The Garmin eTrex Legend H portable GPS is the latest and greatest in the eTrex lineup. It’s a compact unit that measures only 4.4 inches high, 2.2 wide, and 1.2 thick or just about the size of a bar of soap. It weighs in at a paltry 5.4 ounces with a pair of AA batteries installed.
Five pushbuttons and a joystick control this advanced eTrex. Three buttons are side-mounted on the left, with two on the right, and the joystick on the front panel.
The unit fits nicely into one hand and can be operated single-handed without having your fingers block the screen.
Symbol labels for the pushbuttons are molded into the plastic and located just under each button or in case of the arrow keys on the button. Unfortunately, a black on black color scheme offers little contrast and seeing the labels difficult in low light conditions.
For ease of operation we usually prefer clearly marked pushbuttons on the face of the unit. In our opinion, the side-mount buttons of the eTrex are more difficult to use and see.
The front panel mounted joystick adds a new dimension to the control and operation of the eTrex. It functions as both a four direction rocker switch and a dual function pushbutton.
One really handy tool built into the joystick software allows the user to make a waypoint at the current position anytime by simply pressing and holding the joystick button in.
The first time we turned on the unit it took about a minute to locate our position. On subsequent uses it locked on in a few seconds.
The easy to use Garmin eTrex Legend H software package uses three main pages to access data. Each sequential push of the page buttonthe upper button on the right-hand sidetakes you to the Map, Compass, and Menu pages.
The Map page displays a basic land and road map but had no coastal details in the areas we checked. This unit does have 24 MB of internal memory for the storage of optional maps. It is unclear in the documentation whether or not coastal BlueCharts are one of these options. We are checking with Garmin to find out.
On the Compass page youll find a compass rose with rudimentary markings at the cardinal headings covering the lower two-thirds of the page. Above youll find data boxes, you can display two, three, of four boxes with user selectable data points.
The last main page is the menu page with sub-menus for Mark, Waypoint, Route, Tracks, and Setup.
The page list and sequence is user adjustable so we added the Trip Computer and Sun and Moon page to the mix on our test unit.
The Trip Computer page displays navigational data using either four or nine data boxes. All are user selectable from an internal list of over 30 data points.
The Sun and Moon page lists sunrise, sunset, moonrise, and moonset times in data boxes as well as graphically.
A utility page, Satellite Status, show signal strength with a simple bar level meter.
The Garmin eTrex Legend H uses a 2.5-inch (on the diagonal) 4-level gray scale screen with a very high 160 x 288 pixel resolution. The screen is a well-defined portrait layout with a height nearly double the width. This combination makes curved lines and small fonts sharp and clear.
The only issue we noted was how small some of the text actually was, people with less than perfect near vision may have some trouble reading details.
We found the screen easy to see view under all lighting conditions. No pushbutton backlighting is provided.
Both the battery compartment and USB data port connection are on the rear of the case. The Garmin eTrex can store up to 1000 waypoints and 20 routes.
It carries a one-year warranty and is rated water resistant to IPX7 standards. That means it can be submerged to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes without leaking water inside or sustaining any damage. It passed our dunk test, but water did enter the battery box. Make sure you dry the battery area promptly if the Legend goes underwater.
The eTrex Legend H is an inexpensive Garmin portable GPS that has a significant upgrade to ease of operation. The earlier eTrex version lacked the front panel joystick control.
The jury is still out on whether this is a good pick for boaters. We’ll let you know after we download, view, and test BlueCharts in this machine.