“Garmin is clearly the expert when it comes to reliable GPS technology, and we’re the pioneer in satellite dog tracking,” said Dan Bartel, Garmin’s vice president of worldwide sales. “Since the original Astro was delivered, we’ve listened closely to feedback from houndsmen and bird dog owners. The Astro 320 is the result of that feedback.”
Thanks to an included redesigned antenna, the maximum range between the Astro 320 and a Garmin tracking collar has been increased by nearly 30 percent – up to nine miles in flat, unobstructed terrain. Like its predecessor, the Astro 320 can track up to 10 dogs per receiver at once, and the unit is fully compatible with Garmin’s DC 20, DC 30, and DC 40 dog tracking collars and accessories.
Robust mapping capability has always been a hallmark of the Astro line, and the new Astro 320 delivers even more highly detailed, full color, sunlight readable mapping capabilities. In addition to the pre-installed basemap, the Astro can be loaded with 100k or 24k Topo maps or photorealistic BirdsEye Satellite Imagery ($29.99 annual subscription required). The Astro 320 has 1.7 gigabytes of on-board memory available for loading maps, and a microSD slot for pre-loaded cards.
Mapping depicts important nearby geographical features – and lets hunters know, for example, if their dog has crossed a creek or is nearing a dangerous road. With BirdsEye Satellite Imagery, hunters can pinpoint buildings, powerlines, and even individual trees – directly on their Astro 320. State wildlife departments are also offering more and more downloadable third-party maps of public hunting boundaries, which help ensure dogs and their owners are on legal ground. Hunters and trainers can also download, view and save their dog’s tracks to a computer for viewing in Garmin’s BaseCamp utility – a great tool for evaluating performance.
All these features are integrated into a refined user interface for easier and more useful operation. Not only does the Astro 320 indicate a dog’s distance and status, (running, pointing, or treeing) but it can be toggled to indicate the direction the dog is moving on the unit’s map page. Each dog’s precise distance can also be presented on the map page, and users can choose an option that auto zooms the map so all dogs can be seen on the display at any time. Alternately, dogs that are too far away to fit on the map’s current zoom scale can be notated on the display’s margin in the direction of the dog’s location. The user can also choose the duration that each dog’s tracklog is viewed on the display – or toggle it off completely for a cleaner display. Taken together, these refinements give dog handlers more data that is more easily understood – making their hunt or training session safer, more productive, and more enjoyable.
A new three-axis electronic compass lets hunters accurately view their dog’s position when holding the Astro 320 at any angle. In addition to audible alerts, Garmin has also incorporated a new vibration feature on the Astro 320, and the new handheld also features a handy keypad lock so buttons aren’t accidentally pushed while being carried in a pocket or through thick brush. Dog handlers can wirelessly transfer waypoints, tracks, and even their dog’s tracking settings to other Astro 320 users. The new Astro 320 is fully waterproof and runs on two AA batteries for up to 20 hours.
For current Astro users looking to upgrade, the Astro 320 handheld unit has an MSRP of $499.99. A complete system, which includes an Astro 320 and one DC 40 tracking collar and accessories, will be available for $649.99 (MSRP). The Astro 320 is expected to be available in July 2011.