I have two GPSes; they are very different and made for different purposes. Ideally I’d like a GPS that had features from both, but I haven’t found it yet…
Garmin eTrex Venture
This was my first GPS; I’ve used it for all sorts of things like driving, cycling, walking and canal boating. For me its primary purpose is recording the route of where I’ve been so I can upload it to the computer, but its route-following capabilities make it very useful when going somewhere I have never been before. It has no road map, but I can upload a route plotted on the computer which gives me a line to follow and distances to the next turning, which is generally enough.
My biggest bugbear with this GPS is the tracklog capacity; it will store only 2,048 trackpoints, which will hold maybe two rides before filling up. If you’re going away for a weekend it’s just not enough, so I’ve sometimes had to take a laptop in the car just to get the tracks off it.
Garmin Edge 205
This is a fairly recent addition, bought mainly for the extra accuracy of the better chipset in newer GPSes. The increase in accuracy is very noticeable; I have never yet seen it lose signal even in dense woodland on steep hillsides, and when uploaded to the computer the track is far cleaner. Another big plus for me is that it stores far more trackpoints; on a week long biking holiday of roughly 30 off-road miles a day it went 6 days before wrapping; it will last a weekend with no difficulty at all.
Whereas the Venture is a fairly general purpose unit, the Edge is far more specialised; it will not tell you your position in anything but latitude and longitude, so it’s pretty useless as a navigational aid. There are rumours that this facility will appear in a future firmware update, but I’m not holding my breath. It does waypoints and routes but you have to enter them using a computer and so far I haven’t found any software that will let me do this before I tear my hair out in frustration. Besides, the screen is much smaller so wouldn’t be as nice to use in the car as the Venture anyway.
The Edge also has an internal battery as opposed to the Venture which takes two AAs, so you can’t carry spare batteries for when it gets low. I’ve used it for three cycling weekends away - Snowdonia, the Lakes and Dartmoor - and it has lasted the weekend, but it was getting a bit close each time.
With the Venture you just have to turn the thing on to make it start recording the track; with the Edge you have to start the timer as well. It’s easy to forget to start the timer, so I have a few tracks where I’ve missed the beginning of the ride because of this.
It is slightly annoying that both GPSes have features I like but flaws that make them not quite perfect. I have at times used both at once; the Edge for recording the track and the Venture for navigating. The Edge is really more of a souped-up bike computer, so is best used as such; if I know pretty much where I’m going I’ll take the Edge, but if I have to use the GPS in conjunction with a map or follow a predefined route that I am unfamiliar with I will take the Venture.
If somebody made a GPS like the Venture but with a more accurate chipset, or one like the Edge that could report your position as an Ordnance Survey grid reference, I would be there like a shot.