I have been wanting to get a GPS unit for a long time– mainly to use for camping and hiking, but at other times too. As a geography major in college and someone who LOVES maps, liked compass work in Scouts, completed and served as an instructor of USAF survival training, etc– I think GPS technology is right up my alley. I am captivated by Google Earth and convinced we are going to see an explosion of GPS related web 2.0 technologies in the months and years ahead. I’m hunting for a GPS unit now, however, and found some good prices at WalMart this afternoon. I’m considering the Magellan Meridian Platinum GPS unit.

Magellan Meridian Platinum GPS

The main factors distinguishing it from other Magellan and Garmin options (at least at our Lubbock WalMart currently) are the fact that it:

  • Comes with 16 MB of built-in memory and maps pre-loaded.
  • Has an SD memory expansion card slot.
  • Can connect to a PC (serial cable) to download additional maps and content.
  • Has a built-in compass (handy for geo-caching apparently) as well as barometer and thermometer.
  • Is waterproof.

Although I primarily prefer using Macintosh computers, I do use Windows machines regularly (every day at work) and I have an older computer running XP that I could utilize for map transfers if needed. It doesn’t appear that any handheld GPS units (designed for hiking/camping) currently on the market are Macintosh compatible. Of course I’ve been eyeing the new Intel processor-based Macbooks which run WinXP via parallels or Apple boot camp, but I am not sure if a serial-USB adapter would work on the Magellan Meridian Platinum GPS unit. Even if/when I get a Macbook and there turns out to be compatibility problems with it running WinXP and a GPS unit I buy, I can find a way to work around that…. so that is not stopping my purchase at this point.

WalMart has the Meridian Platinum for $200, which seems like a great deal considering that feature set. The guy in sporting goods said they were about to get in a $900 unit that is just amazing, and will be more expensive than anything else they sell in their entire department (including all their gun models!) I want to get a GPS unit on the inexpensive end, but I would like something that I’m not going to “outgrow” quickly. My budget is in the $100 – $200 range, so more expensive models are definitely out of the picture for me at this point.

I found this helpful review of the Meridian Platinum (a pretty positive one) on the gpsinformation.us site. If you have any suggestions or guidance for me or others who may be considering purchase of a GPS device, please comment here! 🙂

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5 Responses to GPS Advice?

  1. I’ve found that comparing Garmin vs. Magellan is like comparing Mac vs. PC.

    Macs are more expensive… so are Garmins
    Macs are easier to use… so are Garmins
    Macs are cooler… so are Garmins (Colors & Features)
    Macs are easier for beginners… so are Garmins

    I’ve owned 3 Garmins
    eTrex Legend (Hiking)
    GPS V (Auto)
    & the Forerunner 201 (Biking)

    I say look hard at the Garmin gpsmap60csx

    (Now my good friend Nick will tell you Magellan is the only way to go…That’s like Mac vs. PC too)

    Glenn 🙂

  2. Chris Barker says:


    Great question, please share the results of your investigations as my wife Amy and I are planning a 10 day backpacking excursion in Colorado this summer. Our big hike will be 4-5 days around the Four Pass Loop outside of Aspen with some trout fishing at Snowmass Lake. Then we will probably do a few up and downs in the Gore Range.

    I have been considering a GPS but might hold off until next summers vacation. Nonetheless, let us all know what you find out.


  3. Wesley Fryer says:

    I definitely will Chris! I am bookmarking the good sites I’m finding on:


  4. Chris Barker says:

    Wes I stumbled upon this forum post and thought you might like to take a look at it. It turns out we are not the only hopeful Mac toting future GPS owners. Backpacker Magazine Forum

  5. Wesley Fryer says:

    Excellent, thanks! I also found this which indicates (as of Jan 2006) Garmin was planning Mac support.


    I don’t see indications of this yet on Garmin’s website, but buying a USB Garmin product looks like the safest best now for native company Macintosh support. Third party support looks OK, there are several Mac OS X native programs, but the WinXP workarounds people are suggesting look like the only way to go for full functionality at this point in terms of loading maps onto the GPS unit. I’m leadning towards a Garmin USB unit, like the GPSMAP 60CSx.


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