So you fancy a spot of Geocaching, but at the same time don't want to actually do any real thinking about it? Garmin hopes it has just the answer with the Garmin Oregon 400t. But is this the must-have GPS for treks? We head out and about to find out.
Robust is probably the best way to describe the design of the 400t. It's certainly good enough to be dropped (we know, we tried) with a hard, but rubberised casing protecting all the gubbins inside. Indented on the front is a 3-inch touchscreen display while the on/off button, USB socket and battery release catch are the only other elements that mark the flush design.
Lifting the battery release catch reveals two AA batteries. The inclusion of AA batteries rather than a purpose built lithium-ion offering is welcomed as it means you don't need to find a power supply - ideal for when you're far from home or civilisation.
When it comes to controlling the Oregon 400t it's all via the touchscreen, not great if it’s cold as you'll have to loose the gloves, however the screen is responsive. Features are either listed six to a screen with the ability to scroll through them very much like the iPhone, or in a list format top to bottom.
Scrolling through the menu system is very easy thanks to the up down buttons at the bottom of the screen and it's just a shame that in bright lighting conditions you won't be able to see it. The screen is so dull (probably in an attempt to save battery power) that you find most of the time you'll be trying to hide the device in the shadow of your jacket just to see what's going on.
Get past the screen limitations and you've a very easy to use interface that offers loads of features.
Core to the product of course is the mapping system that allows you multiple views of your location down to 20ft. If the top down approach isn't for you, the 400t also offers a 3D view as well as other features like Elevation Plot, the ability to find nearby Points Of Interest, and set waypoints to name but a few.
Mapping is 3D worldwide, but you can also buy add-ons as microSD cards for street mapping ( £79.99), marine mapping and topographic maps.
For those who like geocaching, there is a geocaching.com app included so you can send geocache locations straight to your handset. You'll need to download a plug-in from Garmin (listed in the manual) but once that's done all that is left for you to do is connect the 400t to the computer.
Yes the download is Mac, PC and Linux compatible and once installed the app then allows you to manage your caches. It's is incredibly easy, incredibly lazy, but best of all ditches the need to carry around scrapes of paper, or learning how to type in a lat/long coordinate into the thing (you can do that as well). Those looking to go old school also get a digital compass as well.
Besides the GPS functionalities of the handset the Oregon 400t also offers an image viewer (randomly) a calendar, calculator, sun and moon times, alarm clock, stopwatch and best times to fish and hunt on any given day - love it.
Okay, so it costs £400 which might put some off the Garmin Oregon 400t, however it’s so packed with features that we can't see why you wouldn't want this if you are heading off into the wilds, be it Berkshire or remotest Africa.
The interface is very easy and very "consumer" friendly to use while those into geocaching will just love the geocaching app: it makes it so easy.
That's said its not all oohs and arhs. The screen, although very responsive to touch, is very dull. It's a real down point to the device that is otherwise very good.
If you aren't too worried about the low light screen this is worth checking out, but it's what stops it from getting a 9/10.