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Garmin Montana Announced

Tim 1465 Points
Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. (NASDAQ: GRMN), the global leader in satellite navigation, today announced the Montana™ handheld GPS device – the most advanced Garmin handheld featuring a ruggedized design with multiple mounting and battery options, dual-orientation and screen layout options and support for a wide range of Garmin cartography. It has a barometric altimeter for elevation profiling and ability to profile the route ahead using included worldwide elevation model. The included 3-axis compass gives it a heading while standing still or not held level. Montana’s responsive touchscreen is a sprawling 4-inches and the photos taken by its 5-megapixel autofocus camera are displayed in sunlight-readable brilliant color. It's versatile. It's tough. It earned the name Montana.

“Montana was designed with the ‘get dirty, go hard then go home crowd’ in mind, who are always after adventure,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “We now have one device to fulfill all of your rugged GPS needs. From navigating waterways in your boat and traversing the back country in your ATV, to hiking the Austrian Alps and even receiving spoken turn-by-turn directions on the way to the grocery store, Montana has the versatility and mapping compatibility to do what you need it to.”

Anywhere and everywhere: With Montana’s new ruggedized design there is no longer a need to hold back, regardless of your adventure. Montana is fully waterproof and capable of withstanding all the mud and grit you can throw at it, even when connected to its optional powered mount. Use the power mount capability and City Navigator® for spoken, turn-by-turn driving directions, or the rugged mount for your motorcycle or ATV. If you are on foot, simply plug headphones into Montana’s 3.5mm audio jack to hear the spoken prompts. To see Montana in action go to, www.garmin.com/Montana.

When it comes to mapping, Montana has you covered with support for Garmin’s wide array of detailed topographic, marine, and road maps. Montana also supports BirdsEye™ Satellite Imagery (subscription required), that lets you download satellite images to your device and integrate them with your maps. In addition, Montana is compatible with Custom Maps, free software that transforms paper and electronic maps into downloadable maps for your device.

Stay powered: Montana offers two battery options to keep your device powered during remote hunting trips or other outdoor adventures. When you have a chance to rest and recharge each night, a thin, light weight lithium ion battery pack, lasting up to 16 hours, comes in the box. For those trips where you’re off the grid, Montana also works on three AA batteries, giving users an additional 22 hours of use without being weighted down.

Go paperless: Montana supports geocaching GPX files for downloading geocaches and details straight to the unit. Montana stores and displays key information, including location, terrain, difficulty, hints and descriptions, which means no more manually entering coordinates and paper print outs! Simply upload the GPX file to your unit and start hunting for caches. Caches can be downloaded from OpenCaching.com, a completely free online community for creating, sharing and finding geocaches around the world.

While you are out searching for your next cache or trekking through untouched wilderness, capture locations and memories with Montana’s 5-megapixel digital camera. Each photo is automatically geotagged with the location of where it was taken, allowing you to navigate back to that exact spot in the future. Snap and view pictures in landscape or portrait orientation. For more storage, insert a microSD card; you can even view pictures from other devices on microSD with Montana’s picture viewer.
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Comments

  • Boyd 1795 Points
    edited May 2011
    Nice. Maybe this will finally be the advanced unit many of us have waited for? A 4" screen might make it a viable alternative for automotive use and provide the advanced features missing on the Nuvi series.

    Here's some more info:

    http://garmin.blogs.com/my_weblog/2011/05/the-ultimate-in-touchscreen-toughness-garmin-montana-gives-new-meaning-to-rugged-and-versatile.html

    image

    image
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    I was reading about the Montana in a magazine article earlier this morning. They felt it was a bit large for most bikers, but generally had good things to say about it.

    http://www.bikeradar.com/news/article/garmin-launch-montana-off-road-gps-units-30260
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Product info here:

    https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?cID=&pID=75228

    Yeah, the Oregon may be a better size to carry around, this looks big - but cool nonetheless. Screen resolution is the same as the widescreen Nuvi's - 272x480 (130,560 pixels). Still a notch better than the Oregon at 240x400 (96,000 pixels) and a whole lot better than the Dakota, 60csx and 62s at 160x240 (38,400 pixels).

    The only one I see on their site so far is the 650t. Phew, you will need to dig deep into your pocket for this baby at $700. :shock:

    Really can be a viable alternative for auto use though - it actually has a speaker, a first for Garmin handhelds. Of course, you will need to spend even more to add City Navigator and buy a mount.
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    GPSTracklog has a lot more detail on the new series.

    http://gpstracklog.com/2011/05/4-multi-use-garmin-montana-series-announced.html
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    aaannd. . .
    we have video.

  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Cool. Here's the rugged mount for motorcycles, atv's, snowmobiles, etc. that was shown in the video:

    https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=89575

    image

    And the auto mount:

    https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=89574

    image

    They also show a friction mount and marine mount. Evidently it also has an antenna jack:

    https://buy.garmin.com/shop/shop.do?pID=1326
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    Correct. Antenna friendly :)
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    And a hands-on video. Text is in Dutch but the audio is English. It really shows how big this thing is. I now understand why the biking magazine artice this morning mentioned it being perhaps too large for some bike handlebars.

    http://www.janivanda.nl/2011/review-garmin-montana-youtube/
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Garmin's Montana mini-site is now online:

    http://sites.garmin.com/montana/

    Heh, this is starting to sound like our private party Gator... :)
  • sviking 141 Points
    Yay! Yet ANOTHER highly probably buggy GPS unit from Garmin when they still can't FIX their current high end offerings. :roll:

    Looked at the link. Same old clunky Nuvi graphics, too. Nothing exciting there...
  • Shucker 0 Points
    Boyd,

    Would you care to speculate on the Montana? Elsewhere on gpsreveiws.net you once compared one of the Oregans to a 60csx ( I think those were the models) and found that the Oregan (after some software upgrades) actually had less track variation and surpassed the old "tried and true" 60csx. I'm wondering if the Montana will perform as well? I'm considering buying a GPSMAP 62st, but wondered if the Montana is worth the wait. I'm concerned about how the touchscreen will hold up for backpacking and hunting trips. Will insect repellent hurt the screen? What about operating temperatures for the screen? I like the bigger, high-res screen, but maybe it's too big for packing. Garmin says they fixed the bright sunlight issues - we'll see. I already have a Nuvi, so the dual functionality isn't a consideration for me. I guess I'm most concerned (almost obsessed) with accuracy, then screen readability and finally screen size. For now, I don't want to consider cost differences.

    I know it's only speculation at this point, but would you care to give your opinion on which might be the better unit between the Montana and the 62st for backpacking/hunting and hiking? Both have almost identical features. It boils down to accuracy, buttons Vs touchscreen, screensize and physical size.

    I wouldn't mind hearing Gatorguy's thoughts, as well.

    Thanks, Shucker
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Hmm, I have no inside info so not sure of the value. If it uses the same chipset as the Oregon, one would expect performance to be comparable. If you want it strictly for handheld use, it sure looks awful big and heavy. And it's pretty much a given that the software is buggy on every new Garmin model, so early adopters will need to be patient.

    I think the attraction of this unit will be for vehicular use where the big screen is desirable, and it can then double as a handheld when you get out of the car/atv/snowmobile, etc.

    I think it's impossible to know how well suited it will be for handheld use until you can actually hold a real one in your hands. I like the size of my Oregon and 60csx (Oregon is actually a bit smaller, which is good).
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Same old clunky Nuvi graphics, too. Nothing exciting there...
    Of course, we can't know exactly how this thing works before it's introduced. And I've never used City Navigator on my Oregon, so I'm making a few assumptions here.

    But the landscape mode screenshot with City Navigator is probably using the Montana's automotive profile. A very powerful feature on the new handhelds is the ability to customize all the menu items to your taste, then save them as a profile that can be recalled with a few screen taps. This lets you switch quickly between different usage modes.

    So you could display City Navigator with your own preferences. That means you have lots of control over what data fields are shown on screen, the zoom levels at which certain features appear/disappear, text size for different map objects, etc. Here are some of the Oregon's menus, which will probably be similar on the Montana. No Nuvi has these.

    image

    Or maybe you would like to see the City Navigator roads overlaid on a high resolution aerial image? You should be able to do that on the Montana using BirdsEye. So my point is that the screenshot that looks like a Nuvi is just one of many styles of map display that the unit is capable of.

    This unit is not going to appeal to everybody - the price alone will turn off most people. And Garmin's new software is always buggy. There are even significant bugs in software for the units that have been around for awhile. It is what it is.

    But I like the fact that Garmin is offering a new option with features we've never seen rolled into a single unit with a large screen.
  • sviking 141 Points
    So, what's everyone's best guess for price when it hits the shelves (not MSRP)? $750+?

    Some of their auto units (StreetPilot and Nuvi) were over $1000 when first introduced and the Oregon 550 was $500+, too...if it still isn't...
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    When it first hits on-line retailers I'd expect very little discounting if recent history on other new releases holds. there may be a very few pre-release deals knocking off $50 or so if I was guessing. On boxstore shelves I think you'll see full retail.

    But as usual, prices will come down as time goes on. How long did it take for your 3790 to get within your price range?
  • sviking 141 Points

    But as usual, prices will come down as time goes on. How long did it take for your 3790 to get within your price range?
    A year or so? I don't know exactly when they came out. I just bought mine in April for $278. Close enough to my $250 limit. Heck, the under $30 difference isn't even a case of decent beer or a mediocre quality meal out for two. :lol:

    Plus, I bumped up my schedule a bit when I had the problem of Garmin NOT offering me the last (2011.40) map update for my old 2720. :x But, not going to rehash that again. Gave the relatively newer (and update issue free...for now...) 660 to the wife, so I needed something else.
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    Another little detail that might affect purchase plans. While highway navigation will announce turn left/right, it' won't be TTS. No street names.
  • sviking 141 Points
    Ohhh...missed that on the link. A serious shortcoming right there... I believe that was a major "feature" so many of the non-TTS GPS owners wanted in their next unit.

    So, when did the 3790s come out?
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    They were announced in April of last year.
  • sviking 141 Points
    They were announced in April of last year.
    At what price? A year was a snap to wait for $278. Now, if they fall to $125, it won't be NEARLY as big of a deal as my much higher priced older Garmins and saw what they were going for a year or two "down the road". :cry:
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Here's a video that shows the options on the map setup menu. I must say... looks very nice with tons of customization. For highway use you can choose "nuvi mode", or you can create your own set of options to make better use of the screen space.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/GPSCity#p/u/19/nWewFMsuDpY

    The shortcut menu is another feature I haven't seen on any Garmin unit before and it looks really powerful:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/GPSCity#p/u/6/QpX2nasQj0E

    You can also configure the main screen anyway you like:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/GPSCity#p/u/25/QRfn9bZutUI

    The profile feature is available on other new units, but the Montana adds some new features, like automatic profile selection based on usage mode. You can choose which profile to execute when it's placed into the auto mount or connected to external power for example:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/GPSCity#p/u/7/rYDT8V3VLcQ

    There are more videos on youtube showing other features. So it looks like this unit is really configurable in every way. Damn, this is making me start to want one. :shock:
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    In a lot of ways it's the "pro" model quite a few of us have wanted ever since the demise of the StreetPilot's. TTS is the only major feature missing, and that could be added via an application update at some later time if the demand is there.
  • jdgwinnell 41 Points
    According to the YouTube video by GPSCity on "System setup", a wide variety of TTS voices come loaded - four kinds of American English, two British English and a myriad others. The man giving the demo appears to know nothing, but he shows them all... Surely it wouldn't come with the voices if it couldn't do TTS?
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    According to the "Jake" at Garmin, the Montana doesn't offer TTS.
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Well that is clearly a firmware and marketing issue. We saw them add TTS to the Nuvi 500 series via a software update after it had been on the market for over a year, for example.

    Did you notice that you can choose different vehicle icons? Another first for a Garmin handheld.

    And what is the speed option in the map setup? Does it tweak the map display (such as road labels) based on whether you're moving fast or slow? If you look at the draft copy of the manual on the government website, it shows question marks for the description of this feature.

    It does look like a very nice unit overall, will be looking forward to user reports after it's released.
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    Tellin ya Boyd. . .

    This is the "Pro Model" you and others have mentioned wanting the past few years. Now lets see if there really is a market for one.
  • jdgwinnell 41 Points
    I'm queuing up to buy it already...
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    I agree Gator. I am very happy to see they are actually responding to some of the user requests. I saw a glimmer of hope with this on the Nuvi 3790, but this is even a clearer sign. I even see it in some subtle ways: look at this screenshot for example and compare with the Oregon map browser:

    image

    Notice how the + and - zoom controls are now much smaller and don't have big "buttons" around them that hide part of the map.

    Quite pricey though, I may eventually get one but not at the premium price. Heh, was just looking at my records and I got the Oregon 450t shortly after its release. I was able to get a discount on it with a Best Buy coupon, but their regular price at that time (three years ago) was $600 - not so different from these Montana prices.
  • ddabcd277 47 Points
    Ok, major question. What chipset Montana is having?
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    Same as the Oregon (and 62) from what I've been advised.
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    I saw speculation that it could be the MTK (like the eTrex series), due to the other support chips that were visible on the gov't website. But otherwise I'd assume it would be the STM chipset since that's the direction Garmin is going with all the new series (Oregon, Dakota, GPSMap 62, etc).
  • ddabcd277 47 Points
    Thanks guys. Well if the rumors are true that the chipset is simmilar to the one in Oregon ST Micro Cartesio that will be great! I think the chipset on Oregon is better in many ways than surf 3 which is the one in GPSMAP 60csx. The thing I miss most on Oregon is the not possibility of using external antena like it was in 60csx. I saw on the accessories of Montana that external antena exist so I think this is one more advantage.
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    At GPSCity they are advertising the Montana 600 as being in stock on June 3 - that's earlier than I expected. So I guess we should start seeing some user reports pretty soon.
  • gatorguy 224 Points
    I forget where now, but someone else had mentioned June 2 release.

    Personally I'm looking forward to reports from some real owners. So far everything looks encouraging.
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    GPSCity is now advertising June 27 availability for the Montana 600. Amazon says 1 to 2 months. Guess we'll have to wait for those user reviews. :)
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    This video makes the Garmin Montana screen look very nice:



    I have no idea what that guy is saying, but the video makes it look like the backlight is comparable in brightness to a Nuvi. And it also makes it look like the screen is at least as good - maybe better - than the GPSMap 62 using ambient light and no backlight.

    If so, that would be a major accomplishment for Garmin. The video certainly makes it look like the Montana screen is a big improvement over the Oregon and Dakota.
  • jwells 0 Points
    I have the 650t since last week (I'm in italy).

    the screen in incredible, you can perfectly see it under direct sunlight (with backlight off).
    I can compare the screen to the iPhone 4 and visibility is much much better under the summer sun.

    the unit is quite big but it's perfect in the hand and the touch interface is right size for a finger.

    ask me what you want, I've installed europe citynavigator, italian trekmap and bluechart G2 vision.
    Actually I'll have to ask you some things, I only had a nuvi 200 so I'm lost in settings and menu
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Excellent - thanks for posting! Over at the Groundspeak GPS forums there are a couple early adopters who have said the same thing. However they are reporting some bugs (to be expected, based on Garmin's track record with new models). The most major problem seems to be that the compass cannot be calibrated, despite people trying all kinds of different things. Another report says the Montana freezes when inserted into the car cradle. They are also reporting much shorter battery life than Garmin claims.

    Nevertheless - I still want one. :D But I will wait awhile for prices to drop and bugs to be fixed. Please keep us updated on your impressions.
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    From one of the developers on Garmin's support forum... here's another reason to get a Montana. :D
    Garmin Montana supports 500 custom map images

    Many of you have requested the ability to load more than 100 jpeg of Garmin Custom Maps onto your GPSes. We were able to increase this limit to 500 on the new Garmin Montana. If you're a heavy user of Custom Map, you might want to check it out.

    As always, this affects the total number of jpegs inside all the kmz files. The number of kmz file doesn't matter.
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Well... my Montana arrived this evening. :) The auto cradle seems to be out of stock everywhere, mine is not supposed to ship until August 1, so I jury-rigged one using an old universal Bracketron clamp-on in the car.

    Haven't really had a chance to put it through its paces yet, but it's a real beauty. The hardware looks and feels great. BIG though - almost too thick to be clamped my in Bracketron mount.

    Screen is fantastic. It appears to be on par with my 60csx when the backlights are off - the 60csx might have a little better contrast. I don't think I've ever seen a transreflective screen as nice as this. The backlight is really bright - as much as any of the Nuvi's.

    I have not upgraded firmware (unit has 2.3 on it) even though a few updates have come out. Reading the discussion on another site, the new versions are breaking other things. I haven't seen a crash or any major problems, so I'm gonna give the software team a little more time before updating.

    Will have more to add later, but this is one very impressive unit. There's almost no limit to what can be customized. I think that Gator is right in his comment above... the Montana really is the "pro" unit that we've been waiting for. In the "on the trail" section at garmin.com it says, "You spoke. We listened."

    I think they really did this time. :)
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    edited July 2011
    Here are my attempts at some screen comparisons. These were just taken with my iPhone out in the woods, and the photos don't really do justice to any of the screens. But you can get some general idea of how the Montana compares.

    The first two shots were taken in direct mid-afternoon sunlight with the backlights OFF on all units. I have installed the same map on all units (beta version of my new map of NJ):

    image


    image


    Holding any of these units at just the right angle can make a significant difference, and that is hard to capture in an impromptu shot like this. But you can see that the poor Oregon 400t is really out of its league in this company (although in real life I don't think it looks quite so bad). The 60csx screen is still the champ of reflective screens, but the difference between the Montana is really very slight, and the higher resolution more than makes up for any other differences. The Montana screen is just beautiful in the direct sun and no backlight is needed. Should help a lot with battery life.

    This next shot was taken in direct sun with all backlights ON. I have added the 3790 to the mix here (no point in putting it in the other shot because it's not transreflective).

    image


    And this final shot was taken in diffuse light - the worst case condition for the Oregon. Here the Montana wins hands down. The backlight on the 60csx is so weak that it makes no difference, although I suspect it would look better if I adjusted the angle a bit.


    image


    The forum software automatically reduces the size of these images to fit. You will get a better idea of how the screens compare by looking at the full resolution photos, which can be done by right-clicking any of the images above and opening them in a new tab or window.
  • sussamb 671 Points
    Wow, Boyd, the Montana sure looks BIG ... too big for comfortable trail walking do you think? Looks great though!
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Yes, it definitely is large! But in the car, I am not really happy with a screen less than 4". The size is largely due to the battery compartment and the ability to use AA batteries (it uses 3). Could have kept it thinner by only using the Lithium Ion battery, but the dual power option was a good idea.

    Initially the size worried me, but I'm learning to like it. Fits nicely in my jeans pocket in fact. Wish they provided a way to attach a belt clip or carabiner though. I rigged my own, cut from an old camera strap.

    In the end though, it's all about the screen - which is spectacular. But the Oregon may be a better choice for some uses.

    image
  • sussamb 671 Points
    Nice mod! Can't wait for your full report :wink:
  • embalse 0 Points
    Does the auto cradle charge the batteries on the Montana when driving?

    Thanks.
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Yes, I'm sure it does (if you are using the supplied rechargeable battery). Unfortunately, I can't try this myself since nobody has the auto cradle in stock (have been waiting for mine since Aug 12) :evil:

    I can verify that it does charge the battery when you use a standard USB power supply in the car however.
  • sussamb 671 Points
    US ahead of us again, not even August here yet :lol: :wink:
  • Boyd 1795 Points
    Yeah, I'm always a little ahead of the curve. :D

    Sorry, meant July 12... but I hope I actually have the cradle by Aug 12.
  • sussamb 671 Points
    I'm with you there :)
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