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Cumbyrocks Reviews The Geomate.Jr

I’ve long been a fan of taking my kids geocaching with me and they, on the whole, have found it to be a fun experience. Being on the younger side, Mr 4 and Mr 5 have tended to focus more on trading swag than on the actual search for a cache, though they still know how to make all the right noises when we turn up a cache.

As they’ve gotten older, though, I’ve discovered their motivation for caching has waned a little, so I started handing them the GPS units to use; the old yellow peril (Garmin Etrex) for Mr 4 and the Otterbox-encased Blackberry for Mr 5, whilst I held onto the Oregon 450. Instantly, their motivation sky-rocketed as the adventure became theirs to lead. No longer did they get thrown into a bush to see if the cache was there, they now willingly threw themselves in to find it.

So with this new development, I was interested to see what the well known kid-friendly caching unit, the Geomate.Jr, was like and how well received it would be by my cache- and GPS-savvy kids.

For those unfamiliar with the Geomate.Jr it is a GPS unit that aims to make geocaching more accessible to kids and families by being more affordable, easy to use and a complete work-out-of-the-box solution. Those three aims –  affordability, ease of use and out-of-the-box solution – seem like a good place to start when judging how successful the Geomate.Jr is as a geocaching GPS unit.

But before we continue lets not forget the most important thing – this is a GPS unit for kids and families. It’s not intended to rival standard handheld GPS units that have all the bells and whistles, it’s intended to make it easier for kids and families to geocache. So it’s important we don’t look at it and say “well, it doesn’t have this or that”. It’s not supposed too.

Affordability

The acid test for this has got to be where the unit ranks in terms of price on Amazon.com. Amazon stocks a huge range of GPS units and also tends to have excellent prices, so it provides us with a good judge of where the Geomate.Jr comes in on price. Which, it turns out, is the absolute cheapest.

Using the Buy New price the Geomate.Jr currently comes in at US$63.99, $11 less than next cheapest, the Garmin Etrex H. Whilst not wanting to delve into comparing apples to oranges the pricing of the Geomate.Jr below the oldest available units really does add substance to it’s claim of affordability.

No activity is ever without some level of cost and it seems to me that the Geomate.Jr has the cost of getting the kids and family into geocaching cut right back to the lowest possible.

Ease of Use

The Geomate.Jr operates only the core functions for a geocaching GPS and it stands to reason that this makes it considerably easier to use. With only three buttons on the unit it is certainly hard to go wrong.

Having the ability to simply press the power button, wait for satellite reception, and then head off in the direction of the cache is magnificently simple and perfect for the intended user group.

To back up the ease of use claim I gave my (then) 3 year old 2 minutes instruction on how to use the Geomate.Jr. An hour later we headed to the park and he was, all by himself, able to turn it on and head away for the nearest cache. If a three year old is able to understand it then anyone can!

One of the best things about the Geomate.Jr is the size. I was a little surprised when I opened the package as I thought it was a lot bigger, but when I placed it in the kids hands I realised it was small for a reason. It’s light as a feather and snuggly fits in the palm of kids hands, making it easier and more fun for them to carry. Mr 5 often gets tired of holding the old yellow peril (Garmin eTrex) but is yet to complain once about holding the Geomate.

One of the three buttons allows the user to scroll through five different screens, whilst the other button allows them to make selections on those screens. The screens scroll through in the same order, which some experienced users could find slightly annoying. But recalling that this is a unit designed for kids to use it makes sense that finding the screen they want shouldn’t be a maze.

Updating the database is easy and the online tools provide a number of simple methods to get the caches you want onto the unit. I’m yet to do so but I’m pretty sure Mr 5 could easily learn how to Out of the Box Solution

It doesn’t get more out of the box than opening it up, turning it on and finding a cache! I expected to find the Geomate stocked full of North American caches and needing to be reloaded for use here in New Zealand. So I was particularly pleased to find it all ready loaded with the Oceania area. It doesn’t get more out of the box than ripping it open, turning it on and finding a cache!

When I looked later I noted that the Geomate had been loaded the day it was sent, so the database couldn’t get any more up to date from the manufacturer.  That’s great service.

Performance

I’m in the process of conducting further testing on the Geomate Jr, so that those interested in the more technical performance can see how it rates against some others. So until I finish the testing you’ll have to take my word for it that the Geomate.Jr picks up satellites quickly, which is a must considering the attention span of most kids.

In addition to grabbing satellites quickly it seems to have very good accuracy. So far it’s performance has been as good as any of the other units I’ve been using. Again, it’s important for the kids that the unit can get them in the right spot, making the cache easier to find, otherwise the frustration of a long search can put them off the game.

Conclusion

If you have kids and like caching then the Geomate.Jr is a fantastic addition to your caching tool set. It is great as a unit to keep the kids interested in hunting the caches you are after or, alternatively, you can use it to take the kids out on their own geocaching mission – a much better idea than just taking them to the playground!

A great idea for the kids this Christmas, especially as it’s proven to be affordable, easy to use and an out of the box solution. I’ve tried and tried to find some kind of fault with it, but really I can’t. It is perfectly designed for what it is meant to do and I highly recommend it.

 

3 comments

  1. Mike Belanger (aka "AeroMechAZ")

    I bought one for my lady friend who has kids; they seem to really like it. True, it can’t find Mystery/Puzzle/Unknowns or Multi’s (only Traditional Caches), but because it’s for kids, it doesn’t really matter.

    1. Cumbyrocks

      Actually it can find puzzles and multis, if you know the final coordinates. In the Geomate.Jr update zone you have the ability to add custom caches, so you can add the finals for puzzles etc.

  2. Julie Shimon

    I just started purchasing these units for my geocache kids clubs. Currently I own two, one I bought for $40 on amazon.com and the second as a set with the download cable from REI. I also endorse these units as perfect models for kids/families as their ease and accuracy, as well as the price tag, open up geocaching to pretty much anyone. With the geomate account you can also customize caches and dowload that file to the unit. I primarily used this function for my school club as I would set up different temporary caches, not listed on geocaching.com, each week. Just be warned… I learned the hard way that only a single “Custom cache” file can be downloaded, and any successive ones seem to overwrite the most current. I’m not sure how many individual sets of coordinates (caches) can be added to one of these files as the most I had was 20. Overall, great units and now my kids can also each use one of them while I get to covet my Garmin GPSMAP62s!!

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