Author Topic: OS Maps on eTrex 32x  (Read 968 times)

Bernster

  • ACME (Herts Branch)
OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« on: September 14, 2020, 08:03:45 pm »
I'm hoping to tap the forum's collective knowledge on whether it's worth investing in OS maps for an eTrex - I'm in the market for an eTrex 32x as an upgrade to my existing eTrex 20 (the ability to record my HR as well as the barometric altimeter are the main reasons for this, although an annoying scratch on the screen of my existing device is a factor). I'm very much sold on the merits of the eTrex range, and I know it works well for the navigation purposes I use it for, which is very much following the line on the map in a North up orientation, plus it's bombproof and takes AA batteries.

I've been using OSM for my mapping on the eTrex 20, and whilst these are perfectly functional for navigating on roads, the level of detail I tend to find displayed is frustrating at best (e.g. I've been next to a fairly major town, which the device doesn't tell me the name of, but will tell me the name of a nearby primary school or line of national grid pylons). It might be that I've not got it set up as I should - I largely based it on Frankly Frankie's online guide, but would it be an improvement to move to OS 1:50000 mapping? I appreciate that these only work North up (fine with me), but would I get any benefit from the large amount of detail they contain on the relatively small screen of the 32x? I love paper OS maps, and have spent many years as a youngster touring with them strapped to my bars - the ability to get a good idea of the landscape, understand what things are, where I am and what is coming up in terms of hills / terrain is really useful.

Any views / feedback would be much appreciated, I'm very much undecided, so happy to be convinced either way.  :thumbsup:

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2020, 08:15:56 pm »
I obtained a pirate copy of the OS mapping for my eTrex30 many years ago, and it's been on my SD card ever since.  I've probably used it half a dozen times.

As it's a bitmap, it ties you into 'north up' mode (otherwise the text appears upside-down when you face south).  More problematic is the relatively low resolution - it simply doesn't show the detail of things like road junctions accurately enough to work out (for example) which exit you need while you're riding round a roundabout or negotiating a compound junction in a town centre.  Also, as it has more to render, it's also noticeably slower at panning/zooming/rotating than the vector maps.

On the other hand, it's a real OS map.  Second to none for topographic features.  And (if you're asking this question) you probably have an intuitive sense of what all the symbols and colours mean.

I concluded that it's quite good for walking in the countryside, and some off-road cycling, but an vector map like OSM or the old Garmin City Navigator was better for road cycling / driving, and probably walking in urban areas (though there are strong arguments for the likes of Google Maps for that).

In reality, what I tend to do is use my eTrex with vector mapping, and occasionally whip out Viewranger on my tablet or smartphone to refer to a proper OS map (usually 1:50k, but I can download 1:25k tiles when necessary) when I want the extra detail or 'big picture' view.  These devices have bigger, higher resolution screens and much faster CPUs, which makes for a much more pleasant OS map experience.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2020, 08:22:55 pm »
The map on your Garmin isn’t OSM. It’s OSM data converted into Garmin format. So whether it shows you the name of a town and at what zoom levels will be down to who created it, not because OSM doesn’t know a town is there. If you are zoomed in enough to see tertiary and residential roads then I wouldn’t expect a town name to appear anyway.

As to OS. Apart from cost I think an etrex  screen is just a tad too small to make the most of OS mapping.

With either map I wouldn’t say either was suitable for getting overviews on an eTrex . A page ripped out a road atlas would be better for that.

Bernster

  • ACME (Herts Branch)
Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2020, 08:29:32 pm »
Thanks for the quick replies - very helpful! I think that's pretty much made my mind up - although the 32x has a 240 x 320 pixel screen vs 176 x 220 for the 20 or 30 (albeit the same dimensions), it does still sound like the screen isn't going big enough to do the OS maps justice.

Regarding the OSM mapping Phil, I can't seem to get town names regardless of how far out I zoom - based on what you're saying, should I look to re-install my OSM mapping with a different version?

Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2020, 08:38:49 pm »
If you can find suitable ones, that show the names when zoomed further out, that suits you otherwise. I create my own maps (from the raw OSM data) for my etrex so I can have it just how I want it. But that’s not within everyones skill or knowledge.  I’m in the process of reworking them for my etrex at the moment as my needs / preferences have changed.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Eating all the pies and drinking all the tea.
Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2020, 08:54:24 pm »
OS maps are a confluence of beauty and practicality. I'd stick with your Garmin map but take a paper OS map or failing that, this Viewranger thing (which I've never used so can't really comment on... )
Faster than a walk, slower than a train, often slightly higher than a person. (David Byrne)

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2020, 09:03:36 pm »
OS maps are a confluence of beauty and practicality. I'd stick with your Garmin map but take a paper OS map or failing that, this Viewranger thing (which I've never used so can't really comment on... )

There are functionally equivalent alternatives, including the rather long-in-the-tooth Memory Map and the OS's own app.  I can only say that Viewranger had the best Android app when I signed up.

Having all the OS maps in your pocket is a wonderful thing.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2020, 10:12:39 pm »
I have subscription OS on the phone, which works very well for walking (I'll carry a paper map if I'm unfamiliar with the area).  As above, I think it would be of limited use on the Garmins (20 & 30x).  My preference for OSM is the compilations from http://www.openfietsmap.nl/.  I use the light versions for speed of loading. 

Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2020, 11:34:04 pm »
I've got 1:50k OS maps (Landranger) that I usually use on a GPSMap 64s, but I have also used the card in a 30x.
I do find them useful, but generally switch over to OSM maps for in-town use (I've got OS on card, and OSM in internal memory).
They are good between scalebar = 200m (though the screen area is a bit restrictive) and scalebar = 3 km (by which time you are looking at 1:250k maps).
The 64s having a bigger screen is a major factor in me using that rather than the 30x, though the extra buttons on the front also make it more easily usable. Even on the 64s, the screen area is small, but I do find it generally adequate for making up a route as I go along. I've also got OS maps on the phone, can stop to look at them if I want a larger view.

Bernster

  • ACME (Herts Branch)
Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #9 on: September 15, 2020, 09:55:08 am »
Some really useful responses - I hadn't considered the 64s (64sx now) as an option, and can see the screen is considerably bigger than the 32x, but the 32x has better resolution 240 x 320 vs 160 x 240 pixels. Either way I think the message that everyone is giving me is that I shouldn't be considering OS maps on these devices, which is absolutely fine. I've used the Explorer / Landranger maps on the OS app on my Dad's smartphone, and it works very well, so will likely invest in this as it'll get plenty of use outside of cycling too.

Regarding the OSM maps, I'll have a look at http://www.openfietsmap.nl/ - thanks for the tip Ian.

Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2020, 09:59:18 am »
I have subscription OS on the phone, which works very well for walking (I'll carry a paper map if I'm unfamiliar with the area).  As above, I think it would be of limited use on the Garmins (20 & 30x).  My preference for OSM is the compilations from http://www.openfietsmap.nl/.  I use the light versions for speed of loading.

+1 to this. Having OS maps on the phone is really useful. I use a Garmin 30 and it came with a small area of OS map which I turned off pretty quickly after getting. By the time you need to refer to an OS map on a bike ride you have stopped anyway so there's no hassle pulling your phone out and having a quick look for the big picture view an OS provides even on a phone screen.
Duct tape is magic and should be worshipped

frankly frankie

  • I kid you not
    • Fuchsiaphile
Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2020, 11:09:50 am »
Some really useful responses - I hadn't considered the 64s (64sx now) as an option, and can see the screen is considerably bigger than the 32x, but the 32x has better resolution 240 x 320 vs 160 x 240 pixels. Either way I think the message that everyone is giving me is that I shouldn't be considering OS maps on these devices, which is absolutely fine. I've used the Explorer / Landranger maps on the OS app on my Dad's smartphone, and it works very well, so will likely invest in this as it'll get plenty of use outside of cycling too.

Regarding the OSM maps, I'll have a look at http://www.openfietsmap.nl/ - thanks for the tip Ian.

This useful page shows what OS maps look like in practice (though bear in mind those screendumps are much brighter than you would see in real life):
https://www.scarletfire.co.uk/maps-comparison-city-navigator-and-os-discoverer/

I find the higher resolution 240x320 vs 160x240 is a disadvantage in practice (I have Etrexes of both types) - more resolution simply doesn't translate to more detail nor any change in scale, it just makes some lines less visible because a road for example that is rendered as 2px wide is a thinner line on the higher-rez screen.  Also (as implemented) the higher-rez screen is a bit dimmer when viewed without backlight - the native grey backround is a bit darker.  That's not an inevitable result of higher resolution but as implemented it has just worked out that way.  I find my high-rez units are unreadable without backlight.  The only plus to higher-rez might be that font smoothing works a bit better.  Anyway, buying a new unit you probably don't have a choice.
you only live but once, and when you're dead you're done, so let the good times roll

Bernster

  • ACME (Herts Branch)
Re: OS Maps on eTrex 32x
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2020, 11:54:15 am »
Thanks Frankie - it's good to hear some feedback on the relative performance of the screens on the 20/30 vs. 22x/32x from someone who has used both. Based on this, it might just be a case of putting a better set of maps on my existing 20, living with the scratch on the screen, and without the HR and altimeter data... or maybe sourcing a second hand 30.