Garmin 62s

The Garmin 62s vs the Garmin 60CSx

April 2011


I’m on my third replacement GPSMap 60CSx, and although it has been working well for over a year now, I thought I would get ahead of the game and buy a new unit (I’m pretty sure the                                 failures were the fault of a loose mount and not product defects.) In any case, I bought a GPSMap 62s, and have been using it for several weeks.

The GPSMap 62 series came out about a year ago, and one supposes that the 60CSx’s will be phased out, although there still seems to be a good supply on offer at a considerable discount. No matter what you buy,                                 you will have to buy a new set of maps. Garman is very persnickety, and a bit paranoid about this stuff — so add $75 or so to the cost.

There are three choices: GPSMap 62, 62s, and 62st. The 62 lacks a place to add a microSD card to increase memory, but this is not a serious limitation, since it comes with 1.7 GB on board, enough for everything East                                 of the Mississippi, I’d guess. Unfortunately, it also lacks a barometric altimeter, which the 60CSx has, and this I feel is a serious limitation, since there is no way to tell how hilly a ride has been. The only                                 substantial difference between the 62s and 62st is that the 62st has Topo 100k maps preloaded — for some reason this reduces the on-board memory to 500 MB instead of the 1.7 GB for the 62 and 62s. I consider the                                 62s the only real choice for a cyclist.

Some features, such as the the display on the 62s are improvements over the 60CSx: a few represent a backward step in my opinion. It is a matter for individual judgment whether or not the unit is better over all.                                 Except for the display, I don’t think it is myself, but each to his fancy.

Anyone hoping for more than 50 vias on a route will be disappointed. The limit remains at 50. Garman advertises 250 points, which is really false advertising. The 60CSx manual clearly states that there is a 50 point                                 limit for “on road” routes. The 60s manual does not, and thus leads unsuspecting customers to expect what is not there. I called Garmin about this, and the guy I talked to was confused as well — he asked                                 around and his colleagues seemed confused too.

Physically the 62s and the 60CSx are within a gnat’s eye of being the same size. The appearance of the units is very similar and the keys at the bottom are the same. A different bicycle mount is required                                 nonetheless. The case of the 62s is waterproof and the neoprene surface has a pleasant rubbery feel — I suspect it will bounce well in a fall. The bicycle mount has a roller to ease the unit into the mount instead                                 of bending the plastic: I have had a number of mounts for the 60CSX fail due to cracks.

The batteries are held much more tightly than on the 60CSx, and are a little difficult to remove. This is good, since some of our Club members have had problems with loose batteries on the 60CSx.

The most important difference between the 60s and the 60CSx is the display. Roads and lines are much more visible on the 60CSx. The lines are thicker and the turns on a route are signaled with a large white arrow                                 that starts well before a turn. Other things seem to have been done to the guidance program, and all and all it is very satisfactory. Out of the box, the background is dark, but this is due to an attempt to                                 show something about terrain. A menu item allows this to be turned off, and the background becomes white and the display shines out. Even with glare from the sky bouncing off the glass of the display, the roads                                 are well defined. There are a variety of beeps, which are user selectable, that work well in announcing interesting events: I have the “off course” sound set to give me a raspberry.

I read in the discussion lists that the unit has about the same sensitivity to the satellites as the 60CSx. However, it acquires the satellites more rapidly and does this from inside my house, while the 60CSx is                                 unable to acquire them at all from there. It is very slow in acquiring satellites the first time or after a system reset, but subsequently the acquisition is rapid. One can account for this by supposing that it                                 starts the satellite search from the position at the last shut down, instead of searching from a default location. The battery lasts considerably longer on the 62s.

The unit has a couple of new menus and functionalities: Alarm clock, Sight and Go, Area Calculation, and Wireless Transfer. It contains no games. In general the displays are superior to those of the 60CSx. The manual                                 is downloadable as a pdf, and you may check these out if you are interested. By the way, the manual is no longer shipped with the device: a cost cutting measure that does a disservice to Garmin’s customers. The                                 manual is also less satisfactory, lacking many things that appear in the 60CSx manual.

Downloading a route is done just like on the 60CSx, via the “Send To Device” icon or menu item on the transfer tab. However, the “Receive From Device” icon or menu item on the transfer tab,                                 no longer works for routes — it does work for the current track, but not for saved tracks. To get a route from the 60s , one must load a .gpx file from the device via the “open” menu item, just as if one                                 were loading a file from the hard disk.

Garmin is apparently moving to regularize its file system. The 62s, when plugged in, is recognized as a usb mass storage device with a drive letter assigned on the PC. As such, one does not need a program like                                 MapSource or BaseCamp to move a .gpx file to the unit — simply dragging the file will work.

One final item, and a very important one in my opinion, is the ability to switch between on and off road guidance with the 62s. When navigating, a press of the “FIND” key brings up a menu with an                                 item that makes this switch. In practice, one can mark the ends of a trail and perhaps some points on it, with vias and when one reaches the trail head, switch to “off road” guidance and the unit will                                 guide you from via to via directly. At the end of the trail, simply switch back to “on road” guidance.