The feature-rich Garmin 655T mixes the best features of a two-way radio with a full-function handheld GPS. Although users report some battery issues and firmware glitches, they love being able to track their hunting partners' location and communicate clearly for up to 15 miles, depending on conditions.
Comes close to advertised range. The Rino 655T is the one of the few two-way radios we spotted that even comes close to matching its advertised range (20 miles). "If it is hilly at all you can't communicate. On flat areas or if we were on the rolling hilltops you could reach 4-5 miles," writes one Amazon.com reviewer. Another user reports easy, clear contacts at distances of 12 to 15 miles under ideal conditions (line of sight with no terrain obstructions).
GPS, weather radio, and much, much more. In addition to its radio capability, the Garmin Rino 655T is also a fully functional GPS unit. Owners say the GPS component is accurate and that it picks up signals extremely fast, even indoors. Among its features is the ability to show you the direction, name and distance to other members of your party that are also equipped with a 655T, as long as they are in range.
Many user reviews focus on the Rino 655T's GPS function. "The mapping, routing, waypoint saving, editing and deleting is extremely user friendly," writes a user posting to Cabelas.com. "The touch screen is great, fast and simple," writes a user at REI.com, although she misses the presence of a cursor button. Most say the Rino 655T communicates well with previous Rino models, although a few report trouble getting the location polling function -- which shows your contacts' locations on-screen -- to sync between Rino models.
The ability to send unit-to unit texts is a well-liked feature. "It has everything we need, including texting so we can let the other person know why we are going to be late," writes one Amazon.com user. The built-in 5-megapixel autofocus camera is a novel but welcome addition.
On the downside, several owners complain that the Rino 655T doesn't come preloaded with backcountry maps. They say the preloaded 100K maps don't offer enough detail, and they report paying $90 to $100 to buy a more detailed map set.
The Rino 655T also receives weather channels and displays visual alerts. The weather radio feature supports Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) so that you can zero in on warnings for your specific area. Other miscellaneous features include aerial imagery, a barometric altimeter, a hunting and fishing calendar, sun and moon calendar, and alarm clock.
Most users say the unit's screen is easy to read, even in bright sunlight or dimly lit areas. The biggest complaint we found was that the belt clip is unreliable, although one hunter posting to Amazon.com also says that every time his buddies polled his position the radio beeps, which is annoying; he also says it is way too easy to accidentally bump the on/off switch when carrying the radio in his pack.
It's rugged... or not. User opinion is fairly evenly split about whether or not the Garmin Rino 655T lives up to its rugged name. While we found a smattering of praise for the unit's durability -- "rugged and easy to use," writes one Amazon.com user -- others write that it didn't hold up well to being dropped several times. One frustrated Amazon.com user, who found the Rino 655T's LCD screen to be completely unreadable after toting it attached to a daypack strap, complains, "You better treat it like a raw egg. It's extremely delicate!" The counterpoint to this is a BestBuy.com user who reports dragging the Rino 655T along rock during a mountaineering expedition. He says the radio still "works great."
The Garmin Rino 655T's batteries seem to be a particularly sore point. "Battery life is questionable. Does not seem to hold a charge, even when not in use," writes one user at Cabelas.com. Another says the radio won't turn on at all unless plugged into a wall socket, while a third says the 655T turned off on a three-day hunting trip and wouldn't restart, no matter what he did. We also found several complaints that the firmware updates can be prone to glitches.
When the battery does work, users say it lasts around 16 hours with judicious use of the "pause" mode or about eight hours of continuous use. Garmin specifies battery life at 14 hours, or up to 18 hours if you make use of an optional AA alkaline battery pack (*Est. $30).
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Review Credibility: Very Good Amazon.com is one of the best sources of feedback about the Garmin Rino 655T. It gets a 4-star overall rating from about 40 reviewers. Although many of the Rino 655T's features draw praise, we also found several complaints about glitchy firmware updates and some users that were unhappy about having to download more detailed maps for backcountry use.
Review: Garmin Rino 655t US GPS with TOPO 100K Maps, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Good About a dozen users weigh in about the Garmin Rino 655T GPS Radio at Cabelas.com, giving it an overall rating of 3.9 stars out of 5. Most are happy, but there are several complaints about the 655T's batteries not holding a charge.
Review: Garmin(R) Rino 655T GPS Radio, Contributors to Cabelas.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Fair Just four REI.com users review the Garmin Rino 655T, but their overall rating of 4.5 stars is useful feedback. The users are most focused on the Rino 655T's GPS function and overall usability and don't have much to say about its radio function.
Review: Garmin Rino 655t GPS/2-Way Radio, Contributors to REI.com, As of March 2013
Review Credibility: Fair Just a couple of users review the Garmin Rino 655T on BestBuy.com, but they seem pleased thus far. One owner complains of a dead pixel, but notes that otherwise the 655T is quite durable and still "works great" after being dragged against rock while dangling from a climbing harness.
Review: Garmin - Rino 2.6" Handheld GPS Navigator, Contributors to BestBuy.com, As of March 2013