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Hands-on Gear Review

Magellan eXplorist 510 Review

Price:   $279 List
Pros:  3.2 MP camera, video and voice recorder, touchscreen, detailed baseman.
Cons:  Non-rechargeable battery, loop at bottom is unnecessary, split keyboard is annoying, poor screen quality.
Editors' Rating:     
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Manufacturer:   Magellan

Our Verdict

The Magellan eXplorist 510 is mid-performance GPS unit with all the bells and whistles. You can fully document your adventures using the built-in 3.2MP camera, video and voice recorder. This GPS and WAAS-enabled receiver provides decent reception to mark way points and follow tracks. Even though we liked all the extra perks and features, we also had our caveats. It features a larger three-inch screen, but we were unhappy with its plastic construction. Of all our tested devices, it produced the most glare in both high and low light. Many of our testers did not like how the keyboard was split between two screens. Finally, we wished this device had a rechargeable battery. Aside from these issues, this is a decent and feature-filled device.

If you're looking for a more powerful unit with similar features, check out the Garmin Montana 680. It is the only other device tested with a camera, and a better one at that. Or if you like the eXplorist but want better performance, check out the Magellan eXplorist 610 or Magellan eXplorist 710.


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Score Product Price Dimensions (in.) Display Size (in.) Display Resolution (pixels)
83
$400
Editors' Choice Award
2.4 x 4.5 x 1.3 1.5 x 2.5 240 x 400
80
$300
Top Pick Award
2.4 x 6.3 x 1.4 1.43 x 2.15 160 x 240
75
$550
2.9 x 5.7 x 1.4 2 x 3.5 272 x 480
71
$200
Best Buy Award
2.1 x 4.0 x 1.3 1.4 x 1.7 240 x 320
56
$279
2.57 x 5.04 x 1.45 1.5 X 2.7 240 x 400

Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
Amber King
Senior Review Editor
OutdoorGearLab

Last Updated:
Sunday
April 17, 2016

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The Magellan eXplorist 510 is perfect for the adventurer who likes to fully document her or his missions. Enjoy the on-board camera, video, and voice recorder among other features.

Performance Comparison


The Magellan eXplorist was a fine navigational partner while exploring the Alaskan Range. Taking pictures instead of typing waypoints was much more convenient. If you like to fully document your missions  this is the GPS for you.
The Magellan eXplorist was a fine navigational partner while exploring the Alaskan Range. Taking pictures instead of typing waypoints was much more convenient. If you like to fully document your missions, this is the GPS for you.

Reception


Units that utilize both GPS and GLONASS satellite networks are typically more accurate than those without.
Even though the reception is not as accurate as the most powerful handhelds like the Garmin Montana 680, the eXplorist 510 will get you where you need to go. Utilizing GPS networks (no GLONASS) and WAAS compatibility, this unit is able to find your position within one minute of turning on. It's not as accurate as Garmin devices. While sitting at basecamp on a glacier in Alaska, one of our testers took a video, voice recording, and waypoint while cozying down in a sleeping bag. When checking the locations of each, the map showed each taken at a different location within 10 meters of each other. This coupled with other tests showed us the accuracy was not as good as other devices, but good enough to perform basic navigational tasks.

Ease of Use


The eXplorist 510 comes with touchscreen capabilities, one power button, and two non-programmable buttons on the left side of the unit. We liked the quick access buttons to use the 3.2 MP built-in camera and mark waypoints.

This touchscreen unit has three buttons - one for power  marking way points  and camera access.
This touchscreen unit has three buttons - one for power, marking way points, and camera access.

We were a little disappointed with the keyboard configuration on this unit. As opposed to having a full touchscreen keyboard, Magellan splits the keyboard in half, forcing you to toggle between two screens. We found this especially annoying when typing long way point descriptions. That said, we did like how a video, voice recording, or picture could be used as a way point to better document adventures.

Even though we loved the big keyboard  the split keyboard was very inconvenient.
Even though we loved the big keyboard, the split keyboard was very inconvenient.

The interface has a different setup than others tested. Where other units like the DeLorme and Garmin devices utilize the menu as a default screen, Magellan uses its map as a default.

The back cover comes off easily with the turn of a screw. Here you can put in 2 AA batteries. Unfortunately there is no rechargeable battery option.
The back cover comes off easily with the turn of a screw. Here you can put in 2 AA batteries. Unfortunately there is no rechargeable battery option.

This is nice to quickly locate your position, but takes some time to get to menu options. That said, you can program shortcuts to get you where you need to go quickly. Overall, the eXplorist 510 offers many features that are fun and easy to use, but it takes some time to get to know.

Display Quality


The three-inch screen is a good size. It is a little larger than the Garmin eTrex 20x but not as big as the Montana 680.

Here Kelly and Dan compare the screens of the (left to right) Garmin Montana 680  Magellan eXplorist 510  and Garmin Oregon 600. The Oregon's screen was the easiest to see and crisp in these high light conditions. The Montana 680's screen is large but produces glare on high light days  as does the Magellan. These are the three touchscreens we tested.
Here Kelly and Dan compare the screens of the (left to right) Garmin Montana 680, Magellan eXplorist 510, and Garmin Oregon 600. The Oregon's screen was the easiest to see and crisp in these high light conditions. The Montana 680's screen is large but produces glare on high light days, as does the Magellan. These are the three touchscreens we tested.

The plastic screen is the least durable of all those tested and also reflected the most light in both high and low light conditions. As a result, this device earned lowest marks in this metric. If you want a GPS with a great screen, check out the modern Garmin Oregon 600 (our Editors' Choice).

Speed


Units these days aren't as slow as they used to be. The Magellan eXplorist 510 is about average but not as quick as the Garmin Montana 680. The touchscreen was not as sensitive as other touchscreens, so we had to push the screen a little harder than others. Redrawing maps and performing all other functions wasn't slow, but it wasn't the fastest of the devices tested, either.

Weight and Size


This device weighs 8.5 oz (with batteries), which is a great size and weight for carrying on longer trips. You can also fit this into a chest pocket if necessary. If you want something lighter, check out the Garmin eTrex 20x (weighs only 5 oz).

Here we compare all units. From left to right: Garmin eTrex 20x  Garmin Montana 680  Garmin GPSMAPS 64s  Magellan eXplorist 510  Garmin Oregon 600  DeLorme PN-60. The eTrex 20x is our smallest and lightest unit.
Here we compare all units. From left to right: Garmin eTrex 20x, Garmin Montana 680, Garmin GPSMAPS 64s, Magellan eXplorist 510, Garmin Oregon 600, DeLorme PN-60. The eTrex 20x is our smallest and lightest unit.

Versatility


This is the only GPS unit that features a 3.2 MP camera, voice recorder, and video camera.
Given that this device is packed with features, we thought it was incredibly versatile. We were able to use this device with both thick and thin gloves, making it a great compadre in all seasons. This was also the only device with video and voice recording. The camera is only 3.2 MP, where the Montana 680 sports a 8 MP camera. It also only features a differential compass (we prefer an electronic compass) with no wireless sharing capabilities. It also can't recharge batteries. If you want all that, check out the Garmin Montana 680 instead.

Kelly checks her tracks while skiing in Colorado.
Kelly checks her tracks while skiing in Colorado.

Value


At just $279.00, we believe you get a great value for all the extra perks.

Conclusion


The Magellan eXplorist 510 comes with all the bells and whistles. If you like to take videos, pictures, and voice recordings on all your adventures, this may be the device for you.

Other Versions


Magellan eXplorist 610
-Similar features as the Magellan eXplorist 510
-Tri-axial electronic compass & barometric altimeter
-$349.99
Amber King

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Most recent review: April 17, 2016
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