Handheld GPS Ratings

November 7, 2006 By: Marshall Cutchin

Call me a Luddite, but I’ve never had much use for GPS devices, on a boat or otherwise. Still, Global Positioning is one of those technologies that sort of creeps up on you. You go to sleep one day, and when you wake up the world is geo-caching and linking their photos and vpods via lat/long coordinates. And of course your friends all have nifty downloadable charts atop their consoles and rarely get lost traversing the backcountry. It is, I suppose, inevitable that dead reckoning will seem resoundingly arcane to our grandkids.
This month Practical Sailor magazine, which reviews products for the sailing cogniscenti, looked at the top handheld GPS devices (“arguably the most powerful navigational tool that can fit in your pocket”) and came up with the West Marine 76 CS ($500) as the top unit. Though it is almost identical to the Garmin 76 CSx, it has a tide table and is $50 cheaper. Practical Sailor doesn’t publish their material online for non-subscribers, but if you are a boater, we’d bet you’ll find their unbiased reviews very handy. (14-day trial subscriptions are available here.)