I have never owned a handheld Garmin. I have always opted for automobile navigators or smartphone apps. I have recently started thinking about getting a handheld Garmin. The reasons that I have not bought one until now is that they seem expensive compared to dedicated automobile navigators and limited in utility. Earlier ones seemed crude in entering coordinates, etc.
More recently, it seems like the differences between them has reduced a bit. For example, you can buy City Navigator and automobile mounts for handhelds and use them in a vehicle.
So, that brings me to my questions. For those here that are using a handheld GPS as an automobile navigator, what features do you most miss that a dedicated automobile navigator has? I assume that the lack of traffic would be one of the biggest shortcomings.
I would really like to see a new Garmin Monterra released sometime soon. I like the idea of an Android based handheld, but the current Monterra sort of disappoints me.
I don't use a handheld, but am a long time Garmin Nuvi user. I've always felt auto installed nav units were more expensive than a Garmin (Nuvi or handheld). The installed nav unit are typically in excess of $2,000, then if you want to install a new map version that's at least $150 for each update. I would opt for a Garmin with lifetime map and traffic updates any day.
I've used my Montana occasionally instead of my nuvi. For me the main differences are traffic and junction views.
I wouldn't buy a handheld to use in my car unless I could only afford one device and needed a handheld for hiking etc.
Even then my preference would be a nuvi and a cheaper handheld like the Etrex which would come in cheaper than a Montana with car mount and CN maps.
I was using a Montana as a car navigator. I sold the Montana and use an iPhone with the Garmin app now. The Montana was missing several features I had become accustomed to, that I used on my 60CSx and now my 64s. And the Montana was buggy. I provided tremendous feedback the fled to a few Montana firmware revisions. The Montana tried to be all things to all users all the time, and it just didn't work for me. It was missing features I came to expect, and it was just too big and heavy to be a handheld. I'll carry a 64s any day, a Montana is too big/heavy.
I own a several year old eTrex Vista HCx and a Nuvi 3790.
While this is not the issue for your consideration of a Montana, on actual trial of the eTrex for automobile navigation I miss the much larger display and thus much better mapping context the most. Second most I miss the verbal directions, which are much better is busy situations than beep plus look (at a tiny display).
On the other hand the eTrex has dramatic advantages in terms of greater user control, vastly longer battery life, and more travel-friendly form factor. My last two Nuvis have been far worse at hiking use than how bad the eTrex is for car use.
So I use the Nuvi 3790 with a beanbag mount for all USA car travel, whether at home or on trips, and use the eTrex for any hiking, chasing down a Mach 1+ amateur rocket to the coordinates at impact, or foreign travel (with the use of maps downloaded from openstreetmap.org). The eTrex is so light and small that it has a permanent little pocket in my travel briefcase, from which it would emerge as my emergency backup if my 3790 failed me.
There was a time when I wanted a Montana pretty bad, but the cost was (and still is) prohibitive by the time you add the overpriced (IMO) Montana. the car mount with speaker, City Navigator map, lifetime map subscription. I was saving up for a Montana to replace my old nuvi 755T and Oregon 550 when I was tempted by the good deals on refurb nuvi 3597LMTHDs. So I decided to go with the 3597. Now, I am glad I didn't invest all that money in the Montana. With the larger screen, real directions, active lane guidance, and voice recognition, the 3597 outshines the Montana for road navigation in many ways. So I have decided the combination of the 3597 and my Oregon 550 is right for my purposes, and the two of them together were cheaper than the Montana would have been.
For car navigation, I would put the Montana in the same league as the old nuvi 7x5 series. It has lane guidance, the legacy route planner for mult-point routing and a slightly smaller screen. The only thing missing compared to a 755T is junction view and traffic.
If there ever was a "best of breed" strategy, then the two Garmin classes of navigators are good examples of that scheme. Neither class is robust enough to substitute for the other. Wouldn't use a handheld on a motor trip any more than I would use a Nuvi in the woods or off road.
Most reliable/best of breed hikers (or "handhelds") are the eTrex 30/30x (/w self added OSM, topo, POI, trails etc). As for the Nuvi we seem to agree here that KISS is the efficient strategy on the dash. (I still consider my Nuvi 1450LMT, more desirable than the (2X) Nuvi 2555).
And BTW: the alternatives to the Nuvi, are a pre run paper copy of Google Earth/Mapquest (if you are traveling w/a copilot). And no, out of deliberate choice, not one of us in this family uses a "track-U & pay for it" smartphone.
I love my Montana for using on my kayak, but it's a bit bulky/heavy compared to a nuvi for use in the car. Plus you are paying for it being waterproof and rugged which you likely do not need in an automobile. And the autocradle is an extra expense.
I would stick with a nuvi for in the car.
I have a Montana 650T which I occasionally use while driving. The powered vehicle mount is a must for effective on road operation. The Montana functions about as well as a low end Nuvi. It has a relatively small screen which, depending on how you mount it, can be difficult to read in a vehicle. The main advantage is the fully customizable screen on the Montana. It will display 10 individually selectable data fields or 4 fields with a smaller map. Comes in handy for road rallies.
I agree with diesel about the Montana being a bit bulky for handheld use. I use mine mainly on my bicycle with a handlebar mount. Since the unit is weather resistant, I’ve seen it used on ATV‘s and small watercraft as well.
For strictly handheld use, I prefer my smaller, lighter Oregon 650. It has a screen which is brighter and easier to read in bright sun than the Montana.
As alandb points out, when you add the cost of the Montana, mount and CNNT maps, you can get a mid-priced handheld and a mid-range Nuvi for less money.
I have yet to see a single GPSr which works well for all purposes.
The Montana has appeal, and I fell for it.
For car nav, the powered speaker mount is a must. But it is also prone to failure. I had to replace mine a couple times. Treat it very careful to get more life out of it. The connector is a weak link.
The Montana is way too big/heavy for hiking or use as a handheld. I have a GPSMAP 64s and it is far superior as a handheld. I'd rather use an iPhone in a handheld application than a Montana.
For car nav, I use the Garmin app on an iPhone. This is far superior to the Montana. I use a strip of Velcro to mount the iPhone on the dash... perfect. The color of the Velcro blends perfectly with the dash, the iPhone mounts/unmounts with the Velcro... just fantastic. This is way better than the Montana and its dedicated speaker mount. The Garmin iOS app integration with the smartphone is also very valuable. So for car nav, I have all functions very nicely integrated into one device. I can say that I have been doing this for quite some time and never found I needed to have the dedicated GPSr to supplement the iPhone.
The Montana with its size, big screen, touchscreen, ruggedness and weather resistance has a niche, just not what I need. I hear it is beloved by ATV-ers and snowmobilers.
So I use the Garmin app on the iPhone for car nav and general GPS navigation, and the GPSMAP 64s for hiking, biking, outdoorsy stuff, and when I need weather/environmental resistance.
I sold the Montana several months ago, do not miss it at all.
I know about Garmin NUVIs and a little about Tom Tom, but nothing about Montana
Jim1348, what makes you want a handheld GPS? What are your needs/expectations?
I have never used a dedicated automobile navigator such as a nüvi, so I don't know what I may have missed.
Occasionally, I mount the GPSMAP 64s in the car. Small screen, but it works. City Navigator works great on the 64s, and Garmin makes a great car mount. I rarely have a need for traffic, not a big feature for me. If I need it, I'll check with Google, Waze, or some other app on my iPhone. I use the Garmin iOS app on my iPhone as my primary car nav, and it has the option to add traffic for $19.99/yr. The GPSMAP 64s is a great handheld, if it meets your desires.
Should have googled it myself...
Jim1348, what makes you want a handheld GPS? What are your needs/expectations?.....
I have four vehicles now. All of them have Garmins. I have a Nuvi 350, 350, 500, and a 3597 in my primary vehicle. I works great.
My oldest vehicle is a 1995 Chevrolet Silverado pickup. I am an ATVer and it gets used during the spring, summer, and fall to transport my ATV to trails. It might be handy to the replace the Nuvi 350 or 360 with a Garmin Montana so that I could use it to drive to the state forests and then use it on the ATV on the trails.
One of the features that interests me is the ability to use Android apps. For example, I use a Slingbox PRO-HD to stream TV audio so I can lsiten to the news during by drive to work. With the Montana, I could listen through that rather than my phone. I have tried the current Montana and the screen resolution is underwhelming to me. And even if the resolution was good, I think it is overpriced.
Your comment "One of the features that interests me is the ability to use Android apps" confuses me. The Montana is not an Android device. Are you thinking about the Monterra instead of the Montana?
The Montana can not use Android apps.
Yes, I do mean the Monterra.
Well, that changes just about everything.
Sorry for the confusion about the Montana / Monterra posts. In addition to my Montana, I also briefly owned a Monterra and can offer a few more comments.
Much of what has been said about the Montana is also true of the Monterra. It is heavy, bulky and expensive to use strictly as a handheld. It uses the same power /audio vehicle mount as the Montana and on road performance is very similar to that described in my earlier post. Like the Montana, the Monterra is popular for use in small watercraft, snowmobiles and off road vehicles.
While the android app capability of the Monterra is an attractive feature, keep in mind it is only WiFi enabled and does not have full cellular connectivity. It will only run apps requiring internet access in WiFi hotspots.
Like you, I would also like to see Garmin offer an upgraded Monterra. Considering the cost however, I don’t think it, or the Montana either for that matter, are practical dual purpose units. IMO, buy a mid-range Nuvi for the road and a Garmin Edge or Oregon to use as a handheld.
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