About six months ago I blogged on a few items we’d chosen for backcountry electronics. We’ve given the stuff a pounding — time for an update. The Canon A620 has been incredible. Actually, I’m writing of the TWO A620s we now own, since one spent nearly six months buried in the snowpack and was retrieved when it finally melted out in spring. We’re still using that camera, as well as its replacement. Incredible battery life, works in the cold, even takes good video. Gotta love it.
Is Canon going to upgrade the 620 to something that still has the foldout LCD but more megapixels and wider range zoom?I might sound like I’m praising something like the cup holders in my truck when I exalt the foldout LCD on this camera, but it is incredibly useful for odd angles and self portraits, and also folds face to the camera for protection from impacts or from nose sunscreen when you’re using the viewfinder. New stuff is coming from Canon, we can only hope the trick LCD won’t die.
(September 15 update: It appears the Canon’s upgrades of their A series (stands for using AA batteries) cameras might be the ticket. Info here.)
The Origo alti watch has held up and it works, but we’re not awed by its performance as the altitiude readout seems to jump around way too much. If you need an altimeter give the Origo a hands on test and see what you think, as the price can be very attractive. I also mentioned the Highgear Axis watch in the initial review. That puppy has undergone the ultimate torture test, buckled to my daypack shoulder strap on everything from fourteener ski descents to 4×4 rock crawling trips. If you’re shopping check it out as well, as our impression is that it’s a better unit than the Origo. In our opinion all altimeter watches need a control lock. Buttons such as those on the Origo and Highgear are easy to push (as they should be), but they get pressed accidentally by who knows what and it drives you crazy. Makes you reach for the superglue.
Bummer is the LG C1500 cell phone. These things are the biggest chunk of junk this side of Jupiter. I’m now on a warranty replacement but still frustrated. The range of the LG is severely limited, and it tends to drop calls more than other cell phones I’ve used when in fringe areas. I finally had to buy an external antenna for my truck just so I could talk from within the vehicle for more than 30 seconds at a shot — even when I’m line-of-sight of a cell tower! On top of that, the first LG I got malfed bigtime a few weeks ago. It quit working for no good reason. I hadn’t dropped it (in my beer or on the floor), the thing just started acting funny and eventually became unusable. Cingular’s warranty service was good. But hey, now I have the same model phone only without my address book, and Murphy knows it’ll probably explode again just after the warranty is up. Highly un-recommended, but I’ll test it to the bitter end.
Woops, forgot to mention the Mammut Barryvox avalanche transceiver. Mine quit working towards the end of the winter, and Mamut warrantied it immediately. I used the new one on quite a few trips, but also used my Tracker when headed somewhere that seemed more risky — I have to admit to a bit of concern with the Mamut. That said, I’ve not heard any big shout about Barryvox transceivers quitting all over the place, so mine was probably a rare failure and perhaps the result of me dropping it or something like that. Transceivers in general need to be smaller and more durable, I think we’ll eventually see that trend. I really don’t care if they can do fancy multiple victim searches or find a heartbeat — I just want it to work, have good battery life and not feel like a brick. Am I the only voice crying for that?
But you know how they market cell phones. “Sorry about the missed calls and dropouts, do you like the built in camera?”
There you go. Please leave comments about what cell phones you think have good durability and range, and let us know when you find a good alti watch with a lock button that’ll work for backcountry skiing.
|Backcountry skiing electronics. Canon A620 digital camera, Origo OC-036 altimeter watch, LG C1-500 cell phone.|