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March 2005

Backcountry Technology Review: Electronics and GPS

Your complete guide to the latest in outdoor electronics, including a smart watch, a weatherproof MP3 player, and the best in GPS.

Best Buy

Magellan Meridians

When our map scouts absolutely need to get a satellite lock and keep it, they depend on this series of exceedingly reliable and easy-to-use units. All Meridians come with a PC cable but require an optional SD card (expandable to 128 MB) to download onscreen topos. Magellan’s MapSend Topo US software ($150) is an excellent addition, offering the best national coverage in high-resolution downloads. The Meridian Gold ($250) is the "basic" model, offering true 14-hour battery life on two AAs. The Meridian Platinum ($400) adds a barometer and an excellent three-axis electronic compass, but at a cost to battery life (10 hours in mild temperatures). The Meridian Color ($400) adds a color screen to the Platinum.

All prices for high-tech items are MSRP. Actual retail prices are often much lower, so shop around.

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