Garmin G-12 vs. Magellan 4000XL and 1998 version of 2000XL By: Dale DePriest Revision: 6/12/98 The article will attempt to compare Garmin 12 and the Magellan 4000XL. The should apply also to a comparison with the 1998 version of the Magellan 2000XL except where mentioned. I am writing this to help folks in the user community understand the differences between Magellan and Garmin products and in response to requests for Garmin/Magellan comparisons at this price point. I don't own a Magellan but I do have a friend with one. He loaned me his manual and this comparison is primarily based on my Garmin experience vs. a Magellan manual. I need help here, If I get something wrong in the 4000XL or 1998 2000XL area please post a correction (no flames please). I will try to be as impartial as I can with the obvious bias. I am planning to get with my friend and compare units in a live setting but this will have to do for now. The G12 is representative of the new 12 channel parallel receivers available from Garmin. The 4000XL and 2000XL can be found in two configurations. One is a 2 channel unit while the second is a 12 channel parallel unit. There is no obvious difference on the outside to identify the difference but the performance difference is considerable. The 4000XL has sister products called 3000XL (a marine centric version) and the 2000XL with a few less features. Only the 2000XL survives in this years line up of units from Magellan. It seems to have all of the features of the older 4000XL except for the availability of an external antenna plus the TD Loran grid from the older 3000XL. For this article I will refer to the 4000XL as XL. Both units have a similar outside appearance with a patch antenna, a 64x100 graphics screen, and a keyboard. The G12 has the keyboard in the middle of the unit while the XL places it at the bottom. The two keyboards look like: Garmin Magellan GO ^ PG PWR LGT PWR < > MK NAV ^ GO CLR v EN < EN > CLR v MNU Key Legend: GO=Goto, ^=Up Arrow, PG=Page, PWR=Power on/off, LGT=Light <=Left Arrow, >=Right Arrow, MK=Mark, NAV=Navigation CLR=Clear, v=Down Arror, EN=Enter, MNU=Menu As can be seen the Garmin has one less key, sharing the light switch with the power on/off switch. The 4 arrow keys have the same meaning, the Goto keys, CLear keys, and Enter keys have similar meanings. The NAV key on the XL performs similar to the Page key on the G12. The G12 has a dedicated Mark key to Save a waypoint while the XL has a dedicated Menu key. (Some Garmins have replaced the Mark key with a Menu key while the newest Magellans have added a Mark key.) Both machines offer a set of screens that the user can move between by hitting a key. The XL uses the NAV key for this purpose with an alternate method using the up and down arrow keys to permit moving either way. The G12 using the Clear and Page keys to move either way with the page key doubling as the key to retrieve messages. The XL just presents the message but does not tend to have alert messages. Instead there are small icons at the bottom of the screen to indicate alerts such as alarms and low battery warnings. These icons appear on all screens but only as needed. There are also icons for 2D, poor coverage, DGPS, Lock or NoLock, and Light on. For the G12 some of these items are on message alerts while the others are only available on the Status screen. The G12 screens are, in order of presentation: Status, Position, Map, Navigation, Active Route, Menu. Active Route is only present in the order when a route is active. The Navigation screen is user selectable between a Compass display and a Road display. The XL screens are, in order of presentation: Position1, Position2, Navigation1, Navigation2, Pointer, Plotter, and Road. Position2 is optional and may be turned on or off from the setup menu. An additional initialization screen appears when needed that shows a map of the world and permits you to select your starting lat/lon graphically. In addition this screen has a menu of starting locations similar to the Initialization menu available on the G12. Satellite Status is not available in the rotation but is on a menu selection option. In general the XL screens are more single purpose screens which may require screen switching a little more often than the G12. Both machines use the ENTER key in two ways. When something is selected then the ENTER keys confirms the selection (CLR cancels it). When nothing is selected then the ENTER key brings up a local menu. The global menu in the G12 is in the rotation while the global menu on the XL is on a dedicated key. However the XL is much more menu oriented than the G12 which also supports an object oriented paradigm. On G12 screens pushing the arrow keys will often select an object which may then be operated on using the ENTER key. For this reason many commands on the G12 are implied while on the XL they are explicitly on the local menu. The status screen on the G12 performs the functions on the Satellite status screen on the XL and some of the icons on the bottom of the XL screen. In addition the G12 screen includes the satellite number and a battery gauge. Both machines track up to 12 SV's. The XL status screen shows signal strength only as a number while the G12 shows it as a bar graph. The new 2000XL can display bar charts by hitting the Enter key and switching modes. The position screen on the G12 has a graphic edge view of a compass, the track, speed, odometer, elevation, position and time. The two entries odometer and elevation are actually programmable and can be changed to show other entries, max speed, trip time, elapsed time, or average speed. On the XL the position screen shows the position, elevation, date, time, and datum. A second position screen can be used to show the position in a different grid system. Both units support a similar list of grids with the XL also supporting a user definable grid similar in function to the user defined grid on the G12 only defined much differently. The XL has two odometers which can be seen using the main menu. The NAV1 screen on the XL shows a graphic CDI (course deviation indicator). The CDI indicator on the XL may be scaled with the left/right arrow keys. The CDI values can be shown as text on the G12 and is indicated graphically at the bottom of the road screen by have the road shift positions. In addition the NAV1 screen supports 4 programmable data fields while the NAV2 screen supports 4 more with no graphics. The fields are selected from a menu list that includes BRG, HDG (TRK on the G12), DIST, Speed, VMG, CTS, XTE, TTG (time to go)= ETE on the G12 and ETA. The G12 has two navigation screens. One with a large compass rose in the center and a second with a road shown in the center. Each show 4 critical pieces of navigation information, TRK, BRG, DIST, and Speed. There is one independently programmable field on each screen that can show any of cross track error, CTS (course to steer), VMG, TRN, ETE, or ETA. Of course most of these entries are only valid when a goto or route is in effect. The graphics on these screens are the equivalent of the pointer and road screens on the XL. The XL pointer screen shows the top half of a compass and is otherwise similar to the G12 compass screen. The road screens on the two units are very similar in purpose and appearance. In keeping with the single screen/purpose idea on the XL there is less data on the XL, only bearing and distance while the G12 contains data like the XL NAV screens. The headings are configurable to be magnetic north or True North on the XL. The G12 has both of these plus grid north and a user defined north. In addition the heading can be in degrees or mils on the G12. The plotter screen on the XL matches the map screen on the G12. While the plot on the G12 is a display of a 1024 entry customizable track log the track log on the XL is only 48 points and is only customizable by specifying .1, .5, 1, or 5 distance units (or off). Distance units depends on the current distance setting in KM, Miles, or NM. Both use a wrap mode once the track log is full but the G12 can be configured to stop recording if desired. Both units display waypoints (called landmarks on the XL) and can display a route or goto vector. The left/right arrow keys on the XL are used to zoom the display. On the G12 the zoom is done by selecting the zoom function at the top of the display and the arrow keys are used to highlight waypoints on the screen. Information on a highlighted waypoint is available by hitting the enter key which brings up the view/edit waypoint screen. Both units have a pan mode that can be used to pan the screen to view areas not available on the current screen. The G12 can zoom while panning while the XL cannot. Both units can enter a waypoint (landmark) graphically in this mode. The XL can view landmark messages by panning over the top of a landmark and selecting a menu item. Both units can initiate a goto single leg route to selected waypoints or to map coordinates. (The G12 creates a waypoint on the fly with the name "MAP" to accomplish this while the XL can keep a set of temporary coordinates for this purpose.) The display on both units is configurable to north up or track up. The G12 also has DTK, desired track up which can be used when a route or goto is present. The XL icon for current position is an arrow that permits seeing direction as well a position. The G12 has user customizable icons for waypoints (landmarks) while the XL has a different icon for the destination than it uses for other landmarks. Once you start using a GPS for anything beyond finding your current location on a paper map you will quickly find the need for landmarks, called waypoints on the G12. The XL provides storage for 200 while the G12 can save 500. You can easily save your present location on the G12 using the dedicated mark key and on the XL from the local menu (accessed with the ENTER key) by selecting SAVE POS. Both save the LAT/LON and the time of the save. In addition the XL saves the Altitude of the fix. As part of the SAVE POS command on the XL you will be prompted to add a message to the landmark. Only 25 of the landmarks can have a message attached so use these carefully. The message can be up to 20 characters long. The G12 doesn't have a separate message facility but the date field can be overwritten with a 16 character message for any of the 500 waypoints. The name or the message can be chosen to be displayed on the map screen. The landmarks (waypoints) can be viewed on the XL by selecting LMK MENU from the main menu (use the MNU key). The LMK MENU is a complete list of all the landmarks in the system and may be maintained as an alphabetical sort or as a nearest to the current location sort. Once viewed the up and down arrow keys can be used to display an alternate coordinate view of the data (if POS2 is defined in setup) and to view the message, if present. The view includes the bearing and distance data from the current position. The left/right arrow keys can be used to move to the previous/next landmark in the list. The G12 provides many ways to view the Waypoints. You can select one from the map page, from a route page, from the waypoint list or nearest waypoint list on the menu page, or from the waypoint menu item on the main menu page. Once a waypoint is viewed you can view any other waypoint by toggling its name into the waypoint name field. Automatic name completion aids the toggling effort. The waypoint name, 2D location and date (or message) is displayed and can be edited directly by selecting it. In addition a bearing distance field is displayed from a named waypoint. The name can be edited and will be remembered. If the name is all underscores then the location referred to is the current location. Editing this data can redefine the waypoint location in terms of the bearing and distance for another location. New waypoints can be defined by using a new name from the waypoint display. There is no explicit new waypoint command. The XL can create a new landmark in a number of ways that are selectable from a menu. You can enter explicit coordinates, you can project from an existing landmark using bearing and distance similar to the way a G12 can and you can use two ways not present on the G12. You can triangulate a new landmark by using bearings from two existing landmarks and you can project a new landmark by using a ruler on a grided paper map. A scale setup item permits translating ruler distances to X, Y coordinates for the new landmark. In all cases you will need to enter the altitude explicitly. Both units lets you assemble waypoints into routes which can be used to define a journey with multiple legs. The G12 permits 19 routes of up to 30 legs while the XL support 5 routes with up to 20 legs. Technically the G12 actually has 20 routes but the active route must always be route 0 so you activate a route by copying it into route 0. In addition both units will automatically generate a trackback route to retrace your steps. In the XL this is accomplished by saving fixes in a last fix buffer every 10 minutes as you use the unit. The log is 21 entries long and the last 20 will be saved as landmarks if you invoke the trackback command. Note that the tracklog is not used in the XL. The G12 uses the same tracklog as the one displayed on the map screen to produce the trackback. It goes through the log and saves the most significant entries up to a maximum of 30 entries as waypoints and then build a route in route 0. Both systems provide the ability to save the trackback route into a more permanent route. The G12 trackback log can be seen to be a significant difference between the two units. Not only is it much longer than the 48 entries in the XL or the 21 entries in the last fix buffer but it is also much more flexible. It can be used in automatic mode to collect only significant changes in direction which makes it quite usable for hours of data or it can be set to collect data at fixed time intervals making it a superior tool to the XL last fix buffer which is fixed at 10 minute intervals. It can be downloaded via the interface and contains time data as well so speed and other history data can be reconstructed. The only advantage of the last fix buffer is that it can be edited directly from inside the unit. The G12 can accept computer connections or DGPS connection via an accessory cable. It supports both input and output of NMEA data as well as uploading and downloading of tracks, waypoints, routes, and other data. It does not support an external antenna but other Garmin units do. The XL does not use a cable but instead it has a special "docking station" to have computer connections or an external antenna. This adapter requires removal of the batteries and plugs into the slot vacated by the batteries. This means you must supply external power to use any of these features. Once installed the XL supports NMEA output, and input and can upload and download landmarks and routes using a special program. The protocol is simply using the proprietary sentence facility that is part of NMEA. There are three different docking stations available at extra cost with differing capabilities. DGPS input can be used with the latest models I am told. Both units support a wide variety of Grids and Datums. Both support UTM and MGRS. The new 1998 2000XL also supports the TD Loran format. The G12 route screen has customizable data and can be scrolled to view the entire route and distance. The G12 also has 9 proximity alarms. Both units support the notion of arrival alarms. Both units can calculate and display sunrise and sunset but the XL also can display the phases of the moon. Performancewise both units are 12 channel parallel receivers with good sensitivity and neither has any artifical speed limit limitation. There are many other differences but I hope I have highlighted the significant ones. Perhaps people can now decide which one is best for them. I may update this when I get some hands on time on my friends unit if I find out anything interesting. So what did I leave out? Questions? Comments?
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