General info > GPS > Lowrance Endura GPS with Quo
Lowrance Endura Sierra GPS with Quo
Digital mapping specialists Mapyx, who produce the Quo mapping software, have teamed up with Lowrance to provided their Quo mobile software on a proper GPS. The advantage: that you only have to buy your Ordnance Survey mapping once, to use on your PC and then again on your GPS device. In this case Mapyx has been fortunate in that a decent GPS already on the market uses the Microsoft operating system that underlies their own mobile software, so with a bit of tweaking (well, quite a lot actually) the two have been made to work together. Three of the Lowrance Endura GPS devices have been adapted in this way, so you have a choice of functionality too.
So how good is it? Well it all works pretty smoothly. If you have an SD card with Quo mobile and some maps installed, the GPS recognises that you want to use Quo rather than the standard GPS functions and so opens directly into the Quo software. The maps you have appear on the screen much as you would expect and the device records your track using a very clear and very red dotted line. The screen is bright and with plenty of contrast, better in this respect than rivals like the SatMap or Garmin Oregon, though it is smaller.
Depending on what mapping you have on the SD card, zooming in and out automatically selects the best scale for your needs. There are only a handful of zoom levels so this can seem a little restrictive, but actually the choice of map is very sensible. For instance you only see 1:25,000 scale Explorer mapping if you are zoomed in sufficiently to make sense of the detail. Zoom out and the device switches to 1:50,000 scale mapping; further out and it goes to a road map. On the hill I found that this was exactly what I wanted the thing to do; I really did not want to be fiddling with it selecting map scales.
Having disabled the standard GPS functions you might be concerned that you would lose useful tools like a GPS compass or trip computer. You don’t, as they are all fully replicated in the Quo software. The graphics are well designed and the menu system is, for the most part, perfectly usable (though you do need to learn your way around – not an issue that is unique to Quo by any means). Acquisition of satellites and locating your position was as fast as you would expect from a dedicated GPS device; there were no signicant delays.
Mapyx have been working with the search and rescue organisations to develop add-ons for search management and keeping in touch with other team members. The experience from this is undoubtedly paying off in terms of ease of use of the software as well as more specialist functions. As a rescue volunteer myself I have had the Sierra out on various exercises and one long search. It performed well, keeping an accurate record of where we had been (an important issue when you need to be sure that you have covered all the ground) and displaying that information clearly on the screen.
There are some oddities, no doubt the result of grafting the software onto an existing GPS device. When the software boots up you need to go into a menu to start the GPS as it doesn’t start automatically. It only takes a couple of seconds but it’s easy to forget to do it. Likewise when you turn it off, to change batteries for instance, and start it up again, you need to reload your last track from the track list. But this is perhaps a small price to pay for having your Quo software running on a very rugged – indeed quite reassuringly chunky – GPS device.
The Lowrance Endura series of GPS devices – the Out&Back, Safari and Sierra – all use standard AA batteries, so it’s easy to have backup power when you are out and about. As with all colour screen devices they can be quite battery hungry – if you use it heavily it will run down the pair of batteries within a few hours. To make the device economical to run you would probably want to buy some rechargeable batteries and a charger; four batteries should keep you going all day. Otherwise it could work out quite expensive.
The Lowrance Endura devices can be bought direct from the Mapyx website.