The Garmin 62s is one of five models in the new 62-series of handheld GPS gear to hit the Garmin lineup recently. All units in the 62-series feature a high-sensitivity GPS receiver, color display screen, and world base map.
The “s” designation in the model number of our test unit indicates this portable GPS is equipped with two internal sensors. The one of particular interest to mariners is the 3-axis electronics compass. This unit also has a built-in altimeter. Other models in the 62-series are also fitted with a camera and/or preloaded topographic maps.
The mostly grey case measures 5.0-inches tall, 2.2-inches wide, 1.4-inches thick. A solid stub antenna up top adds another 1.3-inches to the overall height.
With a pair of AA batteries installed our Garmin 62s tipped the scale at 7.6 ounces. This handheld GPS is a rounded design best carried with its carabiner equipped belt clip. A protective weather flap on the case back hides an external antenna jack and mini USB port.
Since I am right-handed I found the unit easiest to operate while holding it in my left hand and button pushing with my right. However, for more manually adept users it is possible to operate the pushbuttons located on the bottom third of the front panel with the thumb without blocking any portion of the display screen.
In the box with this handheld GPS unit you’ll find a USB cable to connect to a personal computer, a belt clip with carabiner, and a pamphlet size quick start manual with basic operating instructions.
To learn more about your 62-series handheld GPS you’d need to go to the Garmin website and read the full owner’s manual online, or download and print it.
To make the 62s a reliable marine handheld GPS navigator requires the addition of an optional chart package. For my testing, I opted for a pre-programmed Garmin data card that was not only loaded with BlueChart g2 marine charts, but also featured tide, current, depth contour information as well as port services like where to buy fuel, water, or food.
Eight front face pushbuttons, with on-button function labels, and a single 4-way rocker switch provide the user with operational control. A side mounted pushbutton turns the unit on or off.
A single press of the Page button sends you to the next main page selection. The first in sequence is the Map page and since our test unit was packing a BlueChart marine card the map page displayed a finely-detailed marine chart.
Next in order is the Compass page with its compass rose, waypoint bearing pointer, and user selectable data boxes. Third in order is the Trip Computer page which displays a myriad of adjustable data boxes. The last main page of interest to mariners is the Main Menu page.
Each press of the Page button displays a page icon graphic in onscreen tape which shows over the top the last selected page. Each successive press of the Page button moves the next page icon down the tape. When you stop pressing the button the new page appears automatically about two seconds later. Very nice interface for the user.
Waypoints and Routes
An easy way to save a present position waypoint in the Garmin 62s is with a quick press of the Mark button. This creates the waypoint and brings up a waypoint data page where you can either just hit enter to save it as is or change the associated icon, name, add a note, or change the latitude/longitude.
The icon to be associated with the waypoint can be selected from one of several large groups with names like markers, marine, or outdoors. Waypoint names can be up to 30 characters in length—finally waypoint names long enough to be descriptive can be entered, good on Garmin.
Letters or numbers for a name are chosen by using the rocker and enter key. You would scroll around onscreen and highlight each number or letter in order and then press enter. This is a notch above scrolling though list of numbers and letters for data entry.
Use of the built-in route planner, select from the Main Menu, made constructing a route very easy. Basically you just follow through each menu step of the process and hit the Enter key. Once the first waypoint is selected you simply move the cursor and hit the enter key to add another point. Pressing quit saves the route automatically.
With a large internal memory of 1.7 GB this Garmin handheld will store up to 2000 waypoints and 200 routes. That is an impressive storage capacity for a handheld GPS.
The Garmin 62s color display screen is fairly large for a handheld GPS and occupies the upper two-thirds of the front panel. It features a portrait layout with a width of 1.4-inches and height of 2.2-inches for a diagonal measurement of 2.6-inches; it carries a 160 x 240 pixel resolution.
A single quick press of the off/on button displays a screen backlighting menu page that includes the date, time, battery level, and GPS signal strength meter, as well as a 21-position screen brightness slider. You can adjust the screen backlight here using the rocker switch or with successive quick presses of the on/off button. Using the on/off button will set minimum, maximum, or mid-level brightness.
I am going to rate the display screen on the Garmin 62s excellent. When I viewed it outside in sunny conditions I found it easy to read with or without my polarized sunglasses.
Odds and Ends
The Garmin 62s, because it is primarily marketed for land use, does not have a built-in man overboard function. As a poor man’s MOB you could use a quick press of the Mark button followed by the Enter button. This would build a waypoint at that position and allow navigation back to that point.
A battery compartment door located on the case back houses the batteries and the microSD™ card slot. A simple twist lock at the bottom of the door opens it. To access the card slot you will need to remove the pair of AA batteries the power the unit.
A mini USB port and external antenna jack, both located on the upper case back, are covered with a protective weather flap. This Garmin handheld GPS is capable of doing wireless data transfer with other Garmin units that are also equipped to do so.
Marine specific information covering things like navigation markers, tides, currents, and nearby marine services can be all be found quickly by using the Find key. Remember much of this data is stored on the optional chart card I used for testing.
This Garmin portable GPS is rated waterproof to IPX7 standards. The IPX7 rating means it can be submerged to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes without suffering any damage.
It passed both our dunk test and drop test with no problem. The unit carries a 1-year warranty.
The Garmin 62s has a crisp display screen and up to date intuitive operating software. However without the addition of an optional BlueChart marine chart card for your area it will lack detailed onboard marine cartography, as well as other valuable marine related information.