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Author Topic:   Best value in basic chartplotters right now?
Christian K posted 09-14-2007 02:49 PM ET (US)   Profile for Christian K   Send Email to Christian K  
New (to me) Outrage 18 came with solid basic electronics:
VHF: Icom-302
Fish Finder: Lowrance x102C

Need chartplotter. Want basic unit for navigation on Hudson River/Long Island/etc. Would like to be able to record favorite fishing spots, but do not (think) that I want to buy a more expensive combo unit. Just want to buy solid value on non-cutting edge technology. Want decent color screen and charts.

What should I be looking at? Any reason not to keep fishfinder and GPS separate? What represents good value right now? Any obvious standouts? Want to buy something before the season is over. Thinking basic Garmin, but which one? Standard Horizon? Other brands? What model?

Have tried to search threads, but most of what I've come across is a little out of date re. currently available models. I am just researched out, so please point the way! If i've missed current thread, point there!

I have come to realize that many of the people here are every bit as crazy about research as I am, and I trust your judgement. Does not happen every day.

Thanks, Christian.

jimh posted 09-14-2007 04:19 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
From my perspective the first decision to make in a chart plotter selection process is the digital cartography. Once you pick a brand of cartography you will narrow your choice of electronic devices which can be used with them.

Basic chart plotters do not tend to offer "recording" capabilities, by which I mean the ability record and play back the screen display showing the route or passage of the vessel. That sort of capability is usually found only on more expensive and sophisticated units. If by "recording" you mean you want a GPS and chart plotter integration which can store a way point, then just about every GPS made for marine use can do this. Usually you can store more way points on the more expensive models, but even the most inexpensive units can store 50 or more way points.

I guess "basic" now means color, but there are sure a lot of nice monochrome display units out there that probably still work fine and would be much less expensive than a color display.

The marine electronics business now has a product cycle of about one year, so all you have to do to avoid "cutting edge" products is to get last year's model.

I have tried to find the best bargain unit myself a few times, but the process has never led to convergence.

Chuck Tribolet posted 09-14-2007 07:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for Chuck Tribolet  Send Email to Chuck Tribolet     
Even the basic chartplotters can record your track (where
you've been), AKA "trail of breadcrumbs".

I agree with Jim that monochorome is sufficient. I've got a
sevenish years old monochrome Garmin GPSMAP 162, and it works


Christian K posted 09-14-2007 11:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for Christian K  Send Email to Christian K     
Thanks. Will be more specific. Hope someone has specific answers, too!

Want color because it is much easier to read and even paper charts have color for this reason. Want to record waypoints. Want a decent system that has lots of maps. Want to buy now, so need to know what is a good choice for 09/14/07 if someone has been through this recently. Don't want to be sorry next week that I did not buy slightly different model that is clearly better and only $75.00 more expensive is better.

Have done 100 hours of research on other subjects over the last few weeks, and hope I can be spared shopping for electronics. Gelcoat repair, prop selection, canvas, and other issues more pressing and interesting.

Q: If you had to buy this weekend, what would you buy?
A: I would by a (manufacturer) (model number) because they can be had for ($XXX.XX). They are solid units, nice screens, and all you will need for the next few years.

Thanks, Christian.

WT posted 09-14-2007 11:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for WT  Send Email to WT     
If you want bang for your buck, look at the Garmin 498, which has been recently discontinued. Buy the transducer for the Garmin but don't install it, so you have a back up if your Lowrance breaks.

Good luck,


jimh posted 09-15-2007 12:36 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The digital cartography is the key to selection. It also makes comparisons difficult. Some devices include in their price a lot of chart data, and some include none. If you do all your boating in one area, why buy a device that has preloaded charts for the whole United States?

If I had to go buy something this weekend I would probably get too depressed because I could not decide if I had found the best possible solution and never make it to the store. Seriously. I have been trying to find the right chart plotter to buy, and it never converges on a single model. The decision tree gets so complex I give up.

HarryWhisman posted 09-15-2007 02:55 PM ET (US)     Profile for HarryWhisman  Send Email to HarryWhisman     
Boy I heard that!!

I've been agonizing over chartplotters for months now and I think I have convinced myself to go with black and white. I'll be in Portland in about a week and my plan is to stop by Rogers Marine Electronics and check out their electronic charts (They supposedly have mountains of them) and listen to what they have to say as to what the best deal would be on a monochrome plotter.

Henry posted 09-15-2007 06:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for Henry  Send Email to Henry     

I have been looking as well for awhile but have been hesitant to buy since even the cheaper models are not cheap. I have the same concerns as you and some of the others persons replying to your post.

For my $500 to $700 price range, these are the models I have been considering:

1. The Garmin 498

2. The Lowrance 525

3. Since I already have a fish finder I am also looking at the Standard Horizon CP 180i (which does not have a fish/depth finder but does have the option to add one).

Why don't you list the models you are considering?

gss036 posted 09-15-2007 09:07 PM ET (US)     Profile for gss036  Send Email to gss036     
I currently run a 176C Garmin GPS, really like it better than the newer 178C(?). I can move it around to friends boats,etc. It also uses 3 AA batteries instead of the really expensive rechargable battery and if in a bind I can always buy AA batteries.
I also still use my Impulse B&W Loran/depth finder combo unit, problem there is my eyesight, I cannot see the small numbers from the back of my 23WA. So! I bought a Humminbird B&W depth finer w/ BIG numbers. IT was GPS compatible and I lucked out and found an antenna on the internet for $100. So now I have a back up w/ployyer if needed. Lot of electronics in a small area, but you get use to it cluttering things up. Any more, I will not purposely go out in heavey fog, but do want to be able to get home if need be.
Casco Bay Outrage posted 09-15-2007 09:28 PM ET (US)     Profile for Casco Bay Outrage  Send Email to Casco Bay Outrage     
After going 80 miles, 40 in unfamiliar ocean today, get the biggest screen with the best resolution you can fit and afford.

My Garmin 172c has a 3 x 3 inch color screen. While doing 20 mph in choppy seas, you want to glance down and see the course, terrain, navigation items. I found I had to zoom out a fair amount to see the destination, then zoom back in to get the details.


where2 posted 09-16-2007 11:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for where2  Send Email to where2     
If I had to buy it again, I'd still get my Standard Horizon CP180i.

Look at the charts the high end chart plotter units are using, they're generally C-Map cartridges, not something put together by the device maker. My little $400 CP180i is running a C-Map cartridge.

User interface is excellent, user support is excellent, 3 year waterproof warranty is excellent. Instructions are easy to interpret, you can download them and read if you want to check it out before you visit a store...

If I want to add the depth sounder, it's an option.

I still have a Standard Horizon CP150 (b/w) which runs like a champ, despite being probably 9 years old now. (it was one of the first ones they built, and has always worked faithfully). I've been completely satisfied with the CP150, my father's CP160, and my CP180i.

I've used plenty of Garmins, but I still like the Standard more than the Garmins.

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