Author Topic: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?  (Read 6197 times)

Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« on: April 11, 2012, 11:36:39 am »
Morning
I'm a complete ludite when it comes to modern technology and just about to embark on my first GPS purchase.
Budget is about £150 so was looking at Etrex 20/ 30 or Vista HCX - this is on Amazon at thr moment at a bargainous £99!
Basically want confirmation that the Vista would be a good beginners choice with enough features to keep me going when I get in to it. Main use would be for audax routing and giving directions and tracking rides for DIY's.

Also is there a mount for a Vista to fit to the stem rather than the handlebar as this mouniting is a bit  neater?
Thanks for any feedback

Cheers
Chris

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2012, 11:51:42 am »
I've got the Vista HcX and have had it for several years. I find it very useful.

I use openstreetmaps on it, which is easily downloadable from various websites (our own AndyGates does a map of the UK which is very good).

http://www.bikehike.co.uk/mapview.php?lnk=http://peter.chesspod.com/routes/rutland.gpx is a track I've prepared for this coming weekend which is easily downloadable from the PC using free software.

I use one of these cable tied to the bars (could just as easily go on the stem)

http://www.gpscity.com/ram-mount-bike-mount-plastic-bracket-rap274-1bb.html

with one of these underneath it to act as cushioning

http://www.gpscity.com/ram-mount-bike-mount-medium-rubber-spacer-rap274-1bbra.html

one of these which bayonet-fixes into the first part

http://www.gpscity.com/ram-mount-diamond-ez-on-off-pin-connector-rap-274-1b3.html

and a cradle which bolts on and is purpose built for the Etrex.

http://www.gpscity.com/ram-mount-garmin-etrex-color-cradle-ram-hol-ga16u.html

I've never had a mishap in thousands of miles.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

plum

Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2012, 11:55:40 am »
Vista is a good choice although doesn't have much advantage over the Legend, sometimes you can save £20 or so by changing down.

I had a stem mount but found it impractical. The way the buttons are placed on my Legend [same as the Vista] I find it more ergonomic/usable on the bars nearer to the hand that operates it. Plus using a standard bar mount projects it forwards of your field of view which for me at least makes it easier to use, on the stem you're having to look down all the time to read it.

Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2012, 01:14:49 pm »
Legend and Vista are now obsolete, being replaced by 20 and 30.  But they do the job, and being obsolete are being sold off fairly cheaply.  For some reason the Vista is currently available more cheaply than the lower spec Legend.

I've had a Legend for several years, and have just bought a Vista (down to £90 briefly at Amazon!) as a backup.  Given FF's comments here these older devices seem to be a bit better than the newer machines for our cycling purposes.  I'm sure the newer devices have other benefits.

bloomers100

  • ACME's Head of Sexual Health and Family Planning
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #4 on: April 11, 2012, 01:34:21 pm »
I had a fellow arrow rider extolling the virtues of these on the train on the way home on saturday. Now it seems I am capable of 24 hr rides my Edge ain't gonna cut it without a power pack which is a faf. The OP is well timed.

I think at that price its worth a punt. I have OSM in the edge and its good considering it is free, occasionally it will have a priority wrong on a junction or suggest a left turn where in fact it is a continuation but that is manageable.

Being able to put new batteries in is a major plus as far as I can see.

Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2012, 01:41:43 pm »
I have the legend. On the Arrow it was turned on constantly, with just enough backlight to make it visible. Ran for 22hrs on one set of 2900mAh AA batteries.
<i>Marmite slave</i>

plum

Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2012, 01:53:00 pm »
I think that Wowbagger's mounting solution looks pretty over the top.

This is what I've got mine on with. New backplate with the catch to fit the mount, the bar mount is too small so I cut it in half and cable tied it on, then the GPS just snicks in and out like a light. Many thousands of miles with no issues.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Garmin-eTrex-Handlebar-Mount-Bracket/dp/B00004VX15/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334148556&sr=8-1

Plus the bar mount can be bought separately, easy to fit one to each bike if you have more than one.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2012, 03:11:59 pm »
I think that Wowbagger's mounting solution looks pretty over the top.

I'm generally a fan of over-engineering, but from experience I'm inclined to agree.  I have several of the standard Garmin handlebar brackets which I've been using since the Yellow eTrex days.  In that time I've done plenty of riding over high-vibration surfaces, and had several crashes, not to mention various accidental kickings of the derailleur-post mounted eTrex on my recumbent, and 'helpful' idiots on trains think it's a sensible thing to lift the bike by (yes, really - if it's not the Garmin, it's the lights - some people have no mechanical sympathy).

In that time, the worst I've had was a chunk of the waterproof rubber coating on the Vista's battery cover be torn off (Garmin supplied a replacement free of charge), and the whole unit somehow cleanly detach when I landed on it crotch-first in a crash.  I reckon that as long as you hook the lanyard round the bars as insurance, it's perfectly adequate, and low-faff.

I'd go for the Wowbagger solution if I wanted to mount it on a stem, thobut.

Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2012, 05:28:43 pm »
I think that Wowbagger's mounting solution looks pretty over the top.

This is what I've got mine on with. New backplate with the catch to fit the mount, the bar mount is too small so I cut it in half and cable tied it on, then the GPS just snicks in and out like a light. Many thousands of miles with no issues.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Garmin-eTrex-Handlebar-Mount-Bracket/dp/B00004VX15/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334148556&sr=8-1

Plus the bar mount can be bought separately, easy to fit one to each bike if you have more than one.

Not sure that this works for the HCX. Use the adaptor supplied screw to back of unit and slot into bar clamp normal or oversize.
Get a bicycle. You will never regret it, if you live- Mark Twain

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2012, 05:56:04 pm »
Given FF's comments here these older devices seem to be a bit better than the newer machines for our cycling purposes.  I'm sure the newer devices have other benefits.

It's true, I do think the Vista or Legend are in some ways better than the newer E20/30, and some of the differences just happen to fit in with the way I use a GPS, which makes the older models feel 'better' to me.

However, given this OP
I'm a complete ludite when it comes to modern technology ...
Basically want confirmation that the Vista would be a good beginners choice with enough features to keep me going when I get in to it.
There's no question in my mind that the E20/30 is more beginner-friendly, with the inevitable learning curve much less steep.  Especially regarding connection and transfer from/to the PC.
And it's a bit more future-proof.

However, the price differential is very significant!

my Etrex 30 review (pdf file)
my 'Setting up a Legend / Vista' page
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.

plum

Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2012, 06:03:31 pm »
Ah sorry if that's the wrong link. Doesn't change the point though, the right backplate is still an easier way to bar mount the gps.

Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #11 on: April 12, 2012, 08:16:17 am »
Thanks for all your replies. Just a couple of questions, probably aimed at Frank.

Frank - I've read a few posts from you regarding the Vista and have been very informative. You say the new ones are more future proof. How long has the Vista been around and has the technology really moved on that much with the new Etrex's? You also said in one post that you would use the Etrex 30 as a back up and be inclined to buy a new Vista in the future. Is this just personal preference or do you think for cycling the Vista is more user friendly?

Thanks

Chris

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #12 on: April 12, 2012, 01:10:42 pm »
Its just my personal preference.
Everyone seems to use their GPS in a slightly different way.  The way I use mine plays to the strengths of the old Etrexes.  Or you could put it the other way, I've been 'trained' by continued use of the Etrex over many years, to navigate in a certain way.  And, faced with the newer models, find myself in an 'old dog new tricks' situation.  Hence my preference (and yes, I too have just bought another Vista at the £90 price).

If you have a clean sheet and this is your first GPS, then IMO there would be some advantages to getting a newer model, and not saddling yourself with the idiosyncrasies of the older types.  All Garmin's current map-based leisure GPSs have a UI in common, and are 95% the same apart from the packaging - except the Legend and Vista.  These devices seem to me to have a half-life of about 4 years, so whereas in the past you could buy a Vista knowing that there's a big user base out there, looking to the future that user base will consist mainly of people with the newer models all very similar).

Oh, and BTW - stem-mounting is over-rated.  These screens are quite dim in daylight and getting the viewing angle right is a big help.  Stem-mounting prevent you from doing this.  (Plus in my case, the thing would soon be swamped in salty sweat.  :sick:)  Anyway, the mount for the E30 can do stem or bars (and is a very secure system, better than the old one).

 
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.

PaulF

  • "World's Scariest Barman"
  • It's only impossible if you stop to think about it
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #13 on: April 12, 2012, 01:16:12 pm »
I think that Wowbagger's mounting solution looks pretty over the top.

This is what I've got mine on with. New backplate with the catch to fit the mount, the bar mount is too small so I cut it in half and cable tied it on, then the GPS just snicks in and out like a light. Many thousands of miles with no issues.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Garmin-eTrex-Handlebar-Mount-Bracket/dp/B00004VX15/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1334148556&sr=8-1

Plus the bar mount can be bought separately, easy to fit one to each bike if you have more than one.

They do make a mount for oversized bars to avoid bracket butchery :)

simonp

  • Omnomnomnipotent.
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #14 on: April 12, 2012, 01:25:34 pm »
Battery life of the eTrex Vista HCX is considerably better than an Edge, and once flat you can change them. By using backlight only from dusk -> dawn, set to come on automatically when arriving at waypoints (i.e. turns) or when pressing buttons, I still had around 1/3 charge left after the arrow, using freshly charged relatively new 2850 batteries - so that's 25h runtime and some.

Baron Brymbo von Pickelhaube

  • Adel auf dem Radel
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #15 on: April 12, 2012, 08:57:30 pm »
I use one of these cable tied to the bars (could just as easily go on the stem)
...
with one of these underneath it to act as cushioning
...
one of these which bayonet-fixes into the first part
...
and a cradle which bolts on and is purpose built for the Etrex.
Baggie, do you have any pictures of this setup?  I'd be interested in knowing how the height of the stack you describe compares with that of the bodge-the-cradle DIY mount at http://yacf.co.uk/forum/index.php?topic=13073.0

I assume the Etrex lives in the cradle and you remove the cradle+bayonet from the bars.  In the DIY version you have to insert/remove the Etrex from the cradle to take the unit from the bars.  I have the DIY version and am very careful about insertion/removal for fear of damaging the rubber band which surrounds the unit.
The present is a foreign country: they do things differently here.

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #16 on: April 12, 2012, 11:43:16 pm »
http://peter.chesspod.com/gallery/v/Bicycles/2012/Image0195.jpg.html shows a view of it fitted to the Mercian in a recent ride. Click the image to get a bigger version.



The mount



The back of the Garmin showing the bayonet fitting



The great thing about this is that you don't have to have a Garmin cradle on every bike, just the bracket the bayonet fitting goes into - unless PDM cuts the cable ties every time and refits it when he needs it.

In the component linked to by plum, that spare back plate doesn't actually fit an Etrex. I know - I've got one. The bar mount fits the original back plate, but mine broke and I couldn't find a source for a new one. Also, that Etrex backplate mount is notorious for wobbling about.

The bayonet fitting is a lot neater and there's less attached to your bike when you are not using the Garmin. It's also rock solid. I loop the cord round the bars for safety but I've never had it jump out of the mount, unlike the original fitting, when it was quite a regular occurrence.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #17 on: April 13, 2012, 12:16:28 am »
Also, that Etrex backplate mount is notorious for wobbling about.

I loop the cord round the bars for safety but I've never had it jump out of the mount, unlike the original fitting, when it was quite a regular occurrence.

FWIW, both of these problems are easily mitigated by the addition of a single layer of gaffer tape to the channel of the bracket.  This cures the wobble, and as I say, the only time it's ever ejected from the mount without manual intervention was when I landed on it in crash: I got a bruise on the inside of my thigh, the bracket rotated about 45 degrees around the bar, and the eTrex was un-damaged.


Quote
In the component linked to by plum, that spare back plate doesn't actually fit an Etrex. I know - I've got one.

I've got one (and previously owned another) that it fits just fine:  The spare backplate supplied with the handlebar mount fits the non-'x' eTrexes - ie. those without a memory card slot in a waterproof battery compartment (the older models had sealed contacts and simply allowed the batteries to get wet when immersed).  The 'x' models are supplied with a waterproof cover with a threaded hole for the (supplied) compatible clip.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Wowbagger

  • Dez's butler
    • Musings of a Gentleman Cyclist
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #18 on: April 13, 2012, 12:18:59 am »
Ah - I didn't know there were two models. Mine's got the memory card slot in the back. When I ordered the spare bar mount I was very puzzled that the hard plastic back cover just didn't fit.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #19 on: April 13, 2012, 12:47:30 am »
It's a good thing that it doesn't, really, otherwise that would be a great way to inadvertently drown one.

The original eTrexes were somewhat thinner, a shape that made sense for a device with more in common with a compass than a map.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

bloomers100

  • ACME's Head of Sexual Health and Family Planning
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #20 on: April 19, 2012, 06:42:33 pm »
Mine has arrived, I bought the garmin bike mount pack, there seems to be something in the box itself also
, I'll report back later.

Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #21 on: April 19, 2012, 09:54:18 pm »
See Kim's post for what's in the box, and why the battery cover that comes with the mount won't fit an HCx.

bloomers100

  • ACME's Head of Sexual Health and Family Planning
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #22 on: April 19, 2012, 10:03:18 pm »
Yep got that but everything in the box fits the bar mount. I just have a spare back cover.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #23 on: April 19, 2012, 10:07:46 pm »
That's right.  A spare back cover that doesn't fit your eTrex, but does fit those that aren't supplied with a clip.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: Etrex Vista HCX - Good Choice?
« Reply #24 on: April 20, 2012, 09:15:58 am »
I just have a spare back cover.

Don't we all.
The trick (for future reference, not that these things will be around for much longer) is simply to buy the bar mount on its own, without the backplate.  Cheaper, too!
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Garmin-Large-Diameter-Adaptor-25-30mm/dp/B00030F6OC/ref=pd_cp_ce_1
It's not dark yet but it's getting there.