Garmin Oregon 650T Hiking GPS Review

The Garmin Oregon 650T is one of the best of Garmin’s handheld outdoor GPS devices. It offers hikers, climbers, and outdoorsmen as much functionality and durability as any navigational device on the market, and combined with its underwater camera and other features it’s the device to beat in a crowded marketplace of GPS units.

While there are many differences between the 650T and earlier versions of the device, it’s the quality of the screen that impresses most users. It’s big, sharp, colorful, and easy to read whether you’re in bright sunlight or deep tree canopy. The Garmin Oregon 650T is also notable for the quality of its integral camera. The 8-megapixel capacity with digital zoom is competitive with cellphone cameras for quality and ease of use, and the fully waterproofed housing gives you a true underwater camera for the price of a navigational device alone. If you like to go geocache hunting, the Oregon 650T will make a perfect companion to help you find your way to any location and take a memorable picture of it when you get there. With automatic geotagging of every picture, it’s easy to know exactly where you took it long after your memory about it fades.

Garmin Oregon 650T Hiking GPS

Garmin Oregon 650t 3-Inch Handheld GPS

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Specifications

  • Handheld GPS navigation device
  • 3-inch touchscreen display
  • Locates position by both GPS and GLONASS satellite positioning
  • Synchs to other device by either ANT+ or Bluetooth
  • Dual battery system has rechargeable NiMH battery pack along with swappable AA batteries
  • 8 megapixel autofocus camera with digital zoom
  • LED flash
  • 3-axis compass
  • Barometric altimeter
  • Equipped with an accelerometer
  • IPX7 waterproof rating
  • 16 hours of rechargeable battery life
  • 4.5 inches x 2.4 inches x 1.3 inches
  • Pre-loaded with 100k US topographical maps
  • AC charging adapter included
  • Equipped with a carabiner clip
  • Uses micro SDHC memory for additional storage
  • Weighs 7.4 ounces
  • Shipping weight 1.3 pounds

Features

There isn’t another GPS device on the market that can approach the beauty and usability of the 650T screen. It’s incredibly sharp and responsive to touch commands, even if you’re operating it with a lightly gloved finger. You can pinch and expand or contract your fingers on the screen to zoom in and out or even rotate the image on the screen if you like. Even though navigational devices have many other useful functions, the ability to display and manipulate information on a screen is by far the most important, and the Garmin 650T is a game-changer in this regard.

Garmin Oregon 650t Hiking GPSYou’ll Appreciate the Responsive Screen Out in the Woods

It’s easy to forget how a device like the Garmin 650T will be used in the real world when you’re shopping for one online, but users quickly remember how uncomfortable and inconvenient it can be to remove your gloves in order to operate a navigational device when you’re out in the wilderness or on a mountain. The touchscreen of the 650T responds well to commands from a gloved finger, and the exterior buttons are easy to operate, so you’ll appreciate how convenient it is to use the 650T compared to other devices when you’re out in the cold or the rain.

Designed To Sit Comfortably in the Palm of Your Hand

The Garmin Oregon 650T is ergonomically designed to sit comfortably in your hand while you operate it with the fingers on your other hand, and if you’ve ever used a navigational device that makes you hold it in a horizontal orientation you’ll quickly appreciate how well-designed the device is.

Great Navigational Performance

Reception of satellite signals is excellent with the Garmin, and you can’t find a unit with better performance unless you get one with an external antenna. The maps render quickly on the 650T, although there can be a short delay when you turn the device from vertical to horizontal orientation. The electronic compass is based on a 3-axis design, and the device also has an accelerometer built in, which makes it possible to use the compass even when you’re standing still, and without the need to hold the device level to get an accurate reading.

The Garmin Oregon 650T uses Basecamp software to let users plan routes and set waypoints and destinations. The software makes it easy to project waypoints onto Google Earth images to see where you’ve been, and where you’re planning on going.

Pros

  • Ergonomic shape and easy to use buttons make it an almost fumble-free device to carry, even with gloves on
  • The touchscreen is very responsive, even when operated with a gloved finger
  • Push buttons can be programmed to perform the most important functions for any user
  • Maps render quickly after turning the unit on
  • Full color screen is easy to read even in direct sunlight
  • Underwater camera takes crisp, clear pictures
  • Photos are all geotagged so you can determine where they were taken at any time
  • Great for geocaching
  • Is able to use third-party maps
  • Completely waterproof

Cons

  • Operation manual doesn’t offer detailed instructions for all operations
  • Too difficult to engage and turn off the lock screen
  • Short battery life
  • Software often freezes up
  • Buttons are difficult to operate when exposed to very low temperatures

Final Verdict

Garmin Oregon 650t Hiking GPS

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User reviews of the Garmin Oregon 650T are mixed. One of the problems with a top-of-the-line device like the 650T is that it’s fairly expensive, and user expectations are very high. While almost every review acknowledges the amazingly detailed and readable screen and easy functionality of the device, users that expected the latest version of the Oregon line to perform in a more intuitive and straightforward manner were somewhat disappointed. The upgrade in the capacity and variety of the functions that the 650T can perform has also put more of a drain on battery life, and some users complain that they’d rather the device was slightly larger and heavier again if it meant longer rechargeable battery life. Other users are accustomed to swapping out AA batteries on devices they carry out in the wilderness and don’t worry to much about the NiMH batteries. If you’re looking for the most capable navigation device on the market today, and don’t mind spending a little extra to get it, the Garmin Oregon 650T is it.