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Not necessarily. In addition to adding features on new models, Garmin also has a reputation for removing features that some people liked that were on older models. One example is the DEM map (digital elevation map). It shows terrain features when navigating in 3D mode. It was included on some higher end nuvi models starting in about 2012, but is not included on any of the newest Drive series. Also, some folks were quite upset several years ago when Garmin removed the MP3 and audio book players....
Is my assumption correct that this last unit will have the most advanced (or best looking?) software? Will it also be supported for the longest time? I'm curious.
As far as supporting old units, Garmin has a pretty good reputation for providing technical assistance, even on devices that are quite old and long out of warranty. New models get frequent software updates to work out the bugs. Usually after a year or two the software is pretty stable, so software updates for the older devices are rare but do happen occasionally. And map updates are still available for most devices in the nuvi series, some of which are now over 10 years old.
I think you will find Smartphone Link Traffic superior in both accuracy and coverage compared to the HD traffic with the GTM-60. I have both on my nuvi 3597LMTHD and there is no HD coverage at all in my local driving area, but the Smartphone Link coverage is quite good.
The main advantage of HD traffic with the GTM-60 is that it doesn't need a cellular signal, the smartphone, or its data allotment. However wherever there is no cellular signal you will find that there is no HD traffic coverage either.
Some handheld devices have a magnetic compass that kicks in when the speed falls below a certain threshold (2 or 3 MPH). When moving faster than this it uses the incremental track points (breadcrumbs as you say) to determine heading.
Most (maybe all) Garmin automotive devices just use motion and don't have a magnetic compass. Under certain conditions, it can actually cause the heading to change when stopped (because of drift or false readings). Sometimes in 3D or track up navigation mode it will cause the map display to rotate. In North Up mode your vehicle icon will rotate.
If you have a backup, I would be tempted to make a new clone and re-do the map update. Either that, or copy the old version of garmindevice.xml to your nuvi, fire up GE and reupdate the map on the nuvi itself.
Any modern Garmin handheld will do what you describe (set waypoints, record your track so you can backtrack to the starting point), so I am unclear why you think it won't. Maybe I don't fully understand what you are trying to do. That said, if all you want is a second device as a backup to do the same thing you are doing with your smartphone, why not just buy another cheap outdated smartphone? No cell plan, data plan or sim is required. Just use the wifi to install any apps or maps you want and use the GPS function for recording your hike.