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Author Topic:   Navionics vs Bluechart
saumon posted 06-16-2013 02:56 PM ET (US)   Profile for saumon   Send Email to saumon  
Hi. I've always had Garmin charplotters in the past and liked their Bluechart maps but my new to me 1991 Outrage 17 came with 2 GPS/SONAR combos, a slightly older Lowrance LMS-522c and a newer Humminbird 598ci HD SI, so I'm pretty stuck with Navionics.

Boating mainly the St. Lawrence seaway around Montreal, until 10 years ago, I used the paper charts from the Canadian Hydrographic Service and, when I switched to the Bluecharts, I saw no difference.

Last spring, I got a Navionics Gold for my new units and I'm really disapointed by the lack of détails of their maps. I played a lot with them, making sure I was on the "most détails" setting but they're still lacking of precision. Really, being based on the same data from the Canadian Hydrographic Service, I can't understand why the Navionics weren't more precise, not even close to the paper charts.

If you run in the channels, they're okay, but for some high speed 5-MPH trolling in shallows shoals 4 to -feet, ouside the channels, they're not very useful.

Here's an example of a place I fish on Google Maps:

http://maps.google.ca/maps?hl=fr&ll=45.40413,-73.977256&spn=0. 008286,0.01929&t=h&z=16

And here's the comparision of the view on the chartplotters for the same area, both on Navionics and on Bluechart:

http://www.myfishingpictures.com/data/500/Navionics_vs_Bluechart.jpg

Now I think of selling my 2 units, the Lowrance LMS-522c and the Humminbird 598ci HD SI, and getting a Garmin 7" GPS/Sounder like the GPSMAP 720s or 721xs...

bluewaterpirate posted 06-17-2013 08:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for bluewaterpirate  Send Email to bluewaterpirate     
I agree with you ..... I use Navionics Platinum + charts on my Simrad NSS8 and have been disappointed with them. Garmin G2 Vision charst are easier to use and are much more intigrated with the functionalities of the Garmin units than Navionics is with the Navico products. That is the primary benefit in using Garmin charts is they support only Garmin products and not many vendors as does Navionics.

Tom

saumon posted 06-19-2013 06:42 AM ET (US)     Profile for saumon  Send Email to saumon     
As I do not like the Navionics traditional charts, their newer SonarCharts look really promising. It's an added layer where maps are enhanced by submitted sonar logs from community users: http://www.navionics.com/en/news/sonarchartstm-live-webapp

Too bad it isn't available for Canada but, to have an idea, zoom in anywhere in the US map at or below the 500m scale, the details are incredible!

It isn't too hard to picture this as the future of mapping, where charplotter maps will be continuously updated, either by the linked echosounder in the same boat or by the data provided by other users, via an internet connection.

jimh posted 06-19-2013 08:24 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I think that BlueCharts are the house brand for GARMIN. GARMIN seems to prefer to sell both the device and the data it will use in a bundle, making a profit on both . Navionics is a chart publisher. I think they do not make any electronics. They sell their charts. They must have deals in place with manufacturers to cooperate in the decryption of the charts on various chart plotters. I don't know who pays who in those deals.

The electronic charts are an enormous value-added for a chart plotter. If GARMIN is making better charts, that is a strong incentive to buy a GARMIN device.

Peter posted 06-28-2013 08:43 AM ET (US)     Profile for Peter  Send Email to Peter     
In the decision making process for a significant electronics upgrade this year, not only did I like the Garmin user interface better, I also liked the Bluechart chart presentation better than the presentation provided by the Navionics chart data used on the Simrad or Raymarine. I just found the Garmin chart easier to read.
richnavionics posted 07-01-2013 08:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for richnavionics  Send Email to richnavionics     
I would like to introduce myself. My name is Rich Lauer and I am the Northeast US and Canada Sales Manager. Please feel free to post anything here or to email me at rlauer@navionics.com for a quick response.
As per this discussion, I can provide screen shots of what Navionics offers versus Garmin's Bluechart if needed.
What Navionics does offer that no one else can are two items:
Freshest Data - We update our charts on a daily basis, not twice a year. When you purchase a Navionics chart, you get one free year of daily updates.
SonarCharts - Yes, this is coming to Canada, hopefully this fall. Boaters can record their sonar logs, upload the data to Navionics, then when they update their Platinum, Navionics+ or NavionicsUpdates charts, they will see the most up-to-date charts available for that area. This crowd-sourced data will help improve charts world-wide to provide the safest of passages to everyone. You can go onto Navionics.com to see more info on this. Thanks. Rich
jimh posted 07-01-2013 09:16 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I have a Lowrance HDS chart plotter. The HDS has the Lowrance-branded INSIGHT charts and I also have a NAVIONICS chart memory card for the Great Lakes, marked "West Great Lakes 900P+", which I think is the Platinum Plus edition. For the areas that are covered on the Navionics card, I prefer the Navionics cartography to the Insight cartography. The Insight chart does not really cover the Canadian water of the Great Lakes. The Navionics cartography does a good job in the Canadian waters of Lake Huron, Lake Michigan, and Lake Superior, including Georgian Bay.
Hoosier posted 07-02-2013 07:59 AM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I have both the Navionics Eastern Great Lakes and the Great Lakes and Maritimes. I also have the Great Lakes Fish 'N' Chip which has depth contour lines for all the Lakes. When I compare the Navionics data to the official CHO paper charts I can't find a difference. It looks like Navionics scanned/digitized the data provided by the CHO, which makes sense, they can't go out a survey the Lakes themselves. What is unique is the Fish 'N' Chip which has the bathymetric contours to a very high resolution. Unfortunately it does not include the NAVAIDS, if it did, it would be the best chart chip for the Lakes.
jimh posted 07-02-2013 08:54 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
My Navionics chip presents an option for Fish-n-Chip. I really have no idea what that does. It seems to add depth contour lines.

Also, with the Navionics chart the user can customize the presentation, adding or deleted many features that can be displayed. Before selling short the Navionics charts, make sure you have not accidently turned off some chart layer of features.

Hoosier posted 07-02-2013 05:04 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
I don't think my vintate Fish 'N' Chip has NAVAIDS. It does have the Small Craft Route, I used the chip during the Georgian Bay Cruise. It was pretty amazing to see the depth contours in some of those narrow channels.
swist posted 07-03-2013 08:33 AM ET (US)     Profile for swist  Send Email to swist     
The Fish 'N' Chip doesn't navigate you to the nearest dock-in restaurant??
jcush87 posted 07-04-2013 03:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for jcush87  Send Email to jcush87     
Richnavionics,
I would really like to see how the satellite coverage in the bahamian out islands, particularly Andros. I find that a satellite image is far more useful for navigating clear shallow water than a chart is. Can you post a screenshot of an area like this, or tell me where i can view this coverage?
I have seen comparison photos between the g2 vision card and the platinum+ cards and the satellite photos seem to be MUCH better in the navionics offerings. Thanks!
saumon posted 08-19-2013 07:23 PM ET (US)     Profile for saumon  Send Email to saumon     
Update: I finally ordered a Garmin GPSMAP 740s. With the newer series being out, there's really great deals going on now. I've been able to get a Garmin GPSMAP 740s with an AIRMAR P66 transducer, shipped to Canada, for under $1000.

As soon as I receive and install it, I'll put the Lowrance LMS-522c and the Humminbird 798ci HD SI for sale...

silentpardner posted 08-20-2013 02:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for silentpardner  Send Email to silentpardner     
When I purchased my Whaler 27 FC recently, it was equipped with 2 working Lowrance chartplotters using Navionics chips. Both of these Lowrance units were models that were made obsolete after the HDS series of chartplotters were released by Lowrance. The problem I had with the units was that Navionics stopped making chips in the computer language that is required for these older Lowrance units, and I was in need of charts for the Gulf Of Mexico and the charts in the Lowrance units were only for the Great Lakes region. After contacting Navionics regarding this problem, it was made clear to me by them that they were not interested in supplying me the needed chips for my area, and frankly, they were very unsympathetic to my problem. Lowrance treated me in the same way in discussions with them by phone.

The Navionics charts on the Lowrance units did not appear to be easy to use at all in comparison with Garmin. The previous owner actually had to keep a Lowrance operators manual at the helm for reference while using the units to be able to recall all the steps necessary to complete even the simplest operations manageable. I felt that it would be way to time-consuming to operate these units, s I prefer to spend my time fishing when on my boats, so I have replaced this obsolete system in it's entirety on the boat with Garmin electronics. Lowrance does not make an autopilot system that I am aware of, and I have not heard of a Lowrance radar either. All of these components, as well as a VHF radio and a satellite weather module are available with Garmin, and they all work together with the chartplotter to display in overlay on the chart screens all the data simultaneously. MUCH easier interface for real use.

I will never do any business with Lowrance after discussing this issue I had with the needed chips for the Gulf Of Mexico on their chartplotters. These Lowrance chartplotters were purchased through West Marine by the previous owner in 2007, but they are no longer supported in 2013! They are, of course, less expensive than anything comparable in Garmin's line, but the fact that Lowrance and Navionics both abandoned their previous customers still using their products within 6 years of them being "state of the art" leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I do have a Navionics chartplotter app on my phone in case of emergency, but the only reason I have done this business with them is that they are the only supplier of this technology that I can find. I also purchased this BEFORE I found out that they were apparently in collusion with Lowrance to force customers to buy new electronics on a cyclical basis.

By the way, if any of you want to buy Lowrance units for the Great Lakes region, I have a couple of really nice ones for sale as a result of my recent education in this brand. Good luck getting them serviced if they ever need it, or getting charts from Navionics for them. Also, good luck when Lowrance inevitably changes to a new line of chartplotters and makes all your HDS units obsolete, requiring you to purchase a complete set of the new stuff they issue.

Due primarily to these

jimh posted 08-20-2013 04:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
In the electronics world, something made in 2007 is six-years-old by calendar in 2013, but it is much older in terms of generations of new electronic devices available from which a marine navigation instrument could be manufactured. The product cycle of marine electronics is about one year or less. When I say "product cycle" I am not just talking about something done annually to change an old product into a new product by changing the model year designator or changing the colors or changing the graphics or logotypes. I am talking about revisions of the product which provide significant performance improvements, such as faster processor speed, more processor memory, more persistent memory, larger displays, faster display chips, brighter displays, and other significant hardware changes.

It is just a fact of modern life that you cannot get electronic devices repaired. The cost to diagnose a malfunction, locate the defect, repair the defect, reassemble and test the unit is just too great a percentage of the retail price of a new unit to make the repair attractive.

My understanding is that Lowrance offers very attractive upgrade offers for owners of their devices which fail after the warranty period, usually offering the owner the chance to buy a new, latest model, better, faster device for a significant discount off the new MSRP by trading-in his older device.

The notion that a six-year-old product is no longer being actively supported with upgrades and feature enhancements is quite understandable. The short product cycle time tends to require that manufacturers put all their support into the current products, rather than into one they sold six years ago.

I don't understand how there can be a claim of greater ease of use of chart data. I know many people who buy Garmin devices like to claim that they are easier to use, but I don't recall ever seeing any sort of independent testing that confirmed this. There is a learning curve to using any electronic device. Once you learn to use it, it really does not matter if the learning curve was less steep on another device. You know how to use it. I know how to use my Lowrance chart plotter. Am I to expect that I will now know how to use a Garmin chart plotter? Or vice versa? For me, right now, Lowrance chart plotters are easier to use. That is because I know how to use them.

As for some sort of collusion among manufacturers to force people to upgrade to new products, that is just bunk. The old product, if still working, will work just like it did when it was new. The old chart data is still working.

Most chart publishers offer some sort of trade-in for upgrades to newer charts. I don't know what the policy of Navionics might be, but I would be surprised to learn they offer no upgrade path. Of course, there might be a fee. If the criterion is free-upgrade path, you better invest in NOAA charts. They are the only electronic charts I know that offer free upgrades. I don't think Garmin gives out free upgrades.

I don't know what Garmin's repair policy is for six-year-old devices. Garmin tends to have longer product cycles, so something from six years ago might only be one or two product cycles out of date.

saumon posted 08-20-2013 04:45 PM ET (US)     Profile for saumon  Send Email to saumon     
quote:
I don't understand how there can be a claim of greater ease of use of chart data. I know many people who buy Garmin devices like to claim that they are easier to use, but I don't recall ever seeing any sort of independent testing that confirmed this. There is a learning curve to using any electronic device. Once you learn to use it, it really does not matter if the learning curve was less steep on another device.

Not exactly true. One device can have a more intuitive interface (more logically sorted, less steps, sub-menus, etc.) than another, thus being "easier" to use. Add to that a great quality of materials and you get a product that people like.

A prime example, still in the electronics business, is Apple; they builtd their reputation, and company, on their user-friendly robust products.

silentpardner posted 08-20-2013 07:35 PM ET (US)     Profile for silentpardner  Send Email to silentpardner     
quote:
In the electronics world, something made in 2007 is six-years-old by calendar in 2013, but it is much older in terms of generations of new electronic devices available from which a marine navigation instrument could be manufactured. The product cycle of marine electronics is about one year or less. When I say "product cycle" I am not just talking about something done annually to change an old product into a new product by changing the model year designator or changing the colors or changing the graphics or logotypes. I am talking about revisions of the product which provide significant performance improvements, such as faster processor speed, more processor memory, more persistent memory, larger displays, faster display chips, brighter displays, and other significant hardware changes.

All I wanted to do was change from a Navionics chip for the Great Lakes region to a Navionics chip for the Gulf Of Mexico, Jimh. Same Lowrance units, just new Navionics CHART CHIP. What did I write exactly in my post that led you to believe I was in any way discussing the myriad of "revisions" you list above?

quote:
It is just a fact of modern life that you cannot get electronic devices repaired. The cost to diagnose a malfunction, locate the defect, repair the defect, reassemble and test the unit is just too great a percentage of the retail price of a new unit to make the repair attractive.

If I want a Garmin to be repaired, I simply send the unit to them and they repair it after giving me an estimate of the cost, no MATTER how old the unit is. I am sorry if you have had a different experience with Lowrance, but again, I did not have a need for any repairs from Lowrance in my case that was stated in the post you just picked to respond to, I only wanted to get a CHART CHIP for the units in order to make the Lowrance units USABLE in the GULF OF MEXICO.

quote:
My understanding is that Lowrance offers very attractive upgrade offers for owners of their devices which fail after the warranty period, usually offering the owner the chance to buy a new, latest model, better, faster device for a significant discount off the new MSRP by trading-in his older device.

Well, all I can say is that when I contacted customer service requesting a CHART CHIP FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO, or information about getting a CHART CHIP FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO, no mention was made of your "understanding". Perhaps you would be willing to intercede on the behalf of whoever the next owner of my Lowrance equipment becomes, I will pass your contact info to the purchaser if you like. I know I will not be in the market for ANY electronics in the forseeable future, I have already made my choice and purchases, believe me, Lowrance lost a LOT of business from me.

quote:
The notion that a six-year-old product is no longer being actively supported with upgrades and feature enhancements is quite understandable. The short product cycle time tends to require that manufacturers put all their support into the current products, rather than into one they sold six years ago.

I did not need an upgrade OR a feature enhancement. I simply needed a CHART CHIP FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO. Capiche?

quote:
I don't understand how there can be a claim of greater ease of use of chart data. I know many people who buy Garmin devices like to claim that they are easier to use, but I don't recall ever seeing any sort of independent testing that confirmed this. There is a learning curve to using any electronic device. Once you learn to use it, it really does not matter if the learning curve was less steep on another device. You know how to use it. I know how to use my Lowrance chart plotter. Am I to expect that I will now know how to use a Garmin chart plotter? Or vice versa? For me, right now, Lowrance chart plotters are easier to use. That is because I know how to use them.

You mean you ACTUALLY KNOW MANY PEOPLE WHO BUY GARMIN DEVICES, then CLAIM THEY ARE EASIER TO USE, but you think this does not qualify as INDEPENDENT TESTING? Surely you jest!
The previous owner of my boat, and the original owner of the Lowrance chartplotters that I inherited with the boat, WAS STILL HAVING TO REFERENCE THE OPERATOR MANUAL TO OPERATE THESE CHARTPLOTTERS 6 YEARS AFTER HIS PURCHASE.

From my post:

quote:
The previous owner actually had to keep a Lowrance operators manual at the helm for reference while using the units to be able to recall all the steps necessary to complete even the simplest operations manageable.

I was clear in my post you have seen fit to attack, or at least I certainly THOUGHT I was, that this was a fact. I did not mean anything other than what I wrote here, I did not mean to construe that this fellow was you, and I don't think the previous owner was you. I simply wrote about the situation the previous owner of my boat found himself in. I don't have 6 years to learn how to use my electronics, I want to catch some fish, that "learning curve" is way to "steep" for me.

quote:
As for some sort of collusion among manufacturers to force people to upgrade to new products, that is just bunk. The old product, if still working, will work just like it did when it was new. The old chart data is still working.

Really? In my case, clearly stated in my post, I needed a CHART CHIP FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO to replace the working CHART CHIP FOR THE GREAT LAKES that was in a working Lowrance unit that was, indeed, "working just like it did when it was new". Navionics made the chip I needed for the Lowrance unit when it was a new unit, but discontinued the production of ANY chart chip for the units as soon as the new Lowrance line came out. If you have a perfectly good chartplotter that you are unable to get a CHART CHIP for ANY region from ANY manufacturer due to the CHART CHIP manufacturer's decision to stop production, while at the same time producing chips for the new chartplotter line, would you not suspect "collusion"? {please note that the definition for collusion is perhaps more simply stated "working together"}
Also, please note that the topic to which I replied here for this thread is clearly a discussion about CHART CHIPS, but the 2 chips opposed cannot be interchanged between the units they are produced for. The only way to have a bluechart chip working on a chartplotter is to have a Garmin chartplotter. You cannot use a Navionics chip in a Garmin chartplotter. There is NO COLLUSION WITH ANY OUTSIDE MANUFACTURER OF CHART CHIPS with Garmin. This is definitely NOT the case with the Navionics chips, as they make chips for the rest of the chartplotters on the market, and by definition, MUST BE IN COLLUSION WITH THESE CHARTPLOTTER MANUFACTURERS in order to make a chip that will run on the software in these manufacturer's chartplotters. I am sure you know this is true. If a chartplotter manufacturer changes the operating system on a new line of chartplotters in a way that makes the last line of CHART CHIPS unable to work in these units, they will have to quickly work with the CHART CHIP manufacturer to make the new CHART CHIP. Since the CHART CHIP manufacturer now knows the last line of chartplotters will no longer be manufactured, why on earth would they continue to make CHART CHIPS that work on them? If there are no CHART CHIPS left for these units, what choice is left to the chartplotter user such as myself, other than scrapping the working units for a completely new chartplotter if I need to use the chartplotter in a different region?
How can you NOT see this as collusion between manufacturer's resulting in the owner of the old working units being forced to buy into the NEW LINE OF CHARTPLOTTERS if they need a different CHART CHIP for a different area than the one where the CHART CHIP was set up originally? I am beginning to think you simply wish to attack me personally because I have not decided to follow your choice of brand of chartplotter and chip manufacturer.

quote:
Most chart publishers offer some sort of trade-in for upgrades to newer charts. I don't know what the policy of Navionics might be, but I would be surprised to learn they offer no upgrade path. Of course, there might be a fee. If the criterion is free-upgrade path, you better invest in NOAA charts. They are the only electronic charts I know that offer free upgrades. I don't think Garmin gives out free upgrades.

I did not need any "upgrade" Jimh, I just needed a CHART CHIP covering the GULF OF MEXICO. No "upgrades" are required, ANY CHART CHIP FOR THE GULF OF MEXICO was all I needed OR requested. No manufacturer to my knowledge gives "free upgrades", including Navionics, past a certain date from purchase. If you get updates for "free" with a chip, you pay for them upfront when you buy the chip. The more "free" updates with a chart chip, the more you pay for it up front.

quote:
I don't know what Garmin's repair policy is for six-year-old devices. Garmin tends to have longer product cycles, so something from six years ago might only be one or two product cycles out of date.

Me either, Jimh, but I know there are 6 year old units working together in Garmin networks with other new Garmin chartplotters right here at the Gulf coast of Texas. Can't say the same for any of the Lowrance units. They might exist, I just haven't seen one. The same units being produced by Garmin in the high-end 6 years ago are still being produced today by Garmin.

jimh posted 08-21-2013 09:30 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If the six-year-old electronics cannot use the present day cartography, I think you have to blame Navionics, not Lowrance. This is somewhat like asking to get a new version of an operating system on floppy disks because your old computer does not have a CD-ROM drive. It is likely that the newer charts contain much more information than the old charts. Older chart plotters may not be capable of displaying the chart information contained on newer electronic charts.

This business of making recreational marine electronic charts is not really regulated by any standards. In the commercial chart world, there are standards, and charts and chart plotters are made to meet the standards so there is compatibility. In the non-commercial chart plotter and chart market, each chart publisher has their own proprietary format and chart plotter makers pick a format and make their devices work with them.

The most significant difference between Garmin and Lowrance in this case is that Garmin publishes their own charts. So it is easier for them to coordinate the changes in the chart data format with their legacy devices. On the other hand, if you go with a Garmin you are stuck with only the Garmin charts. Now in the USA that is a good option. I don't know how it works out for other places. I don't know for a fact that a six-year-old Garmin would be able to use the latest charts from Garmin. I don't know for a fact that Garmin continues to update and revise their charts for six-year-old chart plotters to include all the most recent changes in navigation.

I don't see that it is Lowrance's fault that the chart publisher is not making charts that can be used with the six-year-old device. A possible source for charts for your region that will work might be to buy a used chart chip. A chart for your region that was published six years ago should still work in your six-year-old chart plotter.

Yes, it would be nice if there were always an upgrade path from the six-year-old device to the newest device at modest cost, but that just does not happen. I have an Apple computer from 2002 that is still working, but I cannot load onto it all the latest software. I have to run old software on it. It still works just like it did 11 years ago, and I use it as I did 11 years ago. I don't condemn Apple because in 11 years they made some very significant improvements in the hardware and software of their computers. And I don't expect to be able to take advantage of all of those improvements with my 11-year-old computer.

In any case, you are going to be a lot happier with 2013-epoch electronics on your boat than you would be with 2006-model-year electronics.

I do acknowledge that Lowrance and its parent NAVICO seem to be working on a very rapid product release cycle, and they frequently introduce improvements in their hardware which makes products they were selling just a year ago obsolete. I have an HDS-8 chart plotter, now known as HDS-8 Gen1, and it is obsolete in about two years. But it still works just as it did when I bought it. I don't know the situation on chart availability.

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