Garmin Dakota 20
Before setting out on our current cycle tour we had always navigated fairly successfully with a mixture of paper maps and advice from locals if (when) we got lost. When travelling through the countryside we rarely had problems but if we had to navigate a large city centre we usually got lost at some point. Some people could argue that getting lost along the way is all part of the fun of cycle touring but with visions of trying to navigate a foreign city with little language and no detailed map I decided to investigate the options for a GPS.
As my first port of call for advice about GPS devices I started a discussion thread on the London CTC forum asking for advice from members about their experiences good and bad with different devices. From this I was left with the impression that I wanted a basic device with navigation as my main requirement rather than advanced features like cadence and hear rate monitor.
A few weeks later we had a chance to visit the annual London Cycle Show where all the major GPS manufacturers had stands demonstrating their product range. Garmin was the biggest player with a very wide range of handsets giving me a chance to actually see and play with a few different handsets. The Dakota 20 immediately stood out to me with its touch screen interface and full colour mapping it looked very similar to car based GPS devices I had seen.
After a little more research online and reading reviews comparing the older eTrex and the Dakota I decided to go for the Dakota as although it was more expensive that the eTrex I felt that it had a more readable screen and I really liked the ease of use the touch screen provided.
How has it performed (31/08/2010)? A few weeks back while cycling along the Danube in Serbia our GPS stopped working freezing at the Garmin logo during the boot sequence. Reading online this seems like a fairly common issue however my problem is slightly worse than those reported online as I can't even force my GPS into Mass Storage Mode which is a possible resolution to problems when booting. After a call with Garmin Support in the UK they have advised me that I can return the device and if it is found to be faulty they will replace it which is great news; however I need a fixed address for any replacement to be delivered to. Seems like this is a repair job that might have to wait until we are holed up somewhere for the winter.
Replacement Update (23/10/2010)? After we were settled in Istanbul for the winter I contacted Garmin Support to arrange to ship it back for inspection. They were once again really helpful explaining what I needed to do and how long it would take to go through their inspection process. Around three weeks after shipping it back to them I had a replacement in my hands and was trying to remember what colour setting I had for my previous background on the device. So all in all I'm very happy with the support from Garmin on the device, my only nervousness is that the problem I had with my first device might recur with the replacement. Having travelled for three months with no GPS I at least know we can navigate OK even if we are not able to easily keep track of our exact routing.