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Author Topic:   Review of GARMIN 441s or 520s Chart Plotter and SONAR
17 bodega posted 12-07-2011 10:41 PM ET (US)   Profile for 17 bodega   Send Email to 17 bodega  
Hello Whaler enthusiasts--I had the unfortunate circumstance of losing my GARMIN 178c chart plotter and SONAR to corrosion, neglect, and possibly old age or natural causes. The 18 pin connector on the rear of the unit lost a few pins to corrosion, and based on some advice on another boating forum, I attempted to repair the individual wires and pins on the unit to correct the problem. No luck. The unit would not power up despite my efforts in my garage with a 12-Volt power supply, lots of wire crimping tools, and a soldering iron. So I laid it to rest and I want to buy a new one. One lesson I learned is in the future I will use generous quantities of dielectric grease or other products to protect this vulnerable and important connector. Unfortunately most of these devices are supplied with a permanent molded plug on the back that cannot be modified or repaired by the owner.

I am looking at the GARMIN 441s or 520s. I need the one with pre-loaded coastal charts of the US due to my offshore fishing and diving hobbies. Can anyone give me reviews or help on the best unit from GARMIN to buy? I have found a brand new 441s for around $350. I recently bought a new transducer and they are all the same in these units so I don't need to buy that. Thanks for your thoughts.--Steve

17 bodega posted 12-08-2011 01:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for 17 bodega  Send Email to 17 bodega     
With regard to these GARMIN units, I would also like to get details on the "satellite enhanced" g2 charting that is preloaded in these units. I'm not terribly interested in the g2 "vision" cards (about $120) that apparently fully enhance your screen into a 3d experience. Good detialed marine charting is adequate for me.

If you have other similar GARMIN units, please share your reviews of the units. Thanks--Steve

Jefecinco posted 12-08-2011 10:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for Jefecinco  Send Email to Jefecinco     

The Garmin 740S with it's preloaded maps is an excellent GPS and a good sounder/fish finder. Installing an aftermarket transducer improves the sounder performance according to several reports.

It is a bit costly but with a seven inch color screen and touch screen operation it is a decent value.

Now that Lowrance has begun to market it's Gen 2 HDS GPS close out pricing may soon make some excellent Gen 1 devices available at bargain prices. Rebates are already available on the Gen 1 units.

I would consider the HDS 7. I've had excellent performance and technical support from both Garmin and Lowrance so I can recommend either brand.


ConB posted 12-08-2011 02:26 PM ET (US)     Profile for ConB  Send Email to ConB     
I own a Garmin 540s. No g2 card. Now discontinued.

My feeling is that the 400 series model is the screens are too small for an old guy to see on a bouncing boat.

You should look at the 541s. It is the last two numbers that indicate what charts are factory instated in this Garmin line.


17 bodega posted 12-08-2011 02:34 PM ET (US)     Profile for 17 bodega  Send Email to 17 bodega     
I hear you on the small screen factor Con. I did go ahead and buy the 441s, because at 45 years old, my vision perscription will allow me to see ok for a few years, until my income can justify an upgrade. The bummer is that the 178c that died on me had a larger screen. Go figure on that one.

I will post my review of the product when I use it for the first time. I would still like to hear from users about the g2 vision cards; are they the real deal or just unecessary fluff?--Steve

andrey320 posted 12-15-2011 09:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for andrey320  Send Email to andrey320     
I've had a 545S for a few months now and really like it. The pre-loaded maps are great, providing lots of detail - shipping lanes, protected marine areas, underwater wrecks, etc. Lots of neat features that are probably common to the garmin line. My review may be a bit too positive because my previous unit was a handheld Rino brand radio gps.... You can imagine how I feel about the screen size and resolution improvement. Slightly used for 300 bucks. The only accessories I got were a mount and cover for 20.
17 bodega posted 12-18-2011 03:12 PM ET (US)     Profile for 17 bodega  Send Email to 17 bodega     
I have installed and tested-out the GARMIN GPSMAP 441s. The dual core processor is much faster than the 178c, and the map looks about the same. I will have to learn the GARMIN GPSMAP 441s better and load the Vision chart with the 3D fish-eye views.

The GARMIN GPSMAP 441s also seems more sensitive to directional movements of the boat. During my test period in fairly calm seas in Bodega Bay, the map was twirling and spinning to the extent where focusing on position was difficult. Hopefully there will be a setting to adjust this. All in all, I'm reasonably happy with the GARMIN GPSMAP 441s.

[Changed topic--please start a new thread for the new topic. Thanks--jimh]

See you all on the water soon!


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