera with autofocus to shoot standard camera-phone fodder, but the perk comes from geotagging. Normally only a feature of high-end weatherproof digicams, the eXplorist offers geotagging for video, pictures and audio on the in-built microphone to save and share memories from your own adventures. Expandable memory is included to push up the amount of digital media storable on the unit which can then be shared online.

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In-built speaker, microphone and camera

The user interface is simple and buttons are sensitive despite being a resistive touch screen (note that as an outdoor GPS rather than just a typical in-car unit, the resistive touch is actually welcomed over capacitive so that the screen is functional even with gloves on). The layout of functions resembles the generic smartphone application layout, with a similar time, battery, reception and other notices showing up on the top panel of the screen.

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Extensive navigation info is compiled and displayed simply on an easy-to-use interface

The ‘navigate to…’ function brings up a customisable panel that users can assign locations to, whether they be set addresses, searches, general locations or even other functions like the compass or camera.

 

Navigation is fluid thanks to the high-sensitivity GPS receiver, magnetic compass and barometric altimeter that all run with precision. The compass runs independently of GPS signal to ensure positioning and direction are always logged by the device. The hardware doesn’t always keep the unit running smooth though, and there is a slight lag between page transitions when clicking different buttons of the screen.

The unit is quite weighty and cumbersome because of its hard shell and shape, though this works can also work in its favour. The rounded backing makes it more convenient to hold in the hand than a typical, flat, rectangular unit, and the bulky construction aids it from unwanted smashes. An open loop around the bottom allows users to strap the device to a rope, string, lanyard, carabina, etc, so it doesn’t get lost in the bush.

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The chunky, rounded design doesn’t make it very pocketable, but does sit well in the hand

The 610 features the Summit Series of topographic maps which feature contour lines and levels of elevation to properly judge mountainous terrain as well as adding camping grounds and the like as part of the ‘points of interests’ section of the GPS’ menu.

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The function menu is simple yet extensive

For those who like to brag about their travels, there’s a geocaching feature on top of all the geotagging functions. Geocaching is a virtual ‘hide and seek’ where users in the real world mark a location’s co-ordinates as a landmark for others to track. Here they can leave a physical token to find, or just the area itself. Travellers can log their findings and comments on the geocache, and the eXplorist helps users search through and find thousands of these.

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The waterproof packing locks on to seal away the batteries and miniSD storage

The eXplorist doesn’t match up against other sat-navs for in-car performance because of the lack of road-specific additives like lane assistance and the myriad of other functions that flood GPS devices. It’s not helped by the $699 price point either that pushes it further into the shadows. For turn-by-turn instructions, you’ll have to upgrade to the 710 for an extra $50. But for the explorers out there, the eXplorist has enough adventure-centric perks to make it a travel must that does more than a road-imprisoned sat-nav can.

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