Venture HC, I had spent several hours mountaineering with many of the original eTrex models for years. I believe it is fair to state that while the idea of the original eTrex was awesome, the execution was frequently disappointing.
It disappoints no more. The Venture HC is the eTrex refined. It remedies almost every drawback that affected the original products. The new high-sensitivity receiver is extremely efficient. Numerous times I have stood in wide open spaces cursing my old eTrex because it would not get a single satellite. Last night I activated the Venture HC on the bottom floor of my two story house, and it locked onto eight satellites...through the roof and also the upper floor! You can forget "require a clear view of the sky" messages. Amazing.
The original white and black display has become color, and the interface is now substantially more intuitive, as well as adding much more usefulness. The cable, that has been serial on previous models, has been developed to USB, yet another welcome improvement. The case is somewhat larger than ever before, but the design holds a strong similarities with the original eTrex.
A basemap is included but it's just that - standard. It presents the largest highways, bodies of water, and has some limited ability to display highway exit services. If you need turn-by-turn street directions, an eTrex isn't for you. This is a GPS receiver true to Garmin's outdoor GPS tradition.
Pledged battery life (14 hours) is close to the bottom of the range compared to the existing eTrex models, but is still perfectly adequate and has posed no problems.
One disadvantage that remains is Garmin's waypoint manager PC program. It has the feel and functionality of a software product launched circa 1994. Garmin could certainly develop a better Computer interface. For $49 you are able to buy ExpertGPS from Topografix, or download the free version (EasyGPS)from their website. Either is way more functional than the Garmin OEM program.
Yet, the software criticism is a quibble. The Venture HC itself is superb. It is a market changing product that makes all preceding eTrex products (and many competitors) old-fashioned. In conclusion, an affordable outdoor GPS receiver which i can wholeheartedly endorse.