GARMIN 64s /64st subjective and meandering review. Bottom-line: The GPSMAP 64s smokes the GPSMAP 62s hands down if you like to have lots of capacity for geocaches and you use GSAK or other popular geocache management solutions. How many? Well theoretically 6 million, but it's not about the numbers
FWIW: the 64s (4GB) and the 64st (8GB) both have been through several iterations and seem to be stabilizing nicely. The firmware out of the box was 2.40 and the system was not behaving well on first power on. Part of the problem is that they don't tell you that you need to be VERY PATIENT while it reads preloaded stuff (more about this later). So don't get antsy! It's working, you just need to wait for it! After boot up, and connection to Bootcamp, the system will update to 3.10 as of 9/2014.
The blue tooth doesn't really do anything useful yet, but I suspect it's just a matter of time. There is a fairly immature iphone app version of basecamp mobile that may be where they're gonna go. The Android version is coming, or may already be in Beta testing.
The interesting thing about the Garmin 64s and 64st are that both support the GGZ file format in addition to the GPX format. I believe that people trying to geocache with both simultaneously seem to have problems. Out of the box, the 64s and 64st come preloaded with 250,000 Geocaching.com geocaches. That's not a typo. So, they're clearly NOT pimping OC.com too much anymore. I find it interesting that Ground Speak consented to such an enormous preload. Anyway, the unit I played with had a single 364MB GGZ file containing the 250K+ geocaches called PRELOAD and dated earlier this year 2014, March I think.
The rub is that you aren't able to freshen those caches, at least not that I was able to find in the short time I had to fondle the unit. However, the GGZ format is now fully supported by GSAK on these new units! Very cool, since you can now export any number of geocaches to your 64, or any newer Garmin GPSr unit supporting the GGZ format. Exporting 25,000-30,000 caches is much quicker than you think too. 250,000 takes about twenty minutes in case you're interested I didn't measure, but I believe the 64s/64st have upgraded USB to 3.0 and the mSD has been upgraded to handle higher speed and capacity too. Because you cannot update GGZ files, at least not now, it's no big deal to just nuke the previous file and replace it with a new one just like we do with GPX files. If you really want a worldwide database of 250,000+ geocaches, by all means copy it off and archive it.
GPX based caches on the 64s and 64st are still limited to 5000, I believe, but I couldn't test that to see if the number was bumped. Like with GPX's the GGZ format requires a hefty wait time for the 64s/64st to boot load the first time after a refresh, but thereafter it boots up fairly quickly. 250,000 caches definitely takes about 20 -25 minutes for the 64s/64st to boot up the first time. But, you've got a QUARTER MILLION GEOCACHES in the palm of your hand! That's even enough for Kirbydox cross country trips! Or Nov64's epic adventures globe hopping
I know of no way to get PQ's in the new GGZ format directly from GC.com...yet. But, maybe it's coming since it's so much more efficient that GPX format for storage of geocaches. Why is GGZ better than GPX? Well think of a GGZ file as a compressed zip of many geocaches. Esentially that's what it is generally speaking. And the new Garmin units, at least the higher end ones, seem to be supporting the format efficiently. GPX files are effectively uncompressed XML text data files. They aren't very efficient, and they take up a lot of space. For now, GSAK, or one of the other emerging geocache manager programs out there, will have to do.
In other respects, I will subjectively say that the 64s and 64st were snappier in performance overall vs the 62s/62st, moving through the menus, which seemed largely the same on 62 and 64 families. The GLONASS addition seemed to make a difference in locking onto the satellites quickly, and the units performed very well. The 64s/64st held to compass COG waypoints noticeably better than the 62s, with nowhere near as much indecision, or bouncing, after both units were calibrated.
I'm really big on the tracks functionality too, and I will say that if you too like to keep a recording of your trails and such, the 64 is markedly more accurate than the already impressive 62s recording tracks.
Both units are IPX7 waterproof, which means it can handle 1 meter dunking briefly and still work afterwards.
All accessories are identical so you won't need to change any mounts or stuff like that. Booyah! The 64s and 64st are physically identical in dimensions and weight to the 62s and 62st. There is no camera version of the 64 that I know of. It does have the ability to share photos with a Garmin Virb action camera wirelessly, Bluetooth I presume.
The bluetooth sync'd very quickly and easily with my iPhone, but again I am unsure what use that is presently. It would be really nice to be able to freshen caches sometime really soon!
You can still share geocaches and waypoints with other garmin units that support wireless sharing. This feature has come in handy multiple times amongst 62s users I've cached with.
Battery life isn't quite as good as the 62s (20-30hrs) on 2-AA NiMH eneloop battery's. They say the 64s /64st will get 16hrs on the same batteries. I'm guessing the lower operating time is due to considerably more built-in memory, faster communications, Bluetooth, and a faster processor. There is an option for some kind of special rechargeable battery, but I know nothing about that.
If like me, you like having the external antenna jack, you'll be glad to know it's still there on the 64s/64st.
Honestly the screen seemed the same to me, not great but always good enough for me in the daylight.
Buttons are the same. Good buttons. I like buttons. I can manipulate my GPSr by feel, something I haven't mastered with touch screens Plus I always fat finger touch screens somehow...the things confound me. I use my phone to log anyway and I like to dictate them as I go. The GPSr just notes found or dnf and a time/date confirmation in case my phone dies or something. It's pretty easy to hit FOUND IT after all.
My advice is to pick either the gpx format or the GGZ format, but don't mix the two or things get wonky.
I hope anyone finds this useful.
More if I think of anything else. In the mean time, 64s/64st get two thumbs up from me.
Edited by KeyResults, 08 September 2014 - 12:18 AM.
Why am I all sweatty and late? Umm...