Garmin announces the new GPSMAP 276Cx

Discussion in 'Mapping & Navigation' started by mattebox, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. Eltjo

    Eltjo Adventurer

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  2. Eltjo

    Eltjo Adventurer

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    Yes, it supports the Monterra and Montana as well, of course not the theft protection as good as for the 276CX.
  3. Eltjo

    Eltjo Adventurer

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    Lobby likes this.
  4. fraroy

    fraroy Adventurer

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    Compared to the BMW/Garmin Nav6.

    First a little background:

    Like many on this thread, I've been using a 276C for a very long time. October 2016, the 276Cx was announced. When the negative reviews started (mostly posts from JustRok circa January 2017) to come in, I reluctantly shelved my plans to get one. March 2017, gpscity was offering a good discount on Zumo 595, and I ordered one, even if it didn't meet my main requirement, that is "buttons". To my dismay, the screen was so washed out under the sun (even compared with my dying 276C) I quickly returned it. Same timeframe, a new BMW/Garmin unit was announced, the Nav6. As DRTBYK noted, it's very close to the Nav5; main improvements being a better screen (polarizing filter) and improved bluetooth/media player. I didn't care for thebluetooth/phone/media player improvements. Since the screen was reportedly better and to top it off it can be ordered with a 4 buttons cradle, I (most likely) got the first unit in Canada.

    I rode all summer with that unit and enjoyed it; very different from my old 276C, but still many neat features.

    Fall 2017, I was monitoring this thread again; when I read the better reviews from khpossum and also the heads-up by dstepek about a deep discount from radioworld.ca, I ordered one, the automotive bundle with lifetime maps and car mount for $700CAD (the standalone unit was $1050CAD just a year earlier, so a huge drop in price). My intention being, compare the two units and keep the better one. So here it goes; I'll highlight the differences between the two units. They might not be relevant to you.

    Price: The NAV6 is sold only at BMW dealerships. I've been doing business with the local dealership for almost 30 years, so a discount is easily granted, but they only can do so much. In the end, I paid the 276Cx $288CAD less than the Nav6.

    Warranty: The Nav6 comes with 5 years; the 276Cx, only one year.

    Physical; The 276Cx dwarfs the Nav6, even if the four large buttons to the left of the Nav6 cradle are taken into account. The 276Cx has a mini-usb port instead of Nav6's micro-usb. The 276Cx has 8GB of internal memory; 16GB for the Nav6. Both screens are of the same size and resolution. The Nav6 is specified as 65000 colors (16bit) and petrol-resistant. I could not find similar specs for the 276Cx. One German review states 262000 colors (18bit). Both screens are very bright (even under full sunlight). The colors on the Nav6 pops out more than on the 276Cx, but I don't link this to the screen themselves, more with the palettes used. One annoyance of the Nav6, which I think comes from the polarizing filter. I mounted the Nav 6 across the handlebars, set at angle suitable both for riding while seated or standing up. If I'm riding with the sun in my back at an angle such it's reflection can be seen in the screen, it will turn black. I mean totally unreadable. If I had mounted it above the instrument cluster as most do, the screen would be perpendicular to the ground (and the sun never aligned to trigger this).

    Accuracy (receiver): Both units supports GPS and Glonass; however the Nav6 is surprisingly inaccurate, more so than all other units previously owned. Usually it will report 6m (or 5m at best). The 276Cx will lock in quicker and reports 3m, even indoors. A friend's Nav5 (no Glonass) reports 3m. I think I might have a defective unit, but I won't ask for a RMA untill I can compare with another Nav6. The warranty being 5 years I'm in no hurry. Poor accuracy is an issue in dense city areas where the unit can't pinpoint you properly. It's very obvious here in Old Québec City, although I don't need it so close from home.

    Bootup and input speed: The 276Cx is quicker to boot, about 10 sec compared to the Nav6 20 sec. The Nav6 spends more time loading the (same) mapset. Both units take longer when first booting after installing new maps. Input response is better on the 276Cx, pressing a button elicit an immediate response, compared to the Nav6 touch screen, which is not slow at all, but the underlying OS has to interpret your gestures. The 4 buttons on the Nav6 cradle are as quick as those on the 276Cx. You might replace "quickness" by "positive" to better describe the units relative input speed.

    The Nav6 itself has a single button, power on/off, and it's unreacheable when mounted in the cradle. The longer boot-up time would be an issue when getting on the bike after a break, but the Nav6 instead goes into sleep mode (both screen and gps receiver turned off, will last more than a day on it's low capacity battery). It wakes up quickly. You just have to remember to power it off at the end of the day. The 276Cx does not really need a sleep mode. I'll configure it to ignore power coming on or off from the cradle, that is "External Power Off" at "Stays On" and "External Power On" at "Charge Battery". The screen saver will kick in when taking a break, and I'll do a single power on at start of day + single power off at the end.

    Searching (text qualified): On the old 276C, imported waypoints were upper-case translated and truncated to 8 characters. No special characters save for a very minimal set. I like to gas-up at Esso (Speedpass), so while riding I could input a text-qualified search by positionning the cursor on first character, then scroll up and down the alphabet to select (maybe overshoot a few characters, but easy to go reverse) then move cursor to 2nd character and so on. After 2 or 3 characters I'd already get results for the search. Not so on the 276Cx, the augmented character set means that you now have to use an on-screen keyboard to build your query...can't be done while riding. The Nav6 also has an onscreen-keyboard, albeit with touch screen which is friendlier but still unusable while riding. However with the Nav 6 you can save pre-canned searches (called shortcuts).

    Also the NAv6 will literally leaves the 276Cx in the dust while performing the actual search. With the 276Cx some queries are extremely slow, like if it's parsing sequentially all POIs in all loaded maps. With the Nav6, query speed is much more consistent, as if there is a true database in the backend. This is speculation on my part. Conclusion: the Nav6 is way better that the 276Cx for searches.

    Route Calculations: are much faster on the Nav6 than the 276Cx. For a 250km route with five waypoints and using a ferry crossing, the Nav6 will plot in a couple of seconds. The 276Cx will take between 7 and 10 seconds. Longer but not really an issue. I have very little actual experience with the 276Cx; it's winter here so no bike. I took the 276Cx on a few bus rides and intentionally programmed impossible routes (shortest distance). Many streets here are too narrow for a bus. The unit was constantly recalculating and doing it fast enough so not to miss the next turn.

    ANT: Both units have ANT capabilities; however the Nav6 supports only one class of devices, Virb action cameras (and I don't own any). The 276Cx supports more devices; the one I'm really happy with is the Tempe sensor. At last, I'll have an accurate thermometer. The one built-in my '08 1200GS is a joke. And the temperatures reported by the weather functions of the gps units are even worse (coming from the nearest airport...).

    Tracking: The Nav6 can record tracks, but without any customization (it's either on or off). It comes with a track app if you you want to navigate recorded tracks, which I've never used yet. The 276Cx offers a lot more customization. Most important, like all other gpsmap devices, you can turn off "lock on road". You can see the type of error caused by "lock on road" here:

    [​IMG]

    To top it off, if the 276Cx is hooked to a Tempe sensor, every point of the track will be recorded with a temperature reading. You can't see those in track details with Mapsource, but they are in Basecamp. Tracking seems to be an afterthought on the Nav6.

    Bluetooth: Both units support Bluetooth integration with your phone and headset. You will need to install the Garmin Smartphone link app on your phone for the Nav6, and the Garmin Connect app for the 276Cx. Smartphone app is intended for on-road navigation, while Connect is targeted for sport/fitness activities. Both will transmit weather data to their respective units. Traffic warnings with the Nav6/Smartphone app are very usefull. I'm surprised they work here in Canada.

    The Nav6 has a media player app to access/control playback of music stored on your phone. I do not use this.

    Of course both units can send navigation instructions to your Bluetooth headset. I've never heard the "voice" of my old 276C which requires a wired speaker. I tried it with the Nav6, but quickly shut it off (extremely annoying since I often wander off course).

    Integration with the phone is better with the Nav6 as you can make calls or take (or reject) them:

    [​IMG]

    The 276Cx will simply warn you about incoming/missed calls. However it fares better with text messages. These never show on the Nav6:

    [​IMG]

    Management of waypoints, routes and tracks: On the 276Cx, when you copy a .gpx files to the sd card or main memory, the included data (waypoints and/or routes and/or tracks) becomes readily available. If you delete that file later, then corresponding data is gone from the unit. When you create data from the unit's menus (for example a waypoint), it's stored in a different file so no mixup there. On the Nav6, you need to import the data from the file. I guess it goes to an internal database since if the file is later deleted, the imported data remains. I much prefer the simpler approach of the 276Cx.

    As a sidenote, the waypoints icons of the 276Cx are a close match to the Mapsource/Basecamp icons. You can also customize how they'll show (size and label) on the map. When you create a waypoint from the unit's menus, these icons can be selected. On the old 276C, only the coloured markers were available. The waypoints (called favorites) on the Nav6 are big ugly monochromatic things.

    You can send data (such as waypoints or routes) wirelessly between units of same family. It does work between Nav6 and Nav5. The Nav6 will pair with the 276CX, but transfer of data between unit will fail with "incompatible devices" message.

    Screen details: Below are seven screenshots, to show how the devices will display the same map. I used OSM (generic flavor) since it includes a lot more details than Garmin's CN. The generic OSM has no .typ file, which I added with typwiz to customize a single property, the color of Powerlines. They defaulted to white on a light beige backgound (unreadable) on the 276Cx. The 276CX features a 5 levels detail setting while the Nav6 has only 3 levels. Both units were set to their highest level. The scale reference on the 276x is 50 pixels long; it's 85 pixels on the Nav6. This means the 276Cx shows almost triple (2.89X) the area of the Nav6 for same scale setting. For example at 8km scale, the 276Cx covers 9830 km², while the Nav6 will show 3840 km². The top bar will always show on the Nav6; it can be disabled altogether or shown only while navigating with the 276Cx. Screenshots on the 276Cx do not capture the overlays, so bear in mind that four data fields appear in the corners.

    [​IMG]

    At 8 km scale, the 276Cx shows many more roads than the Nav6. If you compare with the 5 km scale, you can see Lac... (lakes) POI. These were cluttering the display and I changed a "Map Setup" option so they'd show up until 6km scale and they're gone from the 8km screenshot. Strangely, the Nav6 does not show Montmagny's POI, which is much larger than either Saint-Michel or Cap-Saint-Ignace.

    [​IMG]

    At 5km scale the waypoint "Rocher Noir" is shown by both units. I selected a small dot and on the 276Cx it's hidden by the pointer. The 276Cx's choice of pattern to display wooded areas (could be changed with typwiz) makes it difficult to see smaller roads; same roads details are shown as the 8km scale.

    [​IMG]

    At 3km scale, minor roads (grey) and Powerlines appear on the 276Cx, nothing on the Nav6. Also waterways details are much more extensive on the 276Cx. Finally unpaved roads (dotted gray/white lines) are shown, but hard to see through the wooded background. I'll definitely look into this with typwiz.

    [​IMG]

    At 2km scale, it's Nav6's turn to show the Powerlines and waterways details. Still no minor roads, nor unpaved.

    [​IMG]

    At 1.2 km, nothing much different.

    [​IMG]

    At 800m, the 276Cx will show at least three more POI categories, Towers, Cemeteries and public toilets (!). It also shows trails, dotted red/white. It can't be seen on this screenshot, but the Nav6 will just now start to show minor (black) and unpaved (narrow grey) roads.

    [​IMG]

    At 500m, the Nav6 will show trails (dotted white), far right of screenshot. Paler green barely seen through the wooded backgound of the 276Cx (upper right area) is an actual golf course. Can't be seen on the Nav6 at any scale setting.

    Final thoughts and conclusion:

    Both units are from Garmin and have same screen size/resolution. Thats about the only characteristics they share. They are soo different.

    The Nav6 has Nuvi/Zumo genes and is much more refined as a road navigation unit. It showcases all features of Garmin's CN maps, like lane assistance with photorealistic junction views, 3D rendering of major POIs, speed data field showing both actual and speed limit, TTS navigation announcements with natural guidance... I used it's "curvy road" option only twice over the summer and had a fantastic experience the second time around. Real-time traffic really is a life-saver.

    The 276Cx is a "Jack of all trades" type of device, with on-road navigation being only one of it's many features. Half of the fixes/enhancements of the release notes are about Marine use. From the extensive choice of data fields, you can choose "Glide ratio", "Glide ratio to Dest", "Vertical Speed" and so on. I have absolutely no aviation training, but these seem to target paraglider or ultralight flight audiences. From the 276CX, I want to retain the better screen, the fabulously detailed map rendering with wide coverage, the highly customizable Map setup and the tracking accuracy.

    You probably have guessed by now, but I'll keep both (at least for one season). There's enough real estate on the bike. I'll move the Nav6 above the instruments cluster and mount the 276Cx on the handlebars. I'll use the Nav6 as the main navigation unit. It showing less details is a bonus in that use case, the extreme example of this being the Trippy II mentionned here a few posts ago. When coming to a stop, I'll look at the 276Cx (loaded with OSM), and if I fancy a detail, just point and shoot....

    Happy trails !
    jonz, thumpididump, CLANTECH and 15 others like this.
  5. DonM

    DonM Do-dah Do-dah

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    Great write up!
  6. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    I keep both on my bike for similar reasons.

    Sorry for the "dark" photo but it's winter here and the bike is hibernating.
  7. SpeedyR

    SpeedyR SE in the SE

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    @DRTBYK I have to ask- as a past 276c user, I"m headed west in a few months for a trip with friends, mostly standard ADV routes around CO. I had been looking at the 276CX, but leaning more towards the Montana for my go to GPS. Most of the guys I"m going with have Montana units, (mostly 650/690 size bikes, I'll be on a 950 SE), so I'm leaning in that direction because of the lackluster performance of the 276CX.

    I"ll see the Garmin folks at an industry trade show next week, will ask obviously if they have anything new coming out, or plans to update the 276CX, but thought I'd ask since you have had some time with both units now..
  8. DRTBYK

    DRTBYK All Things GPS

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    If you don't need the Handheld advantage of the Montana, I'd go with the 276Cx for one reason - the display: size and brightness. It preforms a little slow in some cases but overall it is a much easier device to use as a casual user over the Montana - assuming you have learned the basics of both devices.

    I'd be surprised if the Garmin Reps can tell you anything that isn't already announced. Have a great ride in CO whatever your choice in GPS's.
    SpeedyR likes this.
  9. SteveAZ

    SteveAZ Long timer

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    I run two units for a couple of reasons... primarily I run all numeric on the smaller and on the larger mostly run the moving map - essentially dedicate one to numbers and the other to nav... and then I have redundancy...





    And before some moron comes on and tries to tell us all that all we need is a smart phone instead of two GPS's.... I say you are clearly in the wrong thread....
  10. SpeedyR

    SpeedyR SE in the SE

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    yeah typically I just get the party line about the products. No new info and here's what we offer. decisions decisions...