RFI: GPS for birding

To: "'Stuart Cooney'" <>, <>
Subject: RFI: GPS for birding
From: "Tony Russell" <>
Date: Tue, 20 Sep 2005 15:03:22 +0930
I'm almost glad to hear this story from Stuart. I had a Magellan which was always very slow to get a fix and which finally stopped working altogether. It became a joke in the field. I switched to a Garmin GPS II Plus. This works infinitely better. It did at one time develop an internal battery problem which was fixed at no cost by a Garmin rep here in Adelaide - they knew of the fault and were repairing them for free as people brought them in. This struck me as them standing behind their product very satisfactorily. It's worked perfectly ever since.
 The old Magellan hit the bottom of my Sulo bin with a satisfying and resounding thud.
I have already responded privately to Martin's request for info.

Tony Russell


-----Original Message-----
From: [ On Behalf Of Stuart Cooney
Sent: Tuesday, September 20, 2005 2:51 PM
Subject: Re: [BIRDING-AUS] RFI: GPS for birding

Hi Martin,

I don't want to miss the opportunity to retell my sorry story with Magellan.  I have now bought a Garmin and am getting used to the little differences between the models,

This is what I wrote in August last year:

Hi Folks,
Just a quick cautionary word about my recent dealings with Magellan.  I attempted to download a firmware update for my GPS320 a week or so ago.  The download stopped halfway through and I was unable to get my GPS to come out of Software Upload Mode.  I rang Magellan in WA and they suggested I send it into them. 
Today I was rung by them to say that the unit was "rooted" (their word not mine).  I could pay $200 odd dollars for a replacement/repair or they would return it to me.  I told them that I was not happy with this, but even after speaking to the service manager, (Mr Kevin James), I could not get any help.  Their position is that: 
a: I downloaded the software from a site that was not theirs, however the  site was: which to my mind is most certainly a Magellan site.  However they claim that these downloads are no longer available and not accessible via conventional means, although I found it through a conventional search of Google. 
b: They cannot be held responsible for their software because of the  vagaries of the internet.  Therefore I did this at my own risk, and it was me that "stuffed" my GPS. 
My discussion with Mr James ended quite rudely, after he called me a “bleeding heart", told me that he was sick of the discussion and finally offering me an ultimatum about whether or not I wanted to pay the $200.  When I said "No" he said "Well, I'll send it back to you" and promptly hung up!  I am very disappointed with the attitude and after sales service of the Magellan Company.
Recently many people have remarked on the quality of Garmin GPS products and many people seem to be far more impressed with their products that with Magellan products. I don't know if Garmin's after  sales service is better than Magellan's, but I am now in the market for a new GPS and I don't think I'll be returning to Magellan.  It's a real shame as this was a present from my wife, who spent too much money on the present, when we couldn't really afford it, I have payed their, in my opinion, exorbitant prices for various accessories which will now go to waste (or a good home!  Let me know if anyone wants a car adaptor and computer lead for said GPS, free to a good home), and I had been a real advocate of their products until this day.

At 08:56 AM 19/09/2005, you wrote:

On some recent group birding trips I have had a number of people inquire about my mobile telephone-sized Global Positioning System (GPS) and hence am interested in people's experiences with hand held GPSs as part of their birding 'kit'.

Since purchasing my Garmin Geko 201 a year ago, I've now found it to be valuable addition to my fauna survey work and wondered what other peoples findings were.

I've noticed that Birds Australia, Bird Observers Club of Australia, outdoors shops, marine outlets, map shops and dedicated GPS retailers all tend to sell just a single brand of GPS (Magellan, Garmin, Leica etc) which of course effects the availability of GPS to birdos.

As I'm planning on advising the Bird Observers Club of Australia on some education material regarding GPS purchase and use etc I am keen to hear answers to the following:

1. Which MAKE and MODEL GPS? - Which GPS did you buy
2. What type of retailer did you purchase your GPS from?
3. How much did you pay?
4. Given that it is for birding, why did you buy that particular make and model? (compact?, cheap?, easy to use, only one available?..)
5. Is it EASY to use? (yes/no and why)
6. In your opinion, what are the good points/features for this make/model?
7. Are there any problems or difficulties with the unit? (battery usage, complex to understand, hard to read screen, inadequate instructions...?)
8. Do you just use your GPS for determining grid and locality references for atlassing and bird censusing or do you also download data gathered into you pc for home or work?
9. Would you recommend your GPS to others?
10. Comments - any other comments?

By mid October I'll endeavour to collate the responses and post a summary to the list

Please post to me directly.

cheers, Martin

(I have no connection with any GPS retailers or manufacturers but am just a birdo who uses GPS)

Martin O'Brien
Threatened Species & Communities Section
Department of Sustainability and Environment
2/8 Nicholson St. (PO Box 500), East Melbourne  3002

Tel: 9637 9869
(prefixes: Interstate 03 International 613)

Stuart J. N. Cooney
PhD Candidate—Hooded Parrot Ecology
School of Botany and Zoology
The Australian National University
Canberra, ACT, 0200, Australia
Phone: +61-2-6125 5651
Fax: +61-2-6125 5573

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