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Author Topic:   New Garmin Combination Sonar-Chart Plotters
bluewaterpirate posted 11-12-2012 08:31 AM ET (US)   Profile for bluewaterpirate   Send Email to bluewaterpirate  
Here [is information about new products from GARMIN] Tom
jimh posted 11-12-2012 08:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
GARMIN have announced two new series of marine combination devices with GNSS receivers, chart plotters, and SONARs. The most interesting features that immediately jump out are:

--the devices have a GNSS receiver that can use both the GPS and GLONASS systems. The update rate of the GNSS receiver is 10-Hz. The ability to use GLONASS satellites in a position solution should lead to the possibility of greater accuracy. The faster rate of position solutions should lead to a smoother track of position at low speed of movement;

--the devices have a SONAR that uses frequency modulated sweep techniques, often called chirp. GARMIN also refers to this as "spread spectrum" but that term is somewhat confusing. Spread spectrum usually refers to a frequency hopping technique often used to gain secure communication. In this case chirp refers to a particular technique of the general spread spectrum method called direct sequence spread spectrum. The use of these techniques in SONAR should result in improved sensitivity and resolution of the SONAR.

The new devices are organized in two series of product designators, the 500 and 700 series. The 500-series devices have 5-inch displays; the 700-series have 7-inch displays. Devices in either series with a model designator of "XS" include the chirp SONAR feature. A special transducer is required to use the chirp SONAR.

The devices are said to be of a new, sleek design. The user interface is provided on a touch screen. The devices are said to support wireless connectivity to unspecified tablets and smart phones.

These new devices also continue the trend that is growing in the industry for the supplier of the navigation device to also require use of chart data or cartography supplied by them. The chart plotter in the device is provided with Garmin-branded chart data. In addition to the base map supplied, the devices can use the Garmin-brand BlueChart g2 Vision cartography, which is supplied on a micro-SD chip.

The devices are just announced now, and they will not be available until the first quarter of 2013. Pre-announcement of devices by several months is a typical technique in marketing which hopes to delay purchase decisions that might favor existing competitors' devices until the new product is actually available.

jimh posted 11-12-2012 09:11 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The pricing of these new units seems rather impressive. The top-model is the GPSMAP 741xs, and its suggested retail price is only $1700. This seems like an amazingly competitive price point. The required specialized SONAR transducer is not included, but that is to be expected.

GARMIN appears to have jumped ahead in several respects:

--GNSS receiver

--very high rate of update (10-Hz compared to 1-Hz or 2-Hz)

--advanced SONAR techniques with chirp

--wireless interface to tablets and smartphones

jimh posted 11-12-2012 09:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The specifications currently listed for the 700-series have bad information for the display size. The listing seems to give the dimensions of the 500-series devices. We'll have to wait for GARMIN to fix this error to learn more about the display size. I am curious about the pixel resolution.
dfmcintyre posted 11-12-2012 09:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for dfmcintyre  Send Email to dfmcintyre     
Jim--Interesting. If you were in my position; i.e. ready to re-equip my console, would you go Garmin or Lowrance for the side scan?

Regards - Don

jimh posted 11-13-2012 09:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Don--I'd wait until Spring 2013 to decide! You never know what else might be announced. I don't think GARMIN has a side scan SONAR. The chirp SONAR is probably most interesting for deeper water use. Also, I like to see these devices in person and have a few minutes of hands-on time to get a feel for them. When these new GARMIN 700-series are in the stores it will be very interesting to test them, particularly the interface to the tablets and smart phones.
jimh posted 11-15-2012 08:44 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
More about the SONAR capabilities of the new units:

GARMIN has provided an option for a chirp SONAR, and this seems amazing. It was just two years ago it seemed like chirp was cutting edge and required an external device that cost as much as these combination units. That chirp has been miniaturized and made so inexpensive this fast is quite amazing. However, the chirp SONAR will need a specialized transducer with the appropriate broad frequency response and low-Q. Those transducers are still very expensive. The typical AIRMAR transducer that would be used for chirp is about $1,000. The electronics may have been reduced in size and cost, but the transducers for chirp SONAR are still large and expensive.

GARMIN also calls the basic SONAR capability of these new units as HD-ID SONAR. This marketing acronym apparently means high-definition identification. GARMIN explains that the receiver in the SONAR has an improved dynamic range compared to their prior models. GARMIN also refers to the HD-ID as having some sort of "target tracking" but fails to elaborate on this feature. See

for some further commentary from GARMIN about HD-ID SONAR.

In general there has been a conventional wisdom that said the prior GARMIN units were excellent chart plotters and only middling fish finders. Perhaps the branding of HD-ID is a reflection of GARMIN trying to improve their standard SONAR performance with a high-definition branding. In any case, for a compact, reasonably priced, combination device, the new Series-500 and Series 700 units would appear to be more competitive with other brands whose devices are known as being good SONAR or fish finder devices.

Peter posted 11-15-2012 09:48 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
I've been in the market for a new chart plotter for my new-to-me boat. I have spent considerable time on my former Whaler using the Garmin 42XX series, and playing with the Simrad NSS and Raymarine C and E series offerings available at the local large national marine retailer. Unfortunately they don't have the new Lowrance HDS Touch touch screen unit on display to play with. The large marine retailer seemingly has a strong alliance with Garmin as they almost always try to steer me in that direction. I prefer Garmin's NOAA chart presentation so if everything else were equal, I would go with a Garmin. However, everything else is not equal.

To remain competitive with Navico (Simrad and Lowrance) and Raymarine offerings, I think Garmin will have to make make a unit like the old or new 700 series in a screen size larger than 7 inches. A 10 inch size screen or a 12 inch size that fits into the footprint that their current 4210 GPSMAP product fits would be ideal for me.

Garmin's current offerings in the greater than 7 inch display size are pricey and the competitions' offerings show that the Garmin designs (although still pretty good) are dated (no WiFi capability, no built-in GPS receiver or sonar).

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