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Author Topic:   General Opinion of GARMIN SONAR/GPS/CHARTPLOTTERs
mbking1 posted 07-30-2006 09:40 AM ET (US)   Profile for mbking1   Send Email to mbking1  
Hello. Give me any opinions on the latest and greatest Garmin sounders/GPS. Looking for a starting point on my research. Thanks!
JayR posted 07-30-2006 11:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for JayR  Send Email to JayR     
Very disappointing they are not on the NMEA 2000 bandwagon.
I've always used their products but it looks as though I'll now have to opt for a Lowrance or Raymarine unit.

If NMEA 2000 is the boating future, they'll be stuck in the past

Whaler_bob posted 07-30-2006 11:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whaler_bob    
I have the 178C.
GPS is excellent.
Fishfinder/sounder gets a 5 out 10 rating.
I can post in more detail later if you'd like... me and the kids are going tubing in the 13'now!
glen e posted 07-30-2006 01:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     

easliy installed/configured
marine network updates itself using "marine updater" system
easiest to use
charts are sufficient
a great price/value realtionship
XM weather is a great feature
tech support both email and phone is great

reflective coating is delicate - needs a screen film
other competitors have brighter, more deatiled displays,IMO
better fishfinders availabile

I have the full network with two displays and would buy again....

a small thing, but I had a Garmin ballcap that my dog tore up - called to order another and they said no problem we'll send you a couple it's like that for all updates, dust covers or antyhing else I have called for....

mbking1 posted 07-30-2006 05:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for mbking1  Send Email to mbking1     
Any specific model suggestions? Neeeds to very visible in direct sunlight etc. Thanks everyone!
glen e posted 07-30-2006 05:18 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
the model depends on the space and complexity you require - what are your needs? Just GPS? GPS and FF combo? Weather? Radar? or all of the above. On of my favorite models is the 3210C...
see them all at
mbking1 posted 07-30-2006 06:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for mbking1  Send Email to mbking1     
Glen E

Thanks for your reply. I just came off the Garmin site and are more confused than ever. I kind of like the models that are compatable with the bluechart g2 chips. Just looked at one that says has entire US loaded. Then they show me chips for areas that cost $214 each.

I will be running on the St.John's River in Florida and will need detailed info of the small streams etc off the main river..
Was just looking at the 498's all confusing to me


glen e posted 07-30-2006 06:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
understood - the new units come with the whole US loaded - the older models require a chip. It depends on what you need - keep reading the website - and other's will come along here and help...
bluewaterpirate posted 07-30-2006 07:03 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
Just fishing upgrading the electronics on my Ventura 210. Went with the Garmin 2206 CP. I like the functionality and ease of use. I don't use their FF chose the Furuno 620. To finish it up added an ICOM 504 VHF. All units talk via NMEA connectivity.

The 2206 is AIS capable (Iout of the box)via high speed NMEA 0183. sitebuilderpictures/garm2206icom504.jpg


jimh posted 07-31-2006 08:02 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
You need to be more specific about:

--price range
--region for use

gturner posted 07-31-2006 09:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for gturner  Send Email to gturner     
JayR, (or somebody), what is NMEA 2000 all about? I'm seeing it for the first time on this forum. Guess I haven't had my ear to the ground lately.
Chuck Tribolet posted 07-31-2006 10:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
The old NMEA was basically a computer serial port, not very
fast, not very suitable for more than two devices (you could
have extra listeners).

NMEA 2000 is based on CAN bus, which is used in recent cars.
It's a lot faster, and supports multiple devices.


davej14 posted 07-31-2006 11:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
You should also be aware that the two NMEA standards (0183 and 2000) do not talk directly to each other. There are interface devices out there but they are costly and complicated to program.

If you are setting up a new system go with NMEA2000 devices because that is the future. If you are adding to an existing NMEA0183 system then I would just add a compatible device or even better, one with both interfaces built into it.

mbking1 posted 07-31-2006 11:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for mbking1  Send Email to mbking1     


I am looking at sub $1000
St.John's River Florida..appx 120 miles long
mounted on a 2004 150 sport

Looking for as much detail of side streams and lakes to explore. I have heard very good things about the bluechart g2 charts.

Garmin says all of US is loaded into the new units. I am confused because they also have chips available at appx $200 each. If it is loaded, is it in lessor detail that the chipset? Can't determine which to choose.


Whaler_bob posted 07-31-2006 11:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whaler_bob    
Garmin says all of US is loaded into the new units. I am confused because they also have chips available at appx $200 each. If it is loaded, is it in lessor detail that the chipset?... mbking1

The built in basic US chart shows almost no details and is almost uselss for local waterways. It's just a basic outline of the shoreline, no nav aids, water depths, notes, etc.... you need to get the bluechart chip for your area.
bluewaterpirate posted 07-31-2006 12:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
I'm using the G2 Charts that came loaded on my 2206 and 3205. They have the same features as the Blue Chart do. I can put my 376c (Bluechart format) next to either unit and there is no difference in regards to chart detail. The detail is there for both inshore and offshore. Here are some pictures ...... sitebuilderpictures/2206.4.jpg sitebuilderpictures/2206.1.jpg

And yes you can by more detail bottom contour charts in the G2 format if you so desire. That is the same as for the older Bluechart formats.

Cheers .......


Robob2003 posted 07-31-2006 05:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for Robob2003  Send Email to Robob2003     
glen e

A 3210c is more suited to my 42 Hatteras than my Sakonnet:-)

I already have a Humminbird bottom machine/fishfinder on the Sakonnet and am looking seriously at a Garmin 172c to replace a Magellan Meridian handheld.

Bob on Tampa Bay

boatdryver posted 07-31-2006 08:52 PM ET (US)     Profile for boatdryver  Send Email to boatdryver     
I just bought a Garmin 498. It is one of the models with preloaded detail charts for the coastal US.

It is easily viewed in direct sunlight.

You can go to your local store (West Marine?) if they have a unit on display and determine if the detail is adequate for your use.

In my case, for example, the detail extends 100 miles inland from the Golden Gate to Sacramento through the entire Califorina Delta. I have not bought any separate cartridges.

Mine cost $850 online including a dual frequency transducer. Others have paid less. West Marine wants over $1000 with a transducer and my local store would not price match..


Whaler_bob posted 07-31-2006 10:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Whaler_bob    
Here's two shots of the Garmin 178C....
One with the BuleChart chip in, and another of the same area- without the Bluechart chip plugged in:
mbking1 posted 08-01-2006 08:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for mbking1  Send Email to mbking1     
Whaler Bob

Thank you for posting the two images. Does anyone know if there is any difference between the regular bluechart chips and the new g2 versions?


Robob2003 posted 08-01-2006 09:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for Robob2003  Send Email to Robob2003     
I hope this turns out right:-)


Bob on Tampa Bay

Robob2003 posted 08-01-2006 09:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for Robob2003  Send Email to Robob2003

Let's try that again.

Bob on Tampa Bay

bluewaterpirate posted 08-01-2006 09:58 AM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
Here are some better pictures of the G2 format in action .......

The G2 Charts come preloaded in the following Garmin models: 492/498/2206/2210/3205/06/10. The only thing u gain by buying an addition G2 Chart series is a growing worldwide database of high-quality photos of harbors, ports, marinas and coastal features. The cartography is the same. sitebuilderpictures/220612.jpg sitebuilderpictures/220613.jpg sitebuilderpictures/220614.jpg


boatdryver posted 08-01-2006 04:51 PM ET (US)     Profile for boatdryver  Send Email to boatdryver     
G2 charts have tides and currents. I don't know if the previous version does.
Moe posted 08-01-2006 10:10 PM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
They do... plus services at marinas, etc.


mbking1 posted 08-01-2006 10:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for mbking1  Send Email to mbking1     
Im baaaack. I think I have my choice narrowed down to the Garmin 498C. Not sure on the additional $200 chip that shows photos of landmarks and marinas.

I am going to look at a live unit at the local marine store. If I buy, I will most likely go to an established GPS seller on the net.

I am seeing good sized price differences, free overnight shipping, and sales tax savings. Any suggestions will be welcome. Thanks everyone

mbking1 posted 08-02-2006 08:52 AM ET (US)     Profile for mbking1  Send Email to mbking1     
Found the best prices so far on


glen e posted 08-02-2006 10:36 AM ET (US)     Profile for glen e  Send Email to glen e     
I have the G2 charts and the extra chip that gives you photos. I would only do it if you are going to make the big loop or are voyaging in virgin territory (for you). I boat the same areas and really don't need to see what the local bridge looks like. Maybe I'll find a bit of usage running to a few areas in the keys this winter but don't think so - have seen most of the stuff there too...
Whaler_bob posted 08-02-2006 11:07 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whaler_bob    
One last thing to consider....
Internal antenna vs. external antenna.
My 178C has the external antenna and acquires the WAAS signal within two minutes of startup. Once the other sats are online, my accuracy is good to 7' according to the GPS menu readout, even when I'm underway.

My brother in-law has the 172C (same GPS unit as the 178C but the 172C does not have the sounder built in). His 172C has the built in antenna. His boat has a bimini top. We can be out all day and his GPS will always say "searching for WAAS". The built in antenna can not receive the WAAS signal from NY. According to the GPS menu readout, the best he can get without the WAAS signal is 17' accuracy from the built in antenna.

It's not a big deal, but I thought I'd mention it.....

mbking1 posted 08-02-2006 04:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for mbking1  Send Email to mbking1     

I finally got an answer from them re the difference between buying a unit with G2 built in VS. adding a $200 chip. No difference in detail, or photos, or anything.

The difference is that the built in version will cease working once you leave the US borders. That is it...good to clear that up.

I ordered the 498C from
GPS DISCOUNT on the web. By far the best price overall once you factor in shipping options etc...


Moe posted 08-03-2006 08:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
FWIW, I'd read reports on theHullTruth about the internal antenna working fine under not only a bimini, but under a hard top as well. I can tell you the internal antenna in our 178C worked great (11-12 satellites and WAAS) not only under the biminis of our 150 Sport and sailboat, but worked equally as well down in the cabin, where I'd run it all night with the anchor drag alarm on while we slept. Now keep in mind we did anchor on the north side of a lake, where we had good exposure to the southern sky (the WAAS sat is fairly low on the horizon up here).


Whaler_bob posted 08-03-2006 11:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for Whaler_bob    
Looks like WAAS is on Galaxy-15 @ W133 now .
From NY G-15 is only 14.5 deg above the horizon . That's most likely why the built in antenna couldn't pick up WAAS... due to signal blockage by the cabin superstructure at that low look angle.
WT posted 08-09-2006 11:57 AM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     

Did you receive the 498C from I want to get a 498C and would like to know if you would recommend them as a vendor.



mbking1 posted 08-09-2006 09:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for mbking1  Send Email to mbking1     

Yes, miine came from them. They had the best price and very fast shipping. I really like it. Still have a bit of a learning curve. It really is rich in features..


Moe posted 08-10-2006 08:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for Moe  Send Email to Moe     
It's and I've made several purchases from them with good service.


swist posted 08-11-2006 03:01 PM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
There is some confusion in some of the above responses. The early Garmin units that took BlueChart chips also had a built in "base map" of the entire US. That came into play if you navigated into an area for which you didn;t have a BlueChart loaded. But as someone said, that built in base map is pretty useless as it has no detail at all.

The latest round of Garmin charplotters has essentially all the BlueChart chips for the whole US built in. The old "base map" is gone.

But there is a price to pay! Those of us who stay in one locale are getting zapped pretty good if we want the new units.

bluewaterpirate posted 08-11-2006 05:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
Actually I don't think your getting zapped at all.

Here are the facts.

A year and half ago I purchased a Garmin GPSMap 376c with the preloaded Bluechart base charts the XM weather/music feature included. The price was $928.00. To add the Map Source (MS) program with 2 chart licenses cost me another 127.00 plus $98.00 for a usb card reader and 64mb chart card. I had to add the MS program to get the more detailed Garmin Bluecharts for my area.

The total cost of that unit & accessories was $1153.00.

Today, you can buy Garmin GPSMap 486c with the preloaded G2 Chart package for the US, Alaska, & HI for $944.00. Where the added expense comes in is that Garmin chose to remove the XM weather/music feature from the standard package. That has to be purchased seperately for $209.00.

The total cost of the package is $1153.00.

The 486c is a great deal, in a much as you get a much more robust and useable G2 Chart package for your money than 376c Bluechart basemap.

To get that kind of detail on previous units was an added expense. Just my humble opinion.

Tightlines ........


mbking1 posted 08-11-2006 08:37 PM ET (US)     Profile for mbking1  Send Email to mbking1     
While we are on the subject.....(sort of)

Does anyone know of a good looking and functional sunshade arrangement for the color Garmin units. Although they are bright, The combination of bright sunlight and sunglasses washes out the screen a bit...

Any suggestions? Thanks


davej14 posted 08-11-2006 08:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for davej14  Send Email to davej14     
I mounted my GPS using a 1 1/2" ball RAM mount. It allows me total flexibility to position it for optimum viewing. I am very happy with the result.

I can't compete with bluewaterpirate's set up but it works for me ;-))

gturner posted 08-14-2006 08:23 AM ET (US)     Profile for gturner  Send Email to gturner     
Mark, if you want to chat about exploring the S. Johns, email me.

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