Published in the September 2008 Issue September 2008 Brady L. Kay

I was told that the Rino 520HCx from Garmin was a must-have item, but to be honest it was the price the scared me away. With a suggested retail price of $482.13, I was a little hesitant, but still wanted to get my hands on one.

Now that I've got it (and I'm still finding new features on it everyday) I'm not sure I could do without it. As far as hand-held GPS units go, this Rino does it all. It's easy to use and the high-sensitivity GPS has all the functions I need for a boat test. The Rino sports five watts of transmit power, comes with a microSD card slot so you can preload MapSource date cards with detailed maps, plus it has a brilliant color display.

I tested it out in the Grand Canyon after putting the boat in at Temple Bar on Lake Mead in Arizona. Even in the deep canyons, the Rino was able to locate our position quickly and precisely. Like the rest of the Rino series, the Rino 520HCx offers a unique Position Reporting feature that lets you send your exact location to other Rino users in your group so that everyone can see your position on the map page. This is an amazing feature that really comes in handy if you're traveling with a second boat.

And if that wasn't enough, it is also a standard FRS/GMRS radio that you can use to communicate with any other conventional FRS/GMRS radios around. Garmin says it will allow you to contact others from up to 14 miles away (line of sight) and I found this to be true.

Another great feature that I recently discovered (I know I should look at the manual more) was the automatic routing and turn-by-turn directions with alert tones to let you find an address or point of interest when you have the optional MapSource map data.

If you just look at the price, especially if you're considering buying two so you can make the most of the features, it might overwhelm you a little. But once you actually use one out on the water, you'll see just how valuable they can be.

The Rino is waterproof and quite durable, and it's the best way to stay in contact with another boat. It's by far the best handheld GPS that I've ever seen and that doesn't even take into consideration the valuable radio feature. You pay for great technologies and in my opinion this one is well worth it. This Rino should be on every boater's wish list.

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