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Author Topic:   Garmin 440s v. 545s; Cartography v. Lowrance HDS-5; Auto-guidance
scottfarm posted 02-09-2009 07:43 PM ET (US)   Profile for scottfarm   Send Email to scottfarm  
Does the Garmin 440s have the same base maps as the Garmin 545s? I can't for the life of me see why [there is a] $400 difference in these two units. I am trying to decide [on a combination of GPS receiver, chart plotter, and SONAR] for my [17-foot center console].
jimh posted 02-09-2009 08:08 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Is the GARMIN literature about the 440s and 545s unclear about what digital cartography is included? Usually the sale literature makes clear precisely what digital cartography is included with the product.
bluewaterpirate posted 02-09-2009 08:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
BarryGreen posted 02-11-2009 08:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for BarryGreen  Send Email to BarryGreen     
The cost differential is due to a 1" increase in screen size (diagonally) plus an increase in screen resolution from 240x320 pixels for the 440 to 480x640 for the 545. Taken together they make quite a difference in viewability, but only you can decide if it's worth the $400.


jimh posted 02-11-2009 08:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If I understand the two previous replies, they are saying that there is no difference in the digital cartography which is included in the Garmin 440s and the digital cartography included in the Garmin 545s. Therefore, since there is no difference in the included digital cartography, it cannot be a factor in the price difference between the Garmin 440s and the Garmin 545s.
BarryGreen posted 02-12-2009 05:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for BarryGreen  Send Email to BarryGreen     
Correct, as long as they are both sold initially with cartography that is designated for the same region (for instance, coastal US).
Waccamaw Whaler posted 02-12-2009 11:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for Waccamaw Whaler  Send Email to Waccamaw Whaler     
I haven't been able to confirm this with anything that I found on the internet, but a salesman at one of the national boat parts chains told me that the 545S has the capability to plot a 'best' course from a point to final destination taking into consideration the water depth and possible obsticles. He told me less expensive models do not have this capability.

I never owned a chartplotter, and maybe all chartplotters work this way, but this is a feature that appeals to me.

scottfarm posted 02-13-2009 10:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for scottfarm  Send Email to scottfarm     
What about a Lowrance HDS 5? Has anyone had experience with this [combination] GPS [receiver, chart plotter, and SONAR] sounder? Is the cartography comparable to the Garmin 545. So far I am sold on the Garmin 545s, but there are so many variables it makes it confusing on which one gives you the most value for your dollar.
jimh posted 02-13-2009 10:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
scottfarm--Do not become alarmed at your confusion in attempting to determine which combination GPS receiver, chart plotter, and SONAR sounder being sold with a digital chart cartography bundle represent the absolute best value. I have been carefully studying this question for several years, and I have made very little progress toward resolution of the issue.

If you read my several reviews of moderately prices units which combine a GPS receiver, a chart plotter, a SONAR sounder, and digital chart cartography, I generally consider each of these areas separately. However, there is an important additional consideration which you should also include in your evaluation: the ability of the unit to interconnect with other devices such as your VHF Marine Band digital selective calling (DSC) radio and your automated identification system (AIS) receiver. These external receivers will need to connect to the GPS receiver and a chart plotter in order to exchange serial data. You should consider these capabilities in any buying decision.

Another aspect that may be of interest to you is the ability of the unit to record screen captures of sonar echograms and store them to removable memory media. This feature is not universal, and unfortunately it seems to be missing from many units that otherwise seem perfect.

Finally, the ability to perform off-line operations on a terminal or using a specialized software application for trip planning, creating routes, storing waypoints, and collecting and organizing data to be used on the boat is another area that should be given weight in any evaluation of a small boat navigation instrument system. You will find that capabilities in this realm vary from brand to brand and model to model. If you have interest in using off-line data, be sure to investigate the capabilities of each unit you are considering.

BarryGreen posted 02-15-2009 02:16 PM ET (US)     Profile for BarryGreen  Send Email to BarryGreen     
Waccamaw - What you are talking about in terms of automatically plotting the best(?) course from point to point is called the "autoguidance" feature. It is available on either the 440s and 545s, but only if you add Garmins Bluechart "g2 Vision" chip, which is not the same as the standard Bluechart g2 chip provided standard with these units. A "g2 Vision" chip usually runs in the $300-$400 range, and fits into the SD slot on the front of the 440/545 series Garmins.

Only slightly off the subject, do you REALLY want your electronics to plot a route FOR you?


bluewaterpirate posted 02-15-2009 02:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
You purchase G2 Vision Charts in the $220 - 250 range from BOE.


Waccamaw Whaler posted 02-15-2009 02:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Waccamaw Whaler  Send Email to Waccamaw Whaler     
BarryGreen thank you for that information. The salesman did not mention anything about a 2nd chip being required.

Yes, I would like to have the electronics plot a 'best' course for me. It doesn't mean I would have to follow it but I'm always willing to consider another 'openion' i.e., the electronics.

I know some large harbors can be very confusing with their markers and I have read about some markers being missing. The additional information would be helpful in situations like that.

I certainly wouldn't pay an extra $300 to $400 for the feature but it would be nice to have.

bluewaterpirate posted 02-15-2009 04:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
Auto Guidance Video ...

More G2 Vision Fucntioanlities .... video


Waccamaw Whaler posted 02-16-2009 01:47 AM ET (US)     Profile for Waccamaw Whaler  Send Email to Waccamaw Whaler     
Great demos, I now have a better understanding of some of the capabilities.


scottfarm posted 02-18-2009 05:53 PM ET (US)     Profile for scottfarm  Send Email to scottfarm     
Bluewaterpirate, you seem to know about these gps/sounders. If you had the choice would you pick the Lowrance HDS-5 with insight cartography(new-$735) or the Garmin 545s (Refurbished $697 with 1 year factory warranty. Is the Garmin 545s ok to use without purchasing the vision card. I am ready [to] buy one.
bluewaterpirate posted 02-18-2009 08:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
You do not need the G2 Vision Charts .... the G2 charts that come preloaded on the 545 are just fine. I don't a good feel the HDS 5 because never used one underway. It's a good unit. I'm a Garmin fan but I can truthfully say either way you go you can't go wrong.


Lil Whaler Lover posted 02-18-2009 08:24 PM ET (US)     Profile for Lil Whaler Lover  Send Email to Lil Whaler Lover     

If you are seriously into deep water fishing, then the new Lowrance HDS5 has one big advantage. It includes a Broadband sounder, and will give much better resolution for the fishfinder. I think that Garmin offered a Broadband sounder as an add-on last year for something $650.00 +/-. I sold one for a Garmin last year, and the customer stated that it was a "100 % improvement" in the fishfinder. It is included with the Lowrance. The Lowrance also has a new generation internal antenna that works much better and a high definition screen. Lowrance is a NAVICO company.

scottfarm posted 02-18-2009 08:50 PM ET (US)     Profile for scottfarm  Send Email to scottfarm     
I guess the Garmin 545s has a better chartplotter(better cartography) and the Lowrance has a better sounder.
Lil Whaler Lover posted 02-18-2009 09:17 PM ET (US)     Profile for Lil Whaler Lover  Send Email to Lil Whaler Lover     
The Lowrance has very good cartography as does the Garmin. Most people see the Garmin as the easiest unit to use.

Garmin has a great support service if you need service at a reasonable price. I do not yet know how Lowrance will compare to Garmin for service.

Bottom line you will not go wrong with either unit.

One other observation is that Garmin has almost absolute loyalty from its customers. Once a Garmin owner/user it seems like always a Grmin owner/user.

jimh posted 02-18-2009 11:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
GARMIN does seem to have moved into a very strong position in the marine navigation market. GARMIN has been very successful in other navigation markets like aircraft and automotive.

LOWRANCE has historically been a SONAR company, but they have been very innovative, particularly with NMEA-2000 support. They are now part of the NAVICO conglomerate of brands, and apparently this corporate merger situation has had some influence on their product support.

I have spent time looking at these devices, and I can't see a clear winner. I'd look at the new Raymarine A70HD series, too.

scottfarm posted 02-19-2009 08:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for scottfarm  Send Email to scottfarm     
I have an 10 year old Garmin 12 that was very easy to use and has put me on the spot every time. I can't tell you how many times I have dropped it in the boat, sometimes with water on the deck. Based on that experience I am leaning toward the Garmin.
Waccamaw Whaler posted 02-19-2009 06:56 PM ET (US)     Profile for Waccamaw Whaler  Send Email to Waccamaw Whaler     
I'm looking at both the Garmin 540S which has the 240 X 320 pixels and the 545S which has the 480 X 640 pixels.

How significant is the clarity between the two? Is it worth the difference in cost - in your openion?

The 440S is also a consideration but the screen appears as though it would be too small. Your openion please?


ConB posted 02-19-2009 07:46 PM ET (US)     Profile for ConB  Send Email to ConB     
I chose a 540s. For my use I did not want to pay for the extra pixels. I was able to go to a couple of marine stores and see both before I bought.

I have no vision card.

It was my intention to add XM weather, but I haven't yet.

I thought the 440s was to small for my old eyes.


Lil Whaler Lover posted 02-19-2009 08:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for Lil Whaler Lover  Send Email to Lil Whaler Lover     
Waccamaw Whaler, the 545S uses 4 times as many pixels to form the image you will be looking at. This will give you much clearer picture on your screen and will be easier to see in sunlight. It is much newer and better technology. If it fits your budget, get the better unit. You will not regret it.
jimh posted 02-20-2009 09:34 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In these modern marine navigation instruments, there is generally a very strong correlation between the price and the size of the color display, as well as the resolution of the color display. Whether or not the actual cost to manufacture the larger displays justify the premium price they command is hard to speculate, but in the retail of units that are otherwise almost identical, a larger display creates a very significant increase in its price.

In order for an electronic display to match the size, color, resolution, and detail of a printed marine chart, you have to spend a preposterous amount of money. On the other hand, you could never have a collection of charts like that contained in a few gigabytes of graphics stored in vector format that cost only $200.

Let's face it: we are now prisoners of our modern electronic chart displays.

scottfarm posted 02-21-2009 08:46 AM ET (US)     Profile for scottfarm  Send Email to scottfarm     
Well, I bought the Garmin 545s. Lil whaler lover was right. Once a garmin owner always a garmin man. I have a garmin 162 and a garmin 12 that are both over 10 years old, they still work flawlessly, and they both have been through hell on my montauk. Thanks for all the input.

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