Garmin Geko 201

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The Geko 201 is a midget 12 channel GPS system from Garmin?. It is handy to take almost anywhere. It offers slightly improved memory compared to the entry level Garmin Etrex and has WAAS error correction for better accuracy in areas which support this system.

There are two problems everyone talks about with the Gekos. The on-off button and battery life.

The on-off button used to have a habit of operating while the unit was in the ruck-sack or pocket meaning you either didn't record your track or you ran your batteries down. The newer models (including the one I bought in July 2005 from Amazon) do not suffer from this problem because the new case design has a raised ring to protect it from being pressed accidentally.

Battery life is a problem with all GPS. With tiny AAA batteries you would imagine that the Geko would be awful. Garmin claim 12 hours average run time, but this is with Duracell type batteries. With a pair of 800mha NiMH recharables you can get between 6 to 8 hours continuous use in power save mode. Get a pack of 4 and a fast charger and all is well. From experience battery life really suffers in the cold - for example skiing and there is a tradeoff between keeping the GPS in a place where you get a good signal and keeping it warm.

If you want to use it on your bike (instead of a trip computer maybe?) there is a handlebar mount. This works well, even mountain biking but you have to unscrew the mount to get at the batteries which is a pain, especially as you will be changing them reguarly.

Reception is okay, except under dense trees when it gets a bit confused.

I would not consider the Geko 101 - no computer interface. The Geko 201 has pretty much everything you need in a basic GPS and can work with computer mapping software. The improve memory makes it a win over the similar Garmin Etrex, the only thing the Etrex brings is the possibility to use high capacity 2600mHa AA cells.

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