Review Garmin Montana 700 seriesJon Monks
This week Garmin announced the all-new Garmin Montana 700/ 700i and 750i, the latest update for the Garmin Montana range of GPS units. Let’s review Garmin Montana 700 series.
Here at Outdoor GPS Shop we have had the Garmin Montana 700i for a number of months now and have walked extensively with it, so here is our review of the Garmin Montana 700/ 700i and 750i series of GPS units.
An update of the Garmin Montana series has been a long time coming. The update from the Montana 600 to 610 (also 650 to 680) was a very small upgrade.
Therefore, a big upgrade was needed for the Garmin Montana series and this is certainly that, the unit is hardly recognisable compared to previous models.
Appearance and screen size
The Montana 700 series of units has certainly kept its rugged design, I personally think it has taken much of its design from the massively popular Garmin GPSMAP 66 range of units with the Quad Helix antenna sticking out of the top of the unit.
The screen size is a stunning 5 inches diagonal (6,4 x 10,8 cm (4″, 5,0 x 8,9 cm)) and this is crystal clear gorilla glass, which has been more proven on the Oregon range of GPS units.
The screen resolution on the Garmin Montana 700 series is 480 x 800 pixels (272 x 480 pixels)
As with the Garmin GPSMAP 66s the new Garmin Montana 700 series of GPS units has upgraded to using GPS and GALILEO (new ultra-accurate European satellites).
The Montana 700 also has the option to use the Russian GLONASS system, but this is not the case with the 700i or 750i as these units have to incorporate an IRIDIUM antenna which is used for the two way satellite communication (inReach technology).
These all come with Barometric altimeter, 3-axis compass, preinstalled maps (Garmin TopoActive), smartphone connectivity, compatible with Garmin Connect & Garmin Explore App.
The Montana 700i comes with the key features above plus inReach technology (Iridium satellite network, 2-way-messaging, exchange text messages, SOS alerts, location sharing, active weather), preinstalled CityNavigator maps.
The Montana 750i comes with all the features on the Montana 700 I and it also has the addition of an 8 MP camera
Review Garmin Montana 700 series – first impressions
The 5-inch screen is truly stunning and is crystal clear, in bright sunshine it is the best screen I have seen on any outdoor GPS unit.
The speed of the processor is good and the map renders quickly. I was walking with the unit, but I appreciate many will end on push and trail bikes and it is, therefore, essential the map renders quickly.
Review Garmin Montana 700 series – power
The Montana 700 series comes with an interchangeable Lithium battery.
Whilst using this it has performed very well. Garmin quote an 18-hour battery life, but I was finding it nearer to 14 hours, still plenty of power for a good day in the hills.
It is so good to see such good battery improvements from Garmin, the first we saw of such good battery performance was on the Garmin GPSMAP 66i, but with the 66i the battery was not interchangeable. With the new Montana 700 series, the lithium battery is interchangeable, and you can even get an accessory that enables you to even run the unit from AA batteries if you so wish.
Also, it’s great to see the addition of Expedition Mode, this cuts down some of the functionality but improves the battery life to up 2 weeks (according to Garmin).
Review Garmin Montana 700 series – interface
The Montana 700 has an interesting interface, it seems to be a hybrid of both the Oregon and the GPSMAP 66s.
It has a short cut ribbon across the bottom (similar to the Garmin GPSMAP 66s/ 66i) but you still have the tradition ‘main menu’, with all the icons we have grown to love with a Garmin GPS unit.
With the unit having such a large screen it gives you the ability to view all the icons on the main menu.
On so many Garmin GPS units you must scroll through pages and pages of icons but the large screen on the Garmin Montana makes life so much easier, with everything visible on the one screen.
Review Garmin Montana 700 series – connectivity
Connectivity is the new buzz word with GPS units, with the new Garmin Montana. With the Garmin Montana 700 series of GPS unit you get –
ANT+ – This enables you to connect to sensors and devices and allows you to exchange data with a compatible Garmin GPS devices.
Bluetooth – The Montana range of GPS units uses the Bluetooth for pairing with your smartphone and thus exchanging data with the Garmin Connect App and the Garmin Explore App, which enables you to transfer .gpx files to your GPS without the need for a PC or Mac.
USB – Used for charging and data exchange with PC and Mac, enabling you to plan activities on either the TOPO active mapping or the OS maps on your computer.
Wi-Fi – This is used for downloading BirdsEye satellite images, retrieving weather data, uploading activities to Garmin Connect, performing software updates and retrieving live geocaching data.
Review Garmin Montana 700i/ 750i series – two-way satellite communication
Using the worldwide coverage of the Iridium satellite network the Montana 700i and 750i lets you exchange text messages with any mobile phone number or email address anywhere – while using GPS to track and share your journey’s progress. You can also post to social media or even communicate inReach-to-inReach in the field.
For the inReach two-way satellite communication to work, you need to sign up to a subscription with Garmin, these start from £15.99/ month (safety plan).
In case of an at-risk situation, you can also use inReach to trigger an SOS message to the 24/7 monitoring centre, text back and forth about the nature of your emergency, and receive professional advice and confirmation when help is on the way.
We first saw the inReach technology built into the Garmin GPSMAP66i unit and it is great to now see this on the new Montana 700i and 750i.
After spending a couple of months walking with the Montana 700i I cannot fault it.
It is a larger GPS to carry, but of course, it has to be as it has that stunning 5-inch screen on it. I think the unit will certainly change the marketplace for large screen GPS units going forward.
Garmin has certainly rewritten the rule book here, producing a large screen GPS unit without the bulk we see from other large-screen units.