Foretrex 101/201


Foretrex 101/201
Page Type Gear Review
Object Title Foretrex 101/201
Manufacturer Garmin
Page By CharlesD
Page Type Mar 10, 2005 / Jan 24, 2007
Object ID 1277
Hits 7794

Product Specifications

I've listed these two products together because they are almost identical except in one key feature: batteries. The 101 model uses a pair of AAA batteries while the 201 model uses a rechargable lithium cell. For multi-day, backcountry use, the former may be a better idea. For day-trips, the latter may be better. The product description below is for the 101.

This full-function, easy-to-use wrist-top navigator weighing in at a mere 2.6 oz. is lighter than many sport watches!

* Simple, single-hand operational system features six ergonomically situated buttons that intuitively guide you through functions

* Navigate for up to 15 hours on two AAA batteries (based on typical use)

* WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) enabled receiver delivers accuracy within 3 meters or better

* For the mariner, sail race feature allows you to configure the start countdown sequence with audible alerts at each start phase

* View route and follow it back with Garmin's exclusive TracBackĀ® feature

* Navigate 20 reversible routes; stores 500 waypoints with name and graphic symbols and 10,000 trackpoints

* Trip computer calculates current, average and maximum speed; also tracks trip time and calculates distance

* Computer-compatible design allows you to load waypoints and routes directly from your computer (cable sold separately)

* Waterproof construction, meets IEC 529 lPX7 standard (functional after 30 minutes submerged in 1 meter of water)

* High-contrast screen with bright (orange!) LED backlighting for use in low-light conditions



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CharlesD - Mar 12, 2005 8:32 pm - Voted 5/5

Detailed Review
After several weeks of use and several field tests, I've upped the rating on this GPS from four to five stars. The number of features and little gee-whiz extras on this unit never ceases to amaze me.

First of all, this really is a wrist-top GPS. You really can wear it like a (large) watch and it doesn't particularly get in the way. This is an advantage since you are more likely to actually use the GPS which is ready-to-hand than the one stowed in your pack or belt-pouch. If you're a righty wearing it on your left wrist, the buttons are very accessible. Lefties... your mileage may vary.

I was originally concerned that this GPS would skimp on functionality and features to fit it in the small package. No skimping is evident. The screen is small but quite functional. Since this unit doesn't support basemaps or support uploaded topos, screen size is less of an issue. There are only six buttons which makes menu navigation less efficient than is perhaps optimal; entering waypoint names and coordinates takes a bit of patience. More buttons (perhaps 4-way rocker types seen on larger units) would probably make things faster, but would interfere with the size and waterproofness of the unit.

Garmin's operating system and user interface has had lots of time to evolve and this unit features (as far as I can tell) all of the same functions as larger units. There are many different screens and display formats including a lot of user-customizable data fields. It takes a few hours of initial fiddling to learn your way around all the different screens and options, but with practice you can perform in-the-field operations without seeming too antisocial and geeky. The GPS may not be the right choice for your technophobe Amish cousins, but for those comfortable with digital watches, cells phones, and programming their VCRs, it should be no problem.

In terms of functionality, the Foretrex locked onto up to seven satellites in under a minute on initial startup. It maintained contact through moderate tree-cover and only lost it completely for a few hundred yards in heavier tree cover. The Tracback function works very nicely (once you figure out how to use it) and it successfully navigated me from home to work (set waypoint, navigate to it) and from work to home (retrace previous track).

The unit has an advertised 15 hour battery life; eight hours of run-time in above-freezing temperatures left me at 3/4 bars on the battery indicator (850 mA-h NiMH rechargables). You can tell it whether you're using NiMH or Li-ion batteries and it will adjust the expected 'full battery' voltage accordingly.

An issue I haven't explored yet is PC interface capabilities. The 201 unit comes with a recharging stand and PC serial cable. The 101 requires a separate, non-standard serial cable which I haven't been able to find except through Garmin. Whether or not this will interface with my Macintosh is anyone's guess.

All in all, I am quite satisfied.

skagitteam - Feb 5, 2007 11:19 pm - Voted 4/5

So so
Of course you can't expect full features from a small GPS like this, but the performance of this has been largely disappointing for me. The design is great in terms of the feature set, but I have trouble with signal strength on a regular basis. By way of example, I get virtually no signal in the North Cascades unless I am on a ridge or summit, presumably because the surrounding peaks prevent the triangulation necessary to make a connection. A different, but oddly related problem arises in urban environments, where I wanted to use it for running. Want to know your speed in Central Park? Not going to happen with this thing, the midtown buildings block the signal.

The one great use that I've found for this is for sailing. If your boat is either too crappy or you are too cheap (or, like me, both) for quality electronics, this thing does a great job with basic navigational and performance stats. Otherwise, I recommend a higher quality GPS.

thebeave7 - Feb 10, 2007 7:18 pm - Voted 5/5

Great Value
I've owned the Foretrex 201 for almost 4 years now and have used it for all kinds of activities. Its primary function is for running, and it works ok for this. I don't like how there is no stop watch or lap timer, but if that was the most important thing I would have bought a Forerunner. I get good reception in both urban and trial settings, though do lose signal in dense trees. Barely notice the unit while running/hiking/climbing, and the buttons are really easy to use.
The biggest advantage of this style is the replaceable batteries and the wrist mounting, which has me actually using the unit when I have it. I like something simple and functional, no maps, no compass, no barometric pressure sensor. This baby has gotten me through white outs, desert hikes, ridgeline wanders and more. I usually get 6-8h on rechargeable batteries(temps are usually less than 50 though). A good value, very functional for what it is. I do hope that they upgrade the unit to include the new SiRF chipset, which I've used and is much more sensitive and gets better reception.

farrisgl - Mar 9, 2009 2:20 am - Voted 4/5

Pretty good GPS
I have had my 201 for over 4 years and find it very good for day hikes and cycling where it replaces my standard bike computer. I wish I had purchased the 101 only because the rechargeable batteries are a limitation on longer trips. It does not work well in canyons or dense forests and the batteries are only good for about 8 hours, but battery life continues to be a problem on the new GPS units which keeps me from replacing my 201.
If you are looking for only limited functions, this little unit is very good.

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