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The DriveTrack 71 - Garmin's coolest model you've never heard of

Well, maybe you've heard of it because I started a thread on its predecessor, the DriveTrack 70 when I first noticed it last year. But this is the new version, based on the DriveSmart 61 platform. In fact, the hardware is identical to the DriveSmart 61, they didn't even put so much as a different decal on it! Sitting next to my Drivesmart 61, the only way to tell them apart is removing the ball-mount adapter to see the hidden label. They are certainly maximizing their profit on this model.

This device is documented very poorly on Garmin's site and it wasn't clear exactly what the capabilities were, aside from dog tracking. And the user manual is a joke - it's a DriveSmart 61 manual with one section that says how to pair it with your astro for dog tracking. Absolutely no mention of other capabilities like Birdseye or Custom Maps. Amazon had a special discount offer for my credit card for purchases with "reward points", so I decided to take a chance and ordered one without much cash outlay. Just received it a few hours ago, but my first impression is that it's very cool! B-)

Garmin seems to be keeping this device a secret and only markets it to people who have their dog tracking handhelds and collars. Typical Garmin marketing strategy... if you have already spent a small fortune on the dog tracking hardware, then this is a way to get another $400 out of you. But they don't pitch it to the automotive or recreation market because then you might not buy a $700 GPSMap276cx. ;)

https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/601687

The device has 15.3gb of internal memory, and right out of the box there was 5gb free. The pre-loaded 100k US Topo takes up 3.3gb. I will probably delete that and archive it on my computer. I have several versions of this map already, and it's not all that great. Interesting that the 100k Topo is in the hidden .System folder and named gmapprom1.img. To confuse us further, user-installed maps go in the Garmin folder and not the Map folder like other automotive devices (although that might also work). Inside the Garmin folder you have Birdseye and CustomMaps folders, just like a handheld device.

I don't even have a dog, so those features don't interest me, and can easily be disabled by setting it to automotive mode.

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The only thing that sets the main menu apart from the DriveSmart 61 is the dogs icon.

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But as you dig into the menus, some differences become apparent. One nice feature is that you can add the map selection dialog to the tools menu on the main screen. This saves a lot of screen taps if you use multiple maps.

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But the big difference is the Custom Maps Layer.

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This device can use Garmin Custom Maps (.kmz files) just like a handheld. According to GarminDevice.xml, it supports a maximum of 400 custom map tiles. A big improvement over the 100 tile limit on many of the handhelds, but not as good as the 500 tile limit on the Montana and a couple other premium handhelds. One nice feature is that you can enable/disable individual Custom Map files in the menu, unlike many of the handhelds where all Custom Maps are globally enabled/disabled.

The Custom Maps layer also supports Garmin Birdseye imagery, and the device includes a free one year-subscription. Have not tried that yet, but will soon. I have tried two of my custom maps, they work well and look great on the seven-inch 1024x600 screen.

Here's a 19th century topo map from my site: https://boydsmaps.com/cooks-map-of-the-pines-hd/

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And here's my contemporary topo: https://boydsmaps.com/boyds-map-of-the-pines-hd/

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So I think this will be a very nice vehicle GPS for my kind of use, I especially like the ability to combine traditional Garmin vector based maps (.img files) with raster imagery (.kmz and .jnx files). I also plan to use the hack of creating my own Birdseye .jnx files. This will allow the loading of raster imagery with 50,000 tiles per layer and files as big as 4gb (compared with 400 tiles and 32mb for .kmz files).

I suppose I should be angry that Garmin doesn't offer this as a firmware option for my DriveSmart 61. But that would be expecting too much. ;) This device includes the Garmin 100k Topo for the whole US and a one-year Birdseye subscription. Those would cost $130 if purchased separately. And - surprise - the DriveTrack 71 is $130 more expensive than the DriveSmart 65. So, if someone is considering a new automotive device but also wants off-road features, I think it's worth considering.

Comments

  • Boyd 1966 Points
    edited March 10
    Couple more screenshots. Here's BIrdseye plus City Navigator. I only downloaded the standard quality for this test, because the high quality was taking forever. ;) The standard quality actually looks pretty good if you don't zoom in farther than 800 feet. Garmin thinks "Pines" is spelled "Pnes".

    image

    And here's a quick mashup I did, with my own roads and custom map theme plus my home-made Birdseye imagery. This hack works really well - I used OkMap to convert some NAIP imagery that I already had to .jnx files. There are three layers to this map: (1) my aerial imagery, (2) my roads and (3) City Navigator, which is invisible but still provides routing, search and all the usual automotive features. BTW, the .jnx format seems very efficient - my source file was a 100MB 8-bit GeoTIFF and the converted .jnx file is only 32MB.

    image

    Here's some different behavior... when you connect the device to your computer, it says a USB connection was detected and then counts down from 20 before it actually connects. There's a cancel button, but no way to immediately connect to USB... you have to wait 20 seconds before it even starts thinking about that. So it seems to take forever. >:P

    Regarding Birdseye, you can choose between the regular satellite imagery or the scanned USGS 24k topo maps (Birdseye Topo). That was a pleasant surprise, I thought these were different products.

    I went old-school and used Mapsource on Windows to send my road map to the DriveTrack. This created a folder named "Map", which worked fine. I wonder if Basecamp would have also created a Map folder, or if it would have used the existing Garmin folder?

    And as a side note.... I used my Mac with the new version of Basecamp that was just released and everything worked fine.
  • Boyd - please clarify. The DriveTrack71 comes with both Topo 100 and with City Navigator? Are they lifetime maps or will I have to pay for updates?

    I currently use the RV760LMT which does not play well with Topo maps. The Auto Zoom feature drives me nuts and cannot be turned off. Can auto zoom be disabled in the Drivetrack71? Does the Drivetrack have a slot for an SD or microSD card I could use to keep additional maps on?

    One of the things I do like about the RV760LMT is that I can set elevation as one of the fields - I live in the mountains and this feature comes in handy. Can I set custom fields in the Drivetrack71?

    Thanks in advance for your help. As you said, Garmin sure doesn't explain much about this unit. And they won't fix their new (but broken) version of Mapinstall......
  • t923347 426 Points
    Boyd said:


    Here's some different behavior... when you connect the device to your computer, it says a USB connection was detected and then counts down from 20 before it actually connects. There's a cancel button, but no way to immediately connect to USB... you have to wait 20 seconds before it even starts thinking about that. So it seems to take forever. >:P

    The DriveSmart 61 does the same thing.
  • Boyd 1966 Points
    t923347 said:

    The DriveSmart 61 does the same thing.

    My DriveSmart 61 does not do that. When I plug in the cable, it asks if I want to go into mass storage mode and I can answer "yes" or "no". The DriveTrack only has the "no" option and you have to wait 20 seconds if you want to go into mass storage mode. But my firmware is old on the DriveSmart 61, so maybe they "improved" this. X(

    Not a big deal, just a small annoyance, especially when I am making new maps and frequently sending them to the device as I work.
  • Boyd 1966 Points
    edited March 11

    Boyd - please clarify. The DriveTrack71 comes with both Topo 100 and with City Navigator? Are they lifetime maps or will I have to pay for updates?

    City Navigator is a lifetime map. I don't think Garmin sells any devices with City Navigator that aren't. But here's another example of how poorly documented this device is: when you look on their site, the name is just "DriveTrack 71", but it is actually a "DriveTrack 71 LMT-S" (with lifetime maps and smartlink traffic). Now, look at the name of the webpage though - in the browser tab it says "DriveTrack 71 MT-S"... they forgot the "L"!

    Anyway, look at the specs tab here, it says that map updates are included

    https://buy.garmin.com/en-US/US/p/601687#specs

    Now, regarding the 100k Topo... there are no updates for that. But you aren't missing anything, because Garmin doesn't update that map on any regular schedule. 7 or 8 years ago they updated it to use Navteq (HERE) roads, but AFAIK that is the only update to this product in many, many years.

    Yes you can choose elevation as an option on the map screen, I think all Garmin automotive devices have that option.

    And yes, it has a microSD card slot. Again, every Garmin automotive has had a card slot, going back to the first Nuvi about 20 years ago. :)

    And yes, you can turn off autozoom on the DriveTrack 71. All the new models have that option. I also have a Dezl 760, essentially the same as your RV 760. You can turn off autozoom on your GPS, but you need to know the trick. ;) See this:

    http://forums.gpsreview.net/discussion/comment/192594/#Comment_192594
  • Boyd 1966 Points
    Boyd said:

    Regarding Birdseye, you can choose between the regular satellite imagery or the scanned USGS 24k topo maps (Birdseye Topo). That was a pleasant surprise, I thought these were different products.

    Unfortunately, this is not true - Garmin fooled me here. :O) It lets me choose Birdseye Topo from the menu, but then when I try to download, it says I don't have a subscription.
  • t923347 426 Points
    Boyd said:

    t923347 said:

    The DriveSmart 61 does the same thing.

    My DriveSmart 61 does not do that. When I plug in the cable, it asks if I want to go into mass storage mode and I can answer "yes" or "no". The DriveTrack only has the "no" option and you have to wait 20 seconds if you want to go into mass storage mode. But my firmware is old on the DriveSmart 61, so maybe they "improved" this. X(

    Not a big deal, just a small annoyance, especially when I am making new maps and frequently sending them to the device as I work.
    Not the case for my DriveSmart 61

    https://imgur.com/a/84BGy7X
  • Boyd 1966 Points
    LOL... I started this thread because I felt the DriveTrack 71 was a pretty remarkable product that people might be interested in. And you want to niggle over the USB splash screen. :)) OK, that's fine. This is my DriveSmart 61. I like it better than your DriveSmart 61.

    image
  • alanb 533 Points
    Just out of curiosity, does it allow you to import tracks from BaseCamp like you can on a zumo and handhelds?
  • Boyd 1966 Points
    Oh, I'm sure it can't do that Alan. It's a DriveSmart with doggie software and raster imagery. It's not an outdoor device, there's no track manager or any "advanced" features like that.

    I think it's purpose is getting even more money from the people who use their dog system. That's why they bury it in the dog tracking section of the website, they wouldn't want anyone to buy a $400 DriveTrack instead of an $800 Zumo. And note that it cannot even communicate with the dog collars directly. It just makes a bluetooth connection to the Astro. They don't want to lose the sale of a handheld device.

    Garmin is all about segmenting and protecting their markets. A firmware update to the DriveSmart 61 would make it a DriveTrack 71. The hardware is identical. And I mean IDENTICAL. I need to mark one of them, because I literally cannot tell them apart and will probably grab the wrong one as I head out the door. :))

    Nevertheless, this is a very cool product, and the first time I've gotten excited by a dedicated GPS for quite a few years.
  • Zemartelo 202 Points
    Im just not seeing the connection between a car gps unit and dog tracking??
  • Boyd 1966 Points
    edited March 12
    Garmin's tag-line is "Track your pack from your truck". :))

    I frequently see hunters in trucks with plywood "kennels" full of dogs here in the pine barrens (my property borders on a Wildlife Management Area). But I don't really "get" the whole thing either. If you Google, you'll find some videos of the DriveTrack in the field (there are more of the previous model, the DriveTrack 70). Here's one from Down Under. ;)

  • privet01 205 Points
    edited March 12
    On Garmin's website, it's not marketed under any of their Automotive products. They list it under their Outdoor Recreation -> Sporting Dogs section. which makes sense to me, somewhat. Too bad it's not just a software upgrade you could buy for existing drivesmarts. But Garmin's not a software company.

    Just something extra for the chase vehicle.
  • deserteagle56 87 Points
    edited March 12
    Thank you for the helpful information, Boyd. I may not post on here very often...but I've been around a long time. I bought a Nuvi 5000 based on your recommendation years ago.
    Sounds like I may have to try the DriveTrack71. My RV760 lets me load and view Topo Maps but it freezes up a lot when doing so. Don't understand why the same maps that are loaded on my Montana show much more information when loaded on the large-screen RV760. Zoomed out, on the Montana they show nothing but topo lines but on the RV760 they give names to numerous physical terrain features and that is very helpful when I'm exploring in the outback.
  • Boyd 1966 Points
    edited March 12
    Glad to help. I still have my Nuvi 5000 - you have been around for quite awhile if you took my recommendation for that! I think I got mine around 2007 or 2008. :)

    Screen size is irrelevant when it comes to showing topo maps, it's all about the software. And Garmin has always crippled the Nuvi and Drive series that way. They *could* make it full compatible with topo maps, but then you wouldn't need an expensive handheld. Like I said, they are all about segmenting and protecting markets.

    I don't know why you have so many crashes with topo maps on the RV 760. My Dezl. 760 never crashed much. Are you using automotive mode with the topo maps? I think that would be more stable. A lot of this is related to how the topo maps are made too. I make my maps specifically for automotive devices, and they show little roads and details when you zoom way out. But I break all of Garmin's "rules", and I don't know anyone else who makes maps like this. However, automotive devices are "hard-wired" not to show most topo map POI's and there is just no way around that. :(

    Lots screenshots of my map here, including the nuvi 5000, Dezl 760 and DriveSmart 61. These won't help you out in the desert, but if you ever come to the Mid-Atlantic, check them out. :)

    https://boydsmaps.com/boyds-map-of-new-jersey-2018/

    The DriveTrack 71 renders topo maps exactly the same as the DriveSmart 61 - which is also the same as the Dezl 760. So you shouldn't buy it if you expect a Garmin topo map to look better. It's an automotive device with some extra features.

    The real strength of the DriveTrack is raster imagery - Birdseye and Custom Maps (.kmz files). And it's great for layering traditional Garmin vector maps on top of this. But that is my assessment as a map-maker, and not an ordinary user. I can make special maps that work really well on this, but that's just me. :)

    If you use raster imagery on this device, the ugly roads from the basemap are drawn on top . You can disable the basemap on a Garmin handheld, but not on an automotive device (although I guess you could delete it). I made a big 'blank map" to hide the ugly basemap. That works well, but probably beyond the ability of most users. Here's some of my home-made Birdseye, based on USDA NAIP imagery (1 meter/pixel)

    image

    Now, my blank map is built such that it will also hide the City Navigator map. I am liking this, because you can use all the City Navigator features, but without all the clutter on the screen - you just see the pink route line.

    image

    So - as a mapmaker - this really is a great device for me. For anyone else... it depends on what you expect. The screen is beautiful, and it's the biggest, highest resolution screen that Garmin offers on any device. But with standard Garmin topo maps, it won't be any better than a DriveSmart 61, and you can get those as refurbs in the $150 to $200 range.
  • Boyd 1966 Points
    edited March 12
    privet01 said:

    On Garmin's website, it's not marketed under any of their Automotive products.

    As I said in my first post:

    "Garmin seems to be keeping this device a secret and only markets it to people who have their dog tracking handhelds and collars. Typical Garmin marketing strategy... if you have already spent a small fortune on the dog tracking hardware, then this is a way to get another $400 out of you. But they don't pitch it to the automotive or recreation market because then you might not buy a $700 GPSMap276cx.
  • privet01 205 Points
    edited March 12
    Yeah, I realized you said that. I was just putting a different spin on it for those responses that didn't seem to understand it wasn't a true automotive product as Garmin nuvi's, drives, drivesmarts and etc are..

    I can't really blame Garmin for marketing it as they do either, regardless of my comments about software.
  • Boyd said:



    I don't know why you have so many crashes with topo maps on the RV 760. My Dezl. 760 never crashed much. Are you using automotive mode with the topo maps? I think that would be more stable.

    Perhaps "crash" is not the right word. What happens is that when I have the RV760 set at around .5 miles zoom and I've driving along using either maps from gpsfiledepot or the Garmin 24k maps, after a while the scrolling map begins turning into a blank gray screen. If I zoom out to say, 1.2 miles the gray goes away and the map displays normally. It's like the unit just doesn't have enough computing power or memory to feed the screen properly at higher zoom levels. I read somewhere that the DriveTrack 71 has more computing power and I'm hoping that will fix the problem.

    And yes, I do use automotive mode. I got this unit to use with my truck/camper combo but rarely use the RV mode. Not too many low overpasses or other things like that to worry about where I live!

  • Boyd 1966 Points
    edited March 16
    Interesting... never saw anything like that on my Dezl 760. But yes, the DriveTrack 71 is the same hardware platform as the DriveSmart 61 and it's definitely very speedy. :)

    The DriveTrack 71 is also compatible with the free, open source Mobile Atlas Creator program that I use for my own maps. Mobile Atlas Creator also has built-in access to free topo maps and aerial imagery for the whole US from the USGS and Canadian topo maps from National Resources Canada. See my new tutorial here: https://boydsmaps.com/mobile-atlas-creator/
  • Boyd 1966 Points
    edited March 20
    Just did a 300 mile trip with the DriveTrack 71 yesterday and it worked like a champ, no problems at all. Used my own aerial imagery and custom road overlay for most of the trip and it was fine, even at highway speeds.

    image

    And I found one big difference from my DriveSmart 61. Garmin has finally improved the appearance of POI and favorites. The icons are much smaller and not as ugly - It's about time Garmin fixed this! :) Perhaps the DriveSmart 65 also has these new icons? The DriveTrack also seems to show more road names

    image


    image
  • sussamb 792 Points
    That does look better, the icons on my DS50 are certainly larger than needed.
  • Boyd 1966 Points
    edited March 20
    The interesting thing is, they only changed this on the map screen itself. When you do a search or view individual favorites, they are still the old, ugly kind. And if you edit one of your favorites and choose "Change Map Symbol", that also shows the old-style icons.

    I believe Garmin first introduced the new, ugly icons back in 2012. Took 7 years, but I'm glad they finally addressed this. I only installed minimal favorites on my DS61 because those big, ugly icons bothered me so much. Now I am going to put more of them on the DT71.
  • alanb 533 Points
    I have to agree that the smaller icons are a huge improvement. Much better, but still not as good as the old devices like the 7xx series. I never could figure out what Garmin was trying to accomplish with those huge ugly icons. I have yet to read a post from anyone that likes them.
  • Boyd 1966 Points
    edited March 20
    IIRC, the whole icon fiasco actually began with the 1xxx series. Those devices still used the old style icons, but they no longer showed the waypoint name. Then they changed this back with the 37xx series and started showing names and icons again. But I think they abandoned it all with the 35xx models and started using the big ugly, nameless icons.

    I think those new ones were specifically intended for 3d view, where they looked sort of like signposts. But this is no different from many things that Garmin does. They make a big deal out of "advanced pedestrian mode" with the 1xxx models, then quietly remove the feature completely in 2012 (?). Or they roll out the new "trip planner" with the 37xx devices that is a radical departure from traditional "routes" and can't exchange data with Basecamp. WTF did they do that? Who asked for a new, "improved" Trip Planner?

    Or why did they change the USB splash screen to make you wait 20 seconds before connecting to your computer? That one is really odd, since they made that change in the DriveSmart 61 firmware after the device was already on the market.

    And the list goes on and on... custom dashboards, user-defined speed limits, ecoroute....
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