The GPSMAP 76CSx is is a high quality unit, built very rugged to ensure its compliance to the IPX7 standard, which among other things means that it is waterproof. Looks and feels good, and acquires quickly. The display is somewhat too small to take advantage of installed maps. This Garmin GPS is considered as dual purpose GPS, can be used on land and sea.
Tested hardware and software
The test was done using a Garmin GPSMAP 76CSx bought off the shelf, with an Atlantic/European basemap. To get decent map coverage the Mapsource City Navigator Europe maps were added. In order to test its usefulness in a car, a car kit was used.
The GPSMAP 76CSx has undergone a burn-in test, in which it was operating 16 hours a day. It has been exposed to and operated in heavy rain and cold as far North as The North Cape in Norway.
It has a color screen and through the use of memory cards the ability to increase the map space to whatever capacity micro-SD/transflash cards come in. It is necessary to use a 4Gb card for all the City Navigator Europe version 9 maps, and it fits on the 4Gb card together with the necessary route indexing data needed for navigation. Be advised that loading all of Europe onto the 4Gb memory card takes several hours. The GPSMAP 76CSx has a maximum map set size limit of 1024, but it is currently not an issue, as all of Europe is made up of a total of 600 maps. It needs 2 AA size batteries.
The ability of the SIRF III chip in the GPSMAP 76CSx to find and use available GPS satellites is impressive. It seems better at picking up the satellite radio signals than previous Garmin units.
The GPSMAP 76CSx is rugged. It is obviously built to be able to handle nature, and not just nature at its best.
The GPSMAP 76CSx conforms to the IPX7 standard, which means that it can be held at 1 meter water depth for 30 minutes without problems.
The GPSMAP 76CSx swims. If dropped in water it doesn't sink.
The use of micro-SD memory cards makes it very easy to upgrade to a higher map capacity. The unit is currently being tested using a 4Gb memory card, and the increased memory size doesn't seem to make the unit slower.
There is not much maintenance of the unit - a damp cloth will usually do the trick.
The built-in USB 2.0 interface makes map updating much faster than you normally see in NMEA-compliant GPS receivers. This does not mean that you won't have to wait - loading a 512Mb memory card with maps can take an hour.
Garmin offers a pc webupdater program which checks for firmware updates to the unit as well as the SIRF chip when the Garmin is connected to the pc, and the pc is connected to the Internet. Updates fix issues with the unit so it's important to get the new upgrades as they come.
The GPSMAP 76CSx has a setup option to distinguish between the use of Alkaline batteries or NiMH rechargeable accumulators. NiMH accumulators are routinely used in this test and are recommended to cut operating costs.
The Garmin GPSMAP 76CSx is a high quality GPS receiver. It gives you a location quickly after power on, and is rugged. It is also going longer on a pair of batteries than you normally see in handheld units. The screen is large enough for map reading. The use of micro-SD/transflash memory cards for maps gives it an even better map capacity. It doesn't seem to be slower with a 4Gb card with the complete European maps and navigational indexes loaded than it is with the supplied 128Mb card.