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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
Service Trouble: Lowrance and Garmin
|Author||Topic: Service Trouble: Lowrance and Garmin|
posted 06-02-2015 04:14 PM ET (US)
HOOSIER suggested I update the electronics on our 23-foot walk-around boat before changing engines. Listening to you guys talk about Lowrance and the non help I think maybe I need to pursue Garmin electronics. Does anyone out here have service troubles with Garmin like apparently is reported here about Lowrance? I just got through reading through the post about EP-85 and was not impressed.
posted 06-02-2015 04:50 PM ET (US)
I've had really good luck with Garmin and their tech support. Mostly I needed them to deal with my own ignorance or mistakes. They were friendly and always helpful. The only problem I ever had with a Garmin unit was my son's Etrex Legend Handheld GPS. They gladly replaced it out of warranty for free. Can't beat that. I own 2 Nuvis, an Oregon 400C and a Echomap DV50. Just sold the Legend and an old, really beat up GPSMAP 76 on ebay. Got good money, too.
As an added bonus almost all Garmin units have tide tables built in. Handy here in Florida. I think you only get tide tables with Lowrance if you add certain maps.
posted 06-03-2015 08:25 AM ET (US)
I'm assuming you're referring to this comment I made:
My main intention was not to endorse Lowrance but to suggest that you get the boat ready for today's digital data world where you have everything interconnected on a NMEA 2000 network. At the time the Lowrance Link-8 was one of the few DSC radios that had NMEA 2000 built in, most use NMEA 0183, which means a totally separate point-to-point connection.
posted 06-03-2015 01:58 PM ET (US)
I didn't think you were endorsing Lowrance, nor am I asking anyone to do so, just give me their options on what they like and why. Not sure why this is such a challenge or problem.
posted 06-03-2015 04:23 PM ET (US)
I have a Garmin chart plotter and depth sounder on my boat and my friend has a Lowrance of similar cost and features on his. Both have been very reliable and work very well.
However, both of us agree the Garmin is much more user friendly and has more features built in than the Lowrance. I'm sure you would be happy with either, but the Garmin would probably be easier to use right out of the box.
posted 06-04-2015 08:06 AM ET (US)
GARMIN owners seem to insist their electronic devices are easier to operate. I have never seen any sort of study that confirms this. I am sure that once people become familiar with their GARMIN devices they find them easy to operate. I have some Lowrance devices, and once I have become familiar with them I find them easy to operate.
I do not see any basis to proclaim that GARMIN devices are intrinsically easier to operate. All modern electronic devices are rather complex, and they must be studied in order to make full use of their many features. I do not support the notion that one ought to be able to operate, understand, and use a modern device without investing time in reading the owner's guide and actually using the device.
Other than a very frustrating exchange of email with Lowrance in attempting to resolve a problem, I have found the Lowrance service to be excellent. I have contacted them a number of times by telephone. I have never experienced long waits for my call to be answered. I have had good support from them. Based on the rather disappointing results of exchanging email with their support via an email interface on the Lowrance website, I recommend calling them via telephone. I believe their support system is better at telephone support than email support. Also, when on the telephone you can sometimes get a feel for the depth of knowledge the support person can offer.
I suspect that the level of support you get varies with the particular individual that answers your call or email. It cannot be perfectly uniform.
In choosing between the two brands, I believe Lowrance might provide better SONAR performance. I have not conducted any side-by-side testing, but that is my impression.
I don't own any GARMIN devices, so I have never called them or contacted them for support.
posted 06-05-2015 05:28 PM ET (US)
Thanks for all replies.
posted 06-07-2015 03:43 PM ET (US)
Quantitave proof that Garmin is easier to use than Lowrance (or Brand X) is going to be hard to come buy. There are very few independent marine instrumentation reviews being done that bring up ease of use, Panbo is a great site but technical (and reviews on Panbo are no longer single source but written by a group of paid on commission authors). Every now and then a major publication does side-by-side comparisons of like-like models from major brands but they don't get into quantitative ease of use analysis.
So that leaves us with the World Wide Web of agragate opinions. (Which can have it's draw backs...)
But in working with family members and friends, Garmin hands down is more intuitive. Especially the models with the molded soft keys on the right edge (or in other words the non-touch screen).
Top level functions across most brands are about the same, but second tier (and third tier) functions ad integrations are much easier to find and manipulate on Garmin units. And their support and software updates are pretty solid.
A few years ago we did a full marine instrumentation refit on a family boat (~43'). After going to a few shops and playing with different platforms, Garmin was selected by the older crowd because it was easier to use. And this was with a moderately complex system (HD radar, 4212's, NEMA2000, Garmin network, AIS/VHF, engine sensors, etc).
For myself I shop technical specs, and I am comfortable with almost anything reliable. But when other people (friends/family) borrow the boats or join for offshore fishing trips, it is nice to have marine electronics that are easy enough for them to understand such that a 30 min pre-underway lecture is not needed. -- And in my opinion I think that is what Garmin units get you.
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