Upgrade path from an Oregon 650T? Been hoping for a Garmin option but...


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My current Oregon 650T, a model that is now over 10 years old, can be pretty sluggish, especially searching POIs. Plus, my eyes aren't getting any younger with that 3" screen on the dashboard.

My wish list includes: Topo maps with routing; stand-alone route planning and editing; proper Basecamp integration to support existing data and great scheduling features; hands free calling; voice control; NMEA interface and over bluetooth would be spectacular; track management at least comparable to the Oregon; lifetime City Navigator (considering what a new device costs); traffic updates; Birdseye satellite imagery; Active Weather is interesting; a dual frequency receiver option; music controls would be a nice to have

Gamin's comparison tool doesn't seem too useful, as apparently the Montana 700 doesn't have turn-by-turn navigation?

As some here may remember, I picked up an Overlander in December, 2021, but for reasons unclear to Garmin Technical Support, my unit had serious issues. I returned that unit for a refund. Due to the current lack of local availability and my previous experience, I am reluctant to try the Overlander again. The Tread looks like the new and improved version of the Overlander, accept Garmin has removed some features for the Tread.

I've looked at the Montana 700 thread here, and it seems there are a few folks concerned that the backlit screen brightness isn't meeting expectations. I would like to know if it supports a Bluetooth Serial Port Profile for exchanging NMEA serial data (for APRS), but so far Garmin Support isn't sure. There is the optional mount with speaker for CA$145, but no hands free calling or voice control. So 10 years on from the Oregon 6xx series, CA$1,100 buys me a Montana 700 and dash mount kit, but that does not even include a AA battery holder. Compared to the Oregon 650T, the improvements are a screen that it not even twice the size, a faster processing, twice as much storage (16 whole gigabytes! A 400GB SanDisk Ultra microSDXC card is CA$65), spoken navigation instructions, what is looking like an incomplete bluetooth implementation (no SPP), I suspect old-school 802.11n Wi-Fi, and a prone-to-failure micro USB connector. While the Montana 700 does support a NMEA interface, Garmin doesn't even make the necessary serial data/power cable with a micro USB connector. It is interesting that while using SW Maps (GIS application), on my android phone that is twice as old as the Montana 700 series, scrolling the satellite image map display that requires image tile downloads, redraws faster than the videos I've seen scrolling around Topo maps on the Montana. Obviously my phone cost a lot less than a Montana 700 and has better battery life, higher resolution screen, more storage, faster Wi-Fi, USB C, high resolution cameras, etc. I obviously appreciate the benefits of a dedicated GPS over a smart phone, but the trade offs...

The Garmin Tread - Base Edition seems to have done away with the Overlander's Drive and Explore app model, so that's an improvement. Maybe it is worth taking a look at? However, I cannot see that it has hands free calling support. (In what vehicle application do you not want hands free calling?) The lack of NMEA support is still irritating, but that seems to be a common failure of all the Garmin Automotive products. I do not understand why there are both Garmin Tread - Base Edition and zūmo XT models, other than Garmin demonstrating their love of market differentiation to penalize customers. Is the zūmo XT currently the better model?

The lack of awareness of decent track management in the Garmin Automotive group, who appear to be making most of the off-road products, is truly shocking. It is like no one in that group has EVER picked up a Garmin handheld to appreciate what they can do. It would inform them why customers like me look at Garmin Automotive off-road products and come away disappointing.

It appears Garmin is continuing their tradition of intentionally withholding functionality for pointless market segmentation. Apparently, someone driving their pick-up (wants hands free calling and voice control) with a dirt bike or snow mobile in the back (wants Basecamp planning), cannot just use the same Garmin in their different vehicles (unnecessary market segmentation). With the exception of NMEA over bluetooth, Garmin offers all the features I want, so they have the technology, just never all in the same device. It is not enough that smart phones and tablets continue to erode Garmin's personal navigation business, but Garmin appears to be doing everything they can to encourage customers to look elsewhere for the features they want and good value. Garmin could focus on a single, solid, device software solution, evolving Basecamp (Trying to trip plan on website, where there is no Internet service, is a really well thought out approach) and a mobile app, then differentiate products by screen size, system performance (handheld vs automotive), InReach, Group Ride Radio, dual frequency receivers, cameras, ABC sensors, dog tracking, etc., and a compatible accessories selection across the line. No more of this, "Your old backup camera doesn't work with your new Tread" crap. I suspect Garmin is too far gone on the inside that this is ever going to happen, even if it costs them their long-term consumer land navigation business.

I'm not sure where to go from here, with an impending change of prescription glasses, I still need an upgrade...

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