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Garmin Rino 120 - Product Review

Posted in Product Reviews on October 1, 2003
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Contributors: Mark Nobles

Garmin Rino 120
Four-wheelers have long been making effective use of new technologies, sometimes even finding ways to adapt hardware and software to off-road applications where it hadn't been previously considered. Nowhere has this been more evident than in the use of GPS systems. The ubiquitous handheld GPS units have become common gear in many off-road rigs because of their ability to make navigating new trails much easier and because they can easily record coordinates, allowing four-wheelers to create custom maps of their favorite trails.

Now Garmin has taken the next step in combining two technologies essential to safe, fun four-wheeling: two-way radio and GPS. The WAAS-enabled (Wide Area Augmentation System) Rino 120 has a 12-channel GPS receiver, as well as 14 FRS (2-mile range) and 8 GMRS (5-mile range) channels with 38 squelch (privacy) codes. It can also store as many as 500 waypoints and 20 tracks and comes with a built-in base map that covers major city highways and streets in the U.S., Canada, and South America. In addition, the 120 has 8 MB of internal memory (no upgrade possible), to which you can download additional maps, such as the MetroGuide and Topo maps.

What really makes the Rino unique, though, is that the integration between radio and GPS allows one Rino user to simply push a button to tell another Rino user where he or she is over the radio. The other Rino will display your location graphically on its map display in relation to the icon you choose in your device's settings - this is a great feature! The only thing to bear in mind is that it only works over FRS channels, so you can be no more than 2 miles away.

Anyone accustomed to manipulating handheld GPS units will find the Rino 120 simple to use. Moving from screen to screen is fairly intuitive, although the "stick pointer" on the face of the unit can seem a little sensitive at first. During our testing in the heavily wooded Northwest, we had trouble maintaining our satellite connection, although that is par for the course with any GPS unit when there isn't a clear sky above. FRS reception remained steady and clear as far as 1.5 miles or so, and then it became choppy before cutting out.

We enjoyed the Rino 120 immensely. It's easy to use, fits well in the hand, and is a great tool that successfully combines communication and navigation.

Further Facts
For more information, contact: Garmin, Dept. 4WDSU, 1200 E. 151st St., Olathe, KS 66062, (913) 397-8200, www.garmin.com.

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