Garmin's 60CSx





Handheld GPS with High Sensitive Receiver and Expandable Memory

June 27, 2006
Release 2 (Software Version 2.90)
Review By: Sam Penrod

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Overview

The GPSMAP 60CSx is the new and improved Garmin handheld GPS Receiver.  Very similar in features to its predecessor, on the outside the 60CSx looks like an identical twin to the 60CS.  But there are significant changes inside, most of them for the better.  Street prices for the 60CSx are $500.  Check discount prices here.  The two key features of the 60CSx include the ability to upgrade the map memory with a larger microSD card and the addition of a Sirf star III receiver chip, which dramatically improves satellite reception, (although this does not necessarily  improve the listed GPS accuracy on the unit.)   Since a majority of the features are the same as the 60CS, please reference the previous 60C/S review by Joe for most of the features.  This review only addresses the changes to the 60CSx and the 60Cx, which is the same unit at the 60CSx, without the electronic compass and altimeter.  When the 60CSx was initially released, there were several bugs that needed to be  fixed though a software update.  It seems most of these issues have now been corrected, and so we suggest you make sure you have the latest unit software.  Check here or use Garmin's new WebUpdater program.   We should also point out that it is necessary to use Garmin's WebUpdater program even if you like to manually install the unit software.  Using WebUpdater is the only way to update the Sirf Receiver chip software, although this is updated less often than the unit software is.  Currently as of this writing, the "GPS SW Version" is 2.60.  You can check this in your 60CSx in the Setup menu, under "System" pressing the menu key and then "Software Version."

Improved Receiver

The most noticeable change in the 60CSx is in the receiver, with the Sirf Star III chip.  Acquisition times are very fast, even with a cold start, typically less than 30 seconds. For a warm start (when the unit has been on within the last hour) you have a satellite lock, before the warmup pages have even cleared, typically in two seconds.  (Although the accuracy begins in the hundreds of feet, but within about ten seconds is down within 12-15 feet.)  While the reception in the 60CSX is improved, including almost always twelve satellites with nearly full reception, the listed accuracy on the unit is not as good with the 60CS.  In my testing, the 60CSx would have more satellites and with stronger signals, but would average about 12-15 foot accuracy.  In the same spot at the same time, the 60CS would have less satellites and poorer reception, but would show better accuracy, usually 9-11 feet, sometimes as good as seven feet.   Some have speculated Garmin is being more careful in how the accuracy is expressed in newer models. What I will say though is that I would not trade my 60CSx back for the 60CS, because I have never lost satellite reception, even in deep mountain canyons or in a downtown area and believe the accuracy is just as good.  The only place I have got a 'lost satellite reception' message, is in a concrete parking garage.   There has been some discussion in the forums about WAAS problems with the 60CSx.  
As of this writing, it seems all of them have been corrected through software updates, specifically what was known as the "tunnel problem."  When the 60CSx was released, there was a problem with having WAAS enabled and when you would go through a long tunnel or a parking garage, or some other area where the unit completely loses all satellite reception, when you get back into an open area where you should be getting reception again, the unit would not automatically get a satellite lock, until you turned the unit off and turned it on again.   The receiver software update version 2.60 "GPS SW version 2.60" seems to have corrected this problem.  The software update also allowed the unit to see the newer WAAS satellites, including #51.

Here is a side by side photo of the 60CSx on the left and 60CS on the right. Notice that the 60CSx has more satellites and better signal strength, but an accuracy reading of 21 feet. The 60CS has fewer satellites and poorer signal strength on the satellite page, however, shows an eleven foot accuracy. Both are getting WAAS correction, shown with the "D" on each satellite bar. However, this DOES NOT necessarily mean that one unit is reading more accurately than the other. The EPE is an ESTIMATED POSITION ERROR and this reading is no more accurate than the basic accuracy of the unit itself and it depends on which satellites are being viewed by each unit and THEIR accuracy at that moment. With the basic accuracy of WAAS on these units being 3 meters, (about 10ft) you can conclude that the accuracy of the 60CS is 11ft
(+/- 10ft) and that the accuracy of the G60CSX is 21ft (+/- 10ft). This assuming you have a clear sky view or the error range can be larger.




Expandable Memory

The ability to upgrade the memory is a huge improvement to a handheld unit.  In the 60CS, you have 56 MB of memory available.  In the 60CSx the included microSD card, (found underneath the batteries) is a 64MB card.  However, it will accept up to a 1GB microSD card.  This means you can load just about as much map memory as you could ever want, up to two thousand and twenty five (2025) separate map files.  I have successfully loaded City Select, TOPO, Roads and Recreation and Metroguide USA into my 60CSx, all at the same time.  You must select which map group you want on the screen, this can be done in the Map Setup menu.  There is some memory used up for formatting, for example with my 256MB card, I was only able to load 234 MB of map memory.  The price on these microSD cards is coming down.  I found a 256MB card for just $25.

Photo below is a close up of where the memory card is located.  You must remove the batteries to have access to it.  The card slides in and then the metal cover locks into place.



USB Power

Another improvement with the 60CSx, is that you can power the unit through the USB port.  When you connect it to the computer through the USB, it will power the unit.  You can also power it through a Garmin USB DC power cable.  There are both AC and DC type adapters available from Garmin as additional accessories.

POI Loader

The 60CSx is compatible with Garmin's POI loader.  You can now add custom Points of Interest into the unit.  So far, I have loaded 9,000 POI's into the 60CSx.  You can read more on custom POI's, by following this link on gpsinformation.net.  There is a bug still in using Custom POI's in the 60CSx.  Most of the time, when you select "Custom Points of Interest"  You will see "None Found"  However, when you press the menu key, you will get a screen and by selecting "Select Database" you can access your POI's in the specific category.  I should point out that once in a while, when I select custom POI's, they all show up, listed by nearest, but all the categories are combined.   I have tried to figure out why there is inconsistency in this, but so far I have not.

Improved Processor

The 60CSx also has a faster processor.  I have noticed autoroutes are calculated faster and while panning the map, it redraws much faster than the 60CS.

Tracklog Memory

A nice feature added in a recent software update to the 60CSx, is the ability to save tracklogs onto the memory card.  The 60CSx records up to 10,000 tracklog points, as does the 60CS.  But in the tracklog setup, you can select 'data card setup' which gives you the option of checking  "Log Track to Data Card" and lists all of the tracklogs, by date, for example "20060502.gpx" represents May 2, 2006. The files are created as .gpx, which is compatible with many programs, including MapSource. There is also a readout of how much memory is left on the card.  You also have the option to delete all the track log files, or you can highlight one specific file to delete it.  Garmin has also in a recent software update, added the ability to put the unit into USB mode, so you can access the trackfiles in the data card.   To do this, select the main menu, then Setup and then interface.  At the bottom of the page, you can select  "USB Mass Storage"  The unit will actually lock up and be in USB mode, until you "safely remove it" on your computer.  The card will show up like any other removable data card on your computer.  You can open up the .gpx files in MapSource, G7toWin, Easy GPS, or other programs that will read the .gpx format.  When you are finished and "safely remove the card", the 60CSx will automatically restart, as it would if you turned it off and back on.  Each tracklog file size varies, depending on how many track points are recorded.  Typically they are about 60KB, but if I do a lot of driving I have seen them as high as 150KB a day.   One issue I have discovered is that if you save more than 50 days worth of tracklogs on the data card, it will only show the first 50.  However, if you connect the unit or the card to a computer, you will find that all of the files are there, even though your most recent ones are not visible.  But again, you can only delete the tracklog files on the display, so it is not necessary to see the newest track files on the screen, to get access to them, only if you wish to delete them.




 

Screen below shows what to select to get access to tracklogs saved to the data card.



Marine Points

Unlike other Garmin units I have used, loading in MapSource data erases the supplied Marine Points data.  However, in the 60CSx it remains.  This data gives you tide station data for North America.  Example of this page is below.



Battery Life

Garmin says the average battery life in the 60CSx is 18 hours.  In the 60CS, you can expect at least 20 hours of use.  Using WAAS will reduce this some as well as extensive use of the backlight.

Eliminated Features

The 60CSx does not contain at least three features found in the 60CS.  The alarm clock is gone, as is the ability to set a pressure trend recording.  In the marine features, the speed filter in the 60CS is also not included.  And in using a 60CSx in APRS, a amateur radio hobby, the 60CSx does not overwrite when a new station is heard and downloaded into the unit.  It simply adds a number to the end of the waypoint station.  This can overload your waypoint capacity of 1000 within a couple of hours.  Garmin says there is no way to get the unit to overwrite the stations.  However, you can easily manage this by not giving any of your other waypoints the Blue Flag icon.  Then delete only the icons that are Blue Flags as needed, to keep the stations from overloading your waypoint capacity.  

Summary

Overall, I am quite happy with the 60CSx and I use it every day.  In my opinion, it is the most versatile GPS receiver, when it comes to outdoor use, highway use and NMEA interface use.  The ease of getting and keeping GPS reception, as well as the ability to increase map memory are very nice features.  I also like being able to automatically save tracklogs to the data card.  If you have a 60CS and are thinking about upgrading, you will have to factor if it is worth the added expense, especially if you have to buy CitySelect or CityNavigator mapping data for it.  For the most part, it will be very similar.  Patrick Roeder has a more in-depth review of the 60CSx, conducted in Europe.  You can find his article here.


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Comments?  Corrections?  Suggestions? Email Sam

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