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DeLorme Earthmate PN-30 Review

The DeLorme Earthmate PN-30 is a powerful full-mapping handheld GPS that uses a 32-channel WAAS-enabled GPS receiver and has 1-GB of internal memory.

Two Earthmate models are currently available, though they are similar in both hardware and software the PN-40 model adds a digital compass with accelerometer and a barometric altimeter.

delorme earthmate pn-30 handheld marine gps

DeLorme Earthmate PN-30

The PN-30 ships as a complete ready-to-go package with a USB cable, owner’s manual, quick start guide, pair of AA batteries, Topo USA software, maps on DVD, carry strap, and a blank 2GB SD card all included in the box.

With the display screen occupying the top half of the front panel and a set of pushbuttons the lower half the Earthmate fits well in one hand while being operated with the other hand.

The unit is relatively small in size and measures just 5.3-inches tall, 2.4-inches wide, and 1.5-inches thick. With a pair of AA batteries installed our PN-30 weighs in a svelte 7.0 ounces.

On our first cold start up the PN-30 took about 90 seconds to lock onto enough satellites to generate a good position fix. On subsequent warm starts the unit locked a 3-D position in under 15 seconds.


The DeLorme Earthmate PN-30 uses eight pushbuttons and an arrow keypad all located on the front panel to control all user inputs. The larger pushbuttons have letter labels on-key while the three small buttons use icons. The Find key uses a magnifying glass icon, the Mark key uses a push-pin, and Power key uses a red circle and line.

Each successive press of the Page button scrolls through another of the unit’s main pages.

The Satellites page provides GPS status, current time, GPS accuracy, elevation, battery status, and the constellation and signal strength of each satellite with color coded information.

delorme earthmate pn-30 portable marine gps handheld

A NOAA chart download displayed in the PN-30.

The Map page shows a very basic preloaded land map, cursor position in latitude/longitude as well as bearing and distance on the top line of the display. At the bottom of the map page up to four user selectable data fields can be displayed

Using the included TOPO USA software I loaded some of my local area NOAA charts into the unit. I did not load any of the included land maps. In my opinion, loading marine charts in this manner is tedious, time consuming, and not much fun.

I would instead opt for the purchase of a compatible Navionics chart card. Navionics chart data was easier to use and in every way superior to the NOAA chart downloads available from DeLorme. To use a Navionics chart card you’ll need firmware version 2.6 or newer installed in your PN-30.

delorme earthmate pn-30 portable marine gps handheld

The Compass page will also show a bearing needle when navigating to a waypoint.

Adding either the NOAA charts or a Navionics chart card to your unit will add to the cost.

The top two-thirds of the Compass page has a well-marked compass rose that shows the bearing to a waypoint when one is selected for navigation. Data boxes on this page add more info and are user selectable for format and source data.

The Trip Info page can be set to show either three or eight data user selectable fields.

Shutting the PN-30 off is a two-step process that requires a press of the Power button followed by a press of the Enter key.

Waypoints and Routes

delorme earthmate pn-30 portable marine gps handheld

From the Waypoint page you can change the symbol, name, coordinates, or add a comment. Make sure you hit Enter when done to save.

To create a present position waypoint or waypoint at the cursor you’d simply give a press to the push-pin icon labeled Mark button.

Doing so creates the waypoint and brings a waypoint edit screen into view. Here you can save the point or change the name, symbol, coordinates, and add a comment.

Be sure to press the Enter key with Save selected to store the waypoint in memory.

To build a route you’d press the Menu button then select Route from the Map Menu. Once there you’d follow the onscreen prompts to add points from the waypoint list or directly by placing the cursor on the chart.

The DeLorme Earthmate PN-30 will store up to 1000 waypoints and 50 routes.

Display Screen

The Delorme Earthmate PN-30 has a 2.2-inch color TFT display screen that utilizes about half the unit’s front panel space. It serves up smooth curved lines and fine map details with its 220 x 176 pixel resolution.

The display screen backlight is turned on to a preset level and for a predetermined time by pressing any key. To change these presets you’d go through a couple menu pages to reach the display menu. Here you can set the backlight level, desired on time, and choose a color scheme.

With the backlight set to maximum, I found the display to be bright and clearly readable even in direct sunlight, very little dimming occurred when I put on polarized sunglasses. I am going to rate the DeLorme Earthmate PN-30 display screen excellent for daylight viewability.

The screen is clear and readable in low light and darkness and earned another excellent rating here. The only nighttime operational issue noted was the lack the pushbutton backlighting.

Odds and Ends

delorme earthmate pn-30 portable marine gps handheld

The Sun and Moon page is one of several additional marine information page available.

This DeLorme handheld marine GPS has a number of special marine information pages. Pressing the Menu button from the map page takes you to a menu where you will be able to choose from a Sun/Moon, Tide, or Hunt/Fish page to add to your day on the water.

Battery compartment access, located on the case back, is gained by backing out two stainless steel tab lock screws and then removing the protective cover. In addition to the AA battery tray you’ll find the SD card slot in the bottom of this compartment.

A proprietary USB connection is also located in the back.

This DeLorme portable GPS is rated waterproof to IPX7 standards, meaning it can be submerged to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes without suffering any damage.

It passed both our dunk test and drop test with no problem.

The unit carries a 1-year warranty.

Final Thoughts

The DeLorme Earthmate PN-30 has a fair amount of marine specific data for boaters as it comes from the factory. With its 32-channel high-sensitivity WAAS enabled GPS receiver, high-resolution color display screen, and easy to use software I liked this machine. However adding a Navionics chart card really brings this unit into its own as a marine handheld GPS unit.

Buy this DeLorme handheld GPS here.