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Reviews > Navigation and Map Gear > GPS > Bushnell ONIX 200 CR GPS > Test Report by Will Rietveld

Bushnell ONIX 200CR GPS

Test Series by BackpackGearTest.org

Initial Report (May 26, 2007

Field Report (May 26, 2007

Long-Term Report (October 8, 2007)

Tester Information
Name: Will Rietveld
Age: 64
Gender: Male
Height: 6 ft (183 cm)
Weight: 170 lb (77 kg)
Email: (willi_wabbit at bresnan dot net)
City & State: Durango, CO 81301
Location for Testing: Southwestern US (Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico).

Backpacking ExperienceI have been an avid backpacker for 49 years. Backpacking is my passion. In the fall, winter, and spring I backpack in UT, AZ, and NM. In the summer I backpack in several wilderness areas in the southern Colorado Mountains.

Backpacking Style—I have been a lightweight backpacker for many years and an ultralight backpacker for 8 years. My wife and I give presentations on ultralight backpacking in the local area, and have developed a website called Southwest Ultralight Backpacking (http://home.bresnan.net/~swultralight/) to share information.

Initial Report (May 26, 2007)

Product Information
Manufacturer: Bushnell Outdoor Products
Manufacturer Website: http://www.bushnell.com/
Product Tested: ONIX 200CR GPS
Year of Manufacture: 2007
Included: GPS, USB interface cable, CD with communications software and demo.
Attachment Pack:
Neck Lanyard 0.2 oz (5.7 g) and Belt Clip 0.4 oz (11.3 g), provided by Bushnell for the test but not included with the GPS.
Weight: Measured weight of GPS only is 5.6 oz (159 g); weight with two lithium AA batteries is 6.7 oz (190 g); manufacturer weight not listed.
Dimensions: Measured dimensions 4.9 in high x 2.4 in wide x 1.3 in thick (12.5 cm  x 6.1 cm x 3.3 cm); manufacturer’s dimensions 4.3 in x 1.7 in x 0.7 in (10. 8 cm  x  4.4 cm  x 1. 8 cm).
MSRP: Not available.

Product Description
From the Bushnell website: “Downloads, displays and georeferences satellite and aerial photography, and topographical maps for navigation. View your hunting ground and mark waypoints at home from our Web site. Transfer the image to your ONIX and its instantly calibrated (georeferenced) to the satellites for navigation. The only GPS with screen-layering capability. The ONIX layers a satellite image, aerial photo or topographic map, plus all navigational aids in perfect harmony on a single screen.”

Bushnell ONIX 200CR GPS.

Bushnell ONIX 200CR GPS.

Features (from the Bushnell website)

  • 320 x 240 pixel full-color LCD screen32MB of memory

  • 128MB of SDRAM

  • Downloads, displays and georeferences satellite photography

  • Screen layering

  • SafeTrack™ battery-conservation mode

  • Night Mode

  • HOT button operation

  • Basemap of the United States and Canada

  • 20 channel SiRF GPS receiver

  • WAAS enabled

  • Stores up to 500 Waypoints, 20 Trails and 20 Routes

  • Audible alarms

  • Waterproof (IPX7 rated) and rugged construction

  • Customizable user profiles

  • Runs on two AA batteries (not included)

  • USB port (cable included)

Initial Impressions

Included in the package are the GPS unit, USB interface cable, instruction booklet, and CD with communication software and a demo. The coiled interface cable is about 2 ft (61 cm) long relaxed and 4 ft (122 cm) long stretched. I found it to be far too short to extend from the back of my computer to the top of my computer desk; a 6 ft (183 cm) long uncoiled cable would be better.

The Attachment Pack supplied by Bushnell for this test (but not included with the GPS) contains a neck lanyard and a belt clip. The neck lanyard will be handy to free my hands while carrying the GPS. The belt clip is missing a threaded attachment screw, so I will not be able to use it.

Since I am already familiar with GPS operation, I found the ONIX very intuitive to set up and use. I mainly needed to determine what each button does, then I was off and running for basic operation. It will take a little longer to learn its special features..

The Bushnell ONIX 200CR GPS comes in packaging  that clearly shows and describes the unit.
The Bushnell ONIX 200CR GPS comes in packaging  that clearly shows and describes the unit.

The Bushnell ONIX GPS uses only satellite images, aerial photos, and topographic maps downloaded to the GPS from the Bushnell website. The ONIX does not download maps from mapping software such as National Geographic Topo or DeLorme Topo USA. 

Downloaded images and maps cost $1 each, and four free downloads are provided when you register the unit. According to Bushnell, it takes 24 to 48 business hours for the system to process my registration and make my free map credits (downloads) available. After 7 days the credits were not yet available, so I was not able to use the ONIX with a downloaded map or image at the time of this Initial Report.. 

The ONIX has built-in base maps of the US and Canada, but they are very general, showing only major features like interstate highways, rivers, and lakes. I don't see how these maps would be very useful for navigating on a car trip because they lack a lot of needed detail, like state highways and towns.

One glitch I discovered on the initial startup is the elevation (ELEV) on the SAT page is displayed in yards rather than feet. When I reported it to Bushnell I was told that they are already aware of the problem and a software update will be available for downloading in a few days.

Operation and Features

The ONIX 200CR has a color display, while the ONIX 200 (right) has a grayscale display. There are  five buttons:

  1. Power – turns it on and off.
  2. Page View – flips through the four basic screens (explained below).
  3. Hot Button – controls several actions from a single button.
  4. 5-Way Button – used for navigation on screen, selecting from menus, and creating waypoints.

 

Button functions on the Bushnell ONIX GPS (photo from Bushnell tutorial)

Button functions on the Bushnell ONIX GPS (photo from Bushnell tutorial).

There are four main pages accessible from the Page button:

  1. SAT Page – shows the number, identity, and strength of satellite signals received by the GPS. It also displays the current position, elevation, and accuracy (based on the number of satellite signals available).
  2. MAP Page – shows your current position in relation to nearby features. The ONIX allows you to overlay a compass, a satellite photo, and topographic map (any or all) on top of a base map of your trail or route. The MAP page is the primary page used for navigation with the GPS.
  3. NAV Page – provides a standard compass display and shows your direction in relation to the compass
  4. SET Page – used to personalize how the ONIX displays information to suit your needs and preferences

Beyond a normal GPS, the features of the ONIX 200CR that stand out are:

  1. Large color display with good resolution.
  2. Displays satellite images and automatically georeferences them.
  3. Screen-layering – overlays a satellite image, topographic map, or compass (any or all) over your route or trail.
  4. SafeTrack Battery Conservation Mode – the display is turned off to save energy, but the GPS continues to track your location.
  5. Night Mode – reverses the image for easier night viewing
  6. Hot Button – provides quick access to the most needed features and controls

I will evaluate all of the ONIX’s modes and features during the four-month test.

Test Plan
Test Period—
May to August 2007.

Test Locations—Southwestern US (CO, AZ, UT, NM).

Testing Conditions—The testing environments and conditions will consist of: high elevation alpine country, desert, canyon country, and forests. Expected extreme conditions include: rain, strong winds, snow storms, low temperatures, and high elevations. Elevations will range from 5,000 to 14,000 ft (1524 to 4267 m) and temperatures will range from subfreezing to 90 F (-7 to 32 C).

Activities—The Bushnell ONIX 200CR GPS will be tested doing the following activities: 1) backpacking, 2) day hiking, 3) road travel, and 4) “hunting”. Regarding the latter, the test period will be over before elk hunting season, but I will use the ONIX in my favorite elk hunting area to map favorite hunting routes and key landmarks, and thereby evaluate how well the ONIX will work as a hunting aide (which Bushnell emphasizes in their advertising).

Measurements and Data— Backpacking and day hiking use will be both on-trail and off-trail. I will be planning several backpacking trips in two very large roadless forested areas that are very difficult to navigate because of their complex of drainages and ridges. For each trip I will design a route, select waypoints on the map, download them to the GPS, then use the GPS for navigation. I will also do the reverse – use the GPS to track unplanned routes I take, including waypoints I save along the way, then upload the routes to my computer to edit and file. During all of my testing I will keep a log on my use of the ONIX so I have accurate notes to use for my Field Report and Long-Term Report.

Factors Evaluated
Following are the specific factors on which I will be evaluating the Bushnell ONIX 200CR GPS. In this Initial Report, I have supplied some information based on my initial use of the GPS. In my appended Field Report and Long Term Report I will provide answers to the remaining questions.

Installation and Setup—The GPS required a little extra time to initialize itself on the first startup. I did not have to enter any information to “tell it where it is”; it did all of that automatically. On the SET page, I configured the GPS to display information in the units and formats that I prefer, such as elevation in feet, location in UTM, and speed in “statute”. The latter is “miles”; for clarity I would prefer that it simply said “miles” rather than “statute”.

Installing the support software on my computer was a very simple automated process. The software consists of 1) a communication module to facilitate downloading to the GPS, uploading to the computer, and editing/filing routes; and 2) a tutorial. I have not used the communications software yet, so I can’t comment on its capability and ease of use. The tutorial is very basic and provides clear instructions on all of the unit’s features, and is especially useful for a beginner.

User Interface—As an experienced GPS user, I found the ONIX’s buttons and menus very intuitive and easy to learn. The user interface is friendly in terms of logical layout, prompting on screens regarding the next options, and accessibility of features. Frequently used features are easy to access through the Hot Button. However, like a digital camera, there are a lot of features and options embedded in the menus that will take some time to learn.

Usable Features—Does the ONIX have all the features I would want in a navigational tool? Is it capable of doing everything I want it to do?

Tracking—How fast does the ONIX acquire satellite signals and initiate itself so it is ready to use? Does it track well under a forest cover and in canyons? Is its WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) capability useful to improve position accuracy?

Communications—How easy is it to download satellite images and aerial photos from Bushnell’s website? How user-friendly and useful is the included software for pre-selecting waypoints and downloading maps the ONIX, and then uploading them to my computer and editing them (for example, adding notes and symbols)?

The Bushnell website is apparently the only source of images and maps for the ONIX, at a cost of $1 an image/photo/map. Will this one source meet all of my needs, and are the images high quality. Is it a good value, or will it add up to a big investment in maps and images?

Navigation—What is the quality of Bushnell’s map and photo images? How easy is it to navigate with the use of satellite images on a color LCD screen? How useful is the layering feature (overlaying images and maps) for navigating my route, and understanding the terrain? How reliable is the geo-referencing feature? It implies that the instrument automatically orients downloaded images and overlaid maps with the appropriate cardinal directions and GPS location, which would be really slick if it works seamlessly.

Power Consumption—My present (older) GPS is a battery hog, so I  use it very conservatively. The ONIX uses only two AA batteries and claims as much as 30 hours of continuous use from one set of batteries. I will determine if the battery life is as good as claimed, and also determine how much the SafeTrack mode saves energy. 

Accuracy—I will compare my GPS location with my topo map location to see how well they agree in terms of location and elevation.

Durability—Is the ONIX sturdily built, waterproof as claimed, and reasonably durable? How durable is the color LCD screen?

Utility—What are the most appropriate applications of the ONIX? Bushnell emphasizes hunting, but is it just as useful for off-trail backpacking and road travel?

Field Report (August 22, 2007)

My Initial Report was positive in regard to the ease of installation of the computer software to support the ONIX, and the ONIX’s  user interface. Unfortunately, my subsequent experiences during the past two months have not been nearly as good. I have had numerous problems with the entire system: downloading images and maps from the Bushnell website, using the PC Companion software, the GPS unit itself, and working with Bushnell technical support to resolve my problems.

Home and Field Use of the ONIX: During my first two months of testing, my experiences with the ONIX consisted of the following:

  1. Six home sessions at my computer learning how to use the Bushnell download website, PC Companion software, and attempting to download images and maps to the software and GPS.

  2. Four attempts to contact Bushnell Customer Service to try to resolve the problems I was having.

  3. Four day hikes, where I loaded maps and images into the ONIX (or attempted to) and used the GPS in the field.

The sections below detail my experiences with the ONIX.

Using the Bushnell Download Page – Aerial photos (images) and topographic maps for use with the ONIX 200CR GPS are ONLY available by downloading them from the Bushnell website, at a cost $1 each. When I registered the GPS, the Bushnell website promised four free downloads within two to three business days. It took nearly a month. Bushnell was to provide 25 free downloads to use while testing the ONIX 200CR; that took even longer to receive, after some coaxing. I purchased several download credits while I was waiting so I could test the ONIX.

Overall, I found the Bushnell download page very user-unfriendly. I found that it does not work with Mozilla Firefox as my browser (I got error messages), so I had to use MicroSoft Internet Explorer. The website has some short, cryptic instructions in a bar on the left side of the screen that are very difficult to understand and follow, along with some icons that have no explanation of what they are or how to use them. I eventually learned how to choose a map or image to download and how to download it, but it was a time-consuming trial and error process.

The images and maps are wallpapered with the words “DigitalGlobe”, which is very distracting. When I clicked on my location (southwest Colorado) on the US map displayed, the map or photo that came up was for northeast New Mexico, two hundred miles (322 km) away. From there, I found it very slow and tedious to move to my desired location on the map or photo because there was no identifying text (features on the maps, names of drainages, etc.) on the maps at a smaller scale. I had to use a larger scale in order to read any text, so traveling on the map was slow. Even when I eventually got to my desired area, which was familiar territory, it was hard to figure out my exact location. I found the fastest way to get to my desired location was to use a “placename” search (enter the name of a nearby city), then navigate from there. Overall, the process is very tedious and time-consuming.

Using the PC Companion Software – The computer software that Bushnell provides to interface with the download website and the GPS is also very cryptic and user-unfriendly. Like their download website, has a set of icons that have no explanation of what they are or how to use them. Again, it was a time-consuming trial and error process to figure out how to use it.

According to the ONIX user manual, I can download images or maps to the PC Companion on my computer, add routes, symbols, waypoints and other notations, then download them to the GPS. I tried several times to download images and topo maps to the PC Companion, but it simply wouldn’t work; nothing there. It displayed a download icon but the files were not on my computer. When the software auto-installed on my computer, apparently there are supposed to be several sub-folders for “aerials, waypoints, topos, routes, and trails”, but they were not created. I created them manually, but it did not help. I un-installed and re-installed the software several times, but still could not get it to work properly. So, I was unable to download images or maps from the Bushnell website to the PC Companion software, add waypoints, routes, or any notations to photos or maps and then download them to the GPS. Rather, I was only able to download photos and maps from the download site directly to the GPS. No problems there.

Using the ONIX 200CR GPS Unit – In my Initial Report, I wrote “I found the ONIX’s buttons and menus very intuitive and easy to learn. The user interface is friendly in terms of logical layout and accessibility of features. Frequently used features are easy to access through the Hot Button.” That was my initial impression, but after two months of (trying) to use the ONIX, I would qualify that somewhat. I am still unclear on how to start and end a “trail” or “route”, and what the difference is. Also, I found it easy to enter the “SafeTrack” mode, but cumbersome to get out of it. I finally found a “Stop SafeTrack” screen buried in the menus that allowed me to return to normal mode.

My biggest issue with the GPS is that it does not display topo maps. On several occasions I downloaded both an aerial photo and a topo map of the same area from the download site directly to the GPS. Both were listed on the respective menus. The GPS would display an aerial photo ok, but would not display the topo map. When I tried to switch from the aerial photo to the topo map (the device will display one or the other, not both at the same time), the aerial photo remained on the display. 

The first time I used the GPS in the field, the GPS would not display the aerial photos or topo maps of the area that I had downloaded to it. I saved several waypoints within the area. The GPS eventually stopped working after about 13 hours. When I got home I discovered that one of the batteries was low and the other still had a good charge. I changed one battery and the GPS powered up again. I tried to upload the aerial photo and map from the GPS to the PC Companion. The waypoints uploaded, along with a dotted line showing the route I traveled, but the photo or map didn’t upload. I later found out that I need to search the “base map” in the GPS to find the photo or map I downloaded. I expected the photo or map to be displayed on the screen when I selected it, which is what I thought the “georeferencing” feature is, but it doesn’t work that way. The process of finding the photo or map on the GPS’s base map is another tedious and time-consuming process.

After my first aborted trip with the GPS in the field, I contacted Bushnell Technical Support (more on that below), and they e-mailed a MicroSoft Word file with detailed instructions on how to download files from the Bushnell Website and use the PC Companion). That document finally provided some clear instructions that the download site and PC Companion were lacking.

After advancing somewhat on the ONIX’s very steep learning curve, I tried the entire process again to plan another hike and use the GPS in a different area. Following the instructions in the MS Word document carefully, I tried to download an aerial photo and topo map of the area to the PC Companion so I could add a route and waypoints. Still no luck, the files were not there. So I downloaded directly to the ONIX. This time I searched for and found the aerial photo on the GPS’s base map. The GPS showed both the aerial photo and the topo map under its lists of photos and maps, but would not display the topo map when I selected it. It displayed the photo ok.

The area I hiked in was forested, with deep valleys and high ridges, and relief of about 1500 ft (457 m). I also carried a topo map of the area, printed from National Geographic Topo software, which had my planned route marked on it. The ONIX tracked my location on the aerial photo accurately, and worked well in SafeTrack mode to conserve battery power. I saved several waypoints. When I got home, I attempted to upload the photo from the GPS to the PC Companion. The software displayed an upload icon for a few seconds, then shut down, so no luck.

In a forested landscape, I found the aerial photos were not very useful. Everything looked the same (forested), and it was hard to distinguish a valley from a ridgeline. It was basically flat and amorphous. Perhaps an aerial photo would be more useful in a really diverse landscape, but big game hunters usually hunt in a forested landscape, and the aerial photo on a small LCD is simply not very useful for understanding the surrounding topography. My personal preference is a topo map with contour lines to indicate the topography, which is very important to me for navigation. Ideally, it would be nice to switch back and forth between a topo map and aerial photo, which the ONIX is designed to do, but the ONIX I am testing will not display topo maps.

I tried to use the ONIX for one more hike, but when I tried to power it up it flashed the opening screen for a second then went dark. I checked the batteries and again one of the batteries was low and the other was ok. When I replaced one of the batteries, the unit would power up and attempt to track satellites, then it shut down.

My Experience With Bushnell Technical Assistance – Apparently Bushnell’s technical assistance staff is stretched very thin. Their FAQs section on their website is very short and of limited use. I called their toll free number and hung up after a long wait. So I sent them a series of e-mail questions, and received a response (after several days) to my first questions about using the download site and PC Companion software. The MS Word document they sent was very useful, as mentioned, to learn how to use the download website and PC Companion.

However, they did not answer my subsequent questions regarding the problems I was having with the PC Companion and GPS not working correctly. I sent one last message prior to writing this Field Report, in which I further described my problems with the GPS and PC Companion software. I stated that the ONIX I am testing is apparently defective, and received a response asking me what type of batteries I am using and what error messages I am getting with the PC Companion software. I answered their questions and have not received a reply in three days.

Present Status – The GPS unit will not work and is apparently defective, but Bushnell technical support is slow to answer my e-mails and has not offered to replace the unit.

Summary to Date
The GPS unit I am testing is apparently defective, and I am having a difficult time getting Bushnell to replace it. Although the concept behind the Bushnell ONIX 200CR GPS is good, the implementation is poor. The process of selecting photos/maps, downloading them to the software, adding routes and waypoints, using them in the field, then uploading back to the software or website is simply too complex and frustrating. In particular, the Bushnell download website and PC Companion software are not easy to use. Tracking directly on a map or photo contained within the GPS certainly sounds ideal, but at this point I am not willing to endure the complexity and frustration associated with the Bushnell system. Perhaps these issues will be cleared up by the time I write my Long Term Report in two months.

Long-Term Report (October 8, 2007)

Since the original ONIX I tested was apparently defective, Bushnell sent a replacement unit on September 7, which I used for the last month of the test. The replacement unit was identical to the first, except the accompanying PC Companion software is version 1.4 instead of 1.3. I could not detect any differences in the new version of the software, and Bushnell has not posted any list of upgrades.

Testing Locations and Conditions
I used (or attempted to use) the ONIX on four day hikes and one backpacking trip during the last month of testing. My hikes were in dry, warm weather with highs in the 70s F (20s C) and elevations ranging from 6,000 to 13,000 ft (1829 to 3962 m). In addition to field testing, I spent numerous hours in front of my computer (with a lot of help from my wife) overcoming barriers in operating the ONIX GPS and its accompanying PC Companion Software.

Additional Progress
After many, many hours spent overcoming obstacles and barriers, I finally managed to download a map or photo file to the PC Companion software, add waypoints, and then download the image to the ONIX. I also successfully opened an image (aerial or topo map) on the ONIX and attempted to use it for navigation in the field. I say “attempted” because I have yet to complete a trip in which the ONIX performed flawlessly. On my last trip, for example, I prepared for the trip by downloading a topo map to the ONIX that had pre-selected waypoints along my intended route. When I got to the starting point, I opened the map in the ONIX, but then I found that the hot button did not work when I had the aerial image or topo map open, so I was not able to get into the map menus which included going to a waypoint. When I pressed the PAGE button, the menu came up, but the unit has exited my map. When I tried again and again to open the map, the unit shut down spontaneously by itself. So I had to abandon using the ONIX on my trip. When I got home, the GPS turned on and stayed on just fine, but the Hot Button still did not work when a map was open. I checked the batteries (which I had changed the day before) and they tested at the high end of “good”. This illustrates my experience with the ONIX. Overall, this test has been a continuum of problems, obstacles, and barriers and I have little on the positive side to show for my many hours of working with the ONIX.

It gives me some degree of satisfaction that I was able to master the process for using the ONIX, although it took me four months to do it. My main issue is that the ONIX and the process for using it are very complex, cumbersome, confusing, buggy, and frustrating. As for my electronics/computer skills, I would assess myself as above average (I have a Ph.D., 25 years of computer experience, and 10 years of GPS experience), so I should be able to figure something out if it’s reasonably user friendly. On the other hand, I have not had any experience at all with using a cell phone, Blackberry, or other compact communication device other than a GPS. Also, my wife assisted me a lot, and her computer skills are better than mine.

Summary of My Experience with the Bushnell ONIX
This section repeats some of the information in my Field Report, but I want to concisely summarize my assessment of the ONIX system in one place for the reader’s benefit.

Bushnell Download Website – I don’t like it at all. It is painfully slow to navigate to a desired location (even using high speed internet), the maps are very difficult to read and determine where you are, the map selection process is confusing (with no useful instructions provided), and the maps are expensive when you take into account the number of maps (or photos) needed for a single trip. I would much prefer to download maps from a PC-based mapping software such as National Geographic Topo or DeLorme Topo USA. These programs are far superior in terms of the clarity of the maps, navigation, adding waypoints, and adding notes after a trip. However, they do not have aerial photos available.

PC Companion Software – Again, I don’t like it at all. No instructions are provided with the software on how to use it, so it’s up to the user to figure it out. Actually, it’s unlikely that I would have figured it out on my own, but my contacts with Bushnell Technical Assistance resulted in their e-mailing me a MS Word document with detailed instructions, which helped immensely. Interestingly, the default setting is to NOT show maps or aerial photos. It took me awhile to get past that obstacle.

Interactive User Manual – The tutorial supplied on a CD with the ONIX is quite good, but it covers the use of the GPS itself, not the download website and the PC Companion software. It’s very confusing on how to start the tutorial from the opening page, and even more confusing on how to exit it. There’s nothing to click on to get out of the tutorial, and many users would have to resort to re-starting their computer. I found that Alt-F4 works to exit the tutorial, but many people would not know that.

Aerial Photos – The ability to download and use aerial photos in the GPS is one advantage that the Bushnell ONIX has over other GPS receivers. However, in my opinion, the feature has limited usefulness. First, it is very difficult to navigate the Bushnell download website in photo mode. The images are wallpapered with “DigitalGlobe” which is very distracting, and it is extremely difficult to navigate to a desired location, even in familiar territory, because it is hard to tell where you are. Once downloaded to the GPS, their usefulness varies. When there are lots of distinct features (houses, meadows, streams, etc) it is possible to relate the photo to the ground, but in homogeneous surroundings (forest, desert, etc), everything looks the same. Everything also looks flat and it is very difficult to distinguish hills from valleys. My preference is to use a topo map instead of a photo.

Downloading – The USB interface cable supplied is way too short, so I have to connect the ONIX on the floor rather than on my desk top (my CPU is under my desk). Also, there are no instructions telling me which end is connected to the computer and the GPS, or which side of the GPS connector is up or down. The plug-in on the GPS is designed so the flat connector on the cable will plug in either way, but only one way. In the wrong direction, the plug doesn’t go in completely, but that wasn’t readily noticeable working in the dark area on the floor where I had to plug it in. Beyond that, I had no problems at all downloading to the GPS directly from the Bushnell website or from the PC Companion software.

Using the GPS – In my Initial Report I said that the user interface is intuitive and easy to use. I want to take that back. The waterproof buttons are hard to press (using a fingernail works best). Entering a map or photo is an unusually complicated sequence of steps, and if you do it wrong the waypoints are displayed but not the map or photo. It’s easy to enter the SafeTrack mode, but very confusing to get out of it. Another annoyance is the GPS wants to save a waypoint whenever I accidentally hit the center button while scrolling. And, as I mentioned at the beginning of this report, the ONIX I am presently testing has a quirk that the Hot Button does not work when a map or image is displayed, and spontaneously turns itself off. Finally, the GPS has a funny quirk of adding a number of extraneous “bread crumb” dotted lines to each map or image I use. Normally these lines trace where I have traveled, but I have not walked any of it. When I delete all “trails” and “routes” in the GPS, these lines do not disappear.

Bushnell Technical Support – It seems to consist of one person, so the response time is fairly long. However, in all fairness, she was always patient and courteous and tried to be helpful. The MS Word document she sent on downloading to the ONIX was very helpful, and filled a huge void in the user manual (the user manual contains nothing on the process of downloading maps and photos).

Overall Assessment
On their website, Bushnell seems to market the ONIX to hunters. However, unless a hunter is also a computer geek, I don’t think he/she will be very happy with the ONIX. I found the process – from the download website, to the PC Companion software, to the GPS – very complex, cumbersome, confusing, buggy, and frustrating. For me, it was one obstacle to overcome after another, dozens of traps where it was easy to screw up, and many instances where the unit simply did not work correctly. After four months of overcoming problems, I am barely able to use the ONIX, and am far from a level of proficiency where I can use it smoothly and routinely. It’s a situation where I continually strive to reach a favorable endpoint, but I can’t get there because there is always another problem or obstacle.

Acknowledgement
I would like to thank Bushnell Outdoor Products and the BackpackGearTest Group for selecting me to participate in this test.

Will Rietveld



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Reviews > Navigation and Map Gear > GPS > Bushnell ONIX 200 CR GPS > Test Report by Will Rietveld



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