We’ve looked at rugged digital cameras, now let’s talk about rugged GPS. Garmin recently launched the Oregon 550 and Oregon 550t touchscreen handheld GPS devices. These GPS handhelds combine a 3.2 megapixel digital camera with a 3-axis compass and a 3-inch sunlight readable touchscreen display. What’s more, these GPS handhelds are waterproof.
As you might expect from a GPS device with a built-in camera, the Oregon 550 can automatically geotag photos with the location of where it was taken making it easy to mark, remember, and navigate back to a specific spot in the future. The handheld offers 850MB of internal memory to store your photos. For memory expansion, the Oregon 550 has a microSD card slot.
By connecting the Oregon 550 to your computer via USB, you can use my.Garmin.com to detect Oregon’s photos, select them, and upload them to your computer. You can also use the website to upload photos to Picasa.
The difference between the Oregon 550 and the Oregon 550t is that the later model adds preloaded 100K topo maps for the entire U.S. in 3D elevation perspective. Both models let you customize five profiles (automotive, marine, recreation, fitness, or geocaching) to provide the easiest access to the most useful features through shortcuts.
The Oregon 550 handhelds use a high-sensitivity, WAAS-enabled GPS receiver and HotFix satellite prediction to locate your position quickly and precisely. The handhelds can also maintain your GPS location even in heavy cover or deep canyons. You can store up to 2,000 waypoints, 200 routes, 5,000 geocaches, and a tracklog of up to 10,000 points and 200 saved tracks on the devices.
For use on a mountain, the Oregon 550 offers a built-in barometric altimeter to help you track changes in pressure and pinpoint your precise altitude. Should you wish to share waypoints, tracks, routes, and geocaches with other Oregon and Colorado handheld users, the Oregon 550 can do so wirelessly. For navigation through city streets, the optional City Navigator can provide detailed street maps, millions of preloaded points of interest, and onscreen turn-by-turn directions to your destination.
The Oregon 550 and Oregon 550t weigh approximately 6.8 ounces and come with two pre-charged AA NiMH batteries as well as a battery charger. These batteries will provide up to 16 hours of life on a single charge.