Hi all. Sorry, I decided to shut off all digital communication for a few badly needed days of unpluggedness.
Re: The Digital Compass
The digital compass has progressed rather nicely and has improved substantially since the 60 series Garmin handheld receivers. For one thing, they became triaxial, which meant it no longer needed to be held flat to render an accurate bearing. To render an accurate direction, however, it requires regular calibration. The chip used for this triaxial compass has improved substantially in performance and lower cost thanks to cellular smartphones and automobile navigation systems that also use the technology. Garmin uses a very sensitive device in its handheld GPSr units. I believe I described the compass in some detail previously on the board. In a nutshell, if you wish to use the digital compass, in ANY handheld device, and you wish for it to function properly, you must calibrate it regularly. Yes, that includes smartphones too. This is especially true in Garmin 62 and 64 series units because of the rechargeable batteries. Each type of battery affects the sensitive digital compass. Software compensates for the various chemistries. That is why it is important to select the correct battery type in the user configuration settings of the GPSr. It's good practice to then calibrate your unit's compass after changing the batteries out. Also, because of geological differences, it's a good practice to recalibrate the compass when you travel to a different location. Sometimes that calibration process can be a little wonky, but if you do it regularly, it becomes second nature, and it only takes a minute.
Muddy Buddies, Stan, by all accounts a very experienced and exceptional geocacher, has told me that he really doesn't care about the compass, at least in the past. And, I agree that, as long as you are moving, and have good satellite lock, you do not need the compass for a reasonably accurate COG and you should probably ignore the compass screen altogether. I counter, that the calibrated compass can be very helpful when you are standing still and you want to know which direction you are facing. The "assist" that a calibrated compass affords the geocacher is considerable in my opinion, so why not use it?
The Bluetooth wireless functionality built into the Garmin 64 family have so much potential in my opinion, for wireless connectivity to smartphones in the field, and connections wirelessly to the PC for logging and file exchange. Thus far, to my knowledge, this hasn't happened. So as far as I am concerned the BT doesn't bring much to the party. However, the 64 family of GPSr units are by far the best of the button type handheld receivers yet produced by Garmin. Why? (1) The GGZ file format replacing the GPX format, which allows efficient storage of unlimited geocaches. (2) GLONASS support. The addition of the GLONASS satellites network of 24 "birds" provide for much faster satellite position upon power on, and substantially better fix in Urban geocaching scenarios because there are more points in the sky at any given location. Two satellites are simply better than just one! This has benefitted many newer smartphones too, by the way. (3) Mature software is the product of all that Garmin has gleaned from the previous GPSr units. The 64 series is now a mature and stable platform which performs really well for the price. The accessories are all backwards compatible with the 62 series too which makes the upgrade easier on the pocket book if you have handlebar mounts and stuff like that.
My recommendation: Get a 64s and use it with your modern smartphone. The Garmin gets great battery life, is rain resistant, tough, and is excellent in most situations. The smartphone allows detailed logging (I prefer dictating my logs), satellite views in real-time when and can be really helpful.
I hope this helps.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year fellow cachers!