Originally Posted by B1
there are two kinds of maps, vector based and bitmap based and gps units are only designed to accept one type (far as i know). all garmin maps and shonky maps are vector, where the images are made up of lines and various shapes. most other gps units use bitmap images, meaning every map is actually like a photo, e.g. made up of pixels so you need to access different images when you zoom in and out.
i think garmin gets away with charging a lot because the good offroad maps are almost all vector based. the exception i know of is oziexplorer maps but they cost a fair bit and there's a bit of a learning curve with their software. a quick google shows you can load oziexplorer on to the peaklife.
i'm a budget too, i got a garmin 1450t from dick smiths for $150 and a ram mount from ebay for $50. five inch screen, you can load up shonky maps for free and get the free garmin mapsource software for your pc then plan and upload custom routes to your gps. only drawback is its not waterproof so carry a clear plastic bag and a twist tie around.
their cheapest waterproof gps is the garmin nuvi 550 for $300. i think they are discontinued now but you can still get new ones on ebay.
All gps units are just mini computers. The software dictates whether they run vector or raster(bitmap) based maps. Garmin, Igo, TomTom are vector whilst Oziexplorer is raster. If you know what your'e doing and are prepared to muck around out of curiosity you can get all these programs to run on these units. Best to stick with units that have ce5 and not ce6 as it will be easier. Bluetooth problems arise when the unit is programmed to a particular passcode which a corresponding headset also has. The old Aldi m/c units are great to play with and are waterproof. Same physical case as the tomtom rider and strike gps. The earlier units had ce5 but not bluetooth, while the 2nd gen had ce6 and bluetooth, but tied to the headset.