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Author Topic:   Garmin 54DV or Alternatives
Bensjoy posted 09-11-2015 06:26 PM ET (US)   Profile for Bensjoy   Send Email to Bensjoy  
I'm considering installing a Garmin 54DV but would welcome any suggestions for a five-inch or larger [chart plotter with SONAR].
Hoosier posted 09-11-2015 09:58 PM ET (US)     Profile for Hoosier  Send Email to Hoosier     
You haven't given us enough information to make an intelligent recommendation. What boat, what use, what budget, what other systems (radar, NMEA 2000, engine parameters, Sirius Weather radio, etc.) are in the mix. There is lots of good stuff out there but getting the right "fit" is the challenge.
jimh posted 09-11-2015 11:31 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
With the only criterion as "five-inch or larger" I recommend larger.
Bensjoy posted 09-12-2015 11:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for Bensjoy  Send Email to Bensjoy     
[The combination chart plotter and SONAR is] to be used on 17-foot center console in Florida for Atlantic Intracostal Water Way (AIWW) cruising and near coastal fishing. I am very happy with an older Garmin 541 which I use on one of my other boats, a 1968 Sakonnet.
jimh posted 09-12-2015 01:02 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
I've seen guys use a 12-inch chart plotter on an 18-footer. Did you have any budget limit?

Once boaters get accustomed to a particular brand of chart plotter, they often feel more at home with new products from that same brand, assuming that the user interface will have some constants from model to model. If that is true for you and Garmin, then you probably will be happier with a Garmin as your new device.

jimh posted 09-13-2015 11:04 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
If you have two boats with electronic chart plotters and use them in the same general area, it would be advantageous to have the same brand of chart plotter on both. The advantages would be:

--you would not have to learn two different user interfaces and operating systems, as chart plotters from the same manufacturer should share many common elements in their user interface and control system;

--you could carry electronic chart packages on memory cards between the two boats and use just one set of charts for both; this would save the cost of purchasing duplicate sets of charts; and,

--if you performed off-line planning for navigation, you could use the same off-line navigation software for both chart plotters.

Overall all, I see some advantages for owning two chart plotters of the same brand for use on two boats. Unless there were some very compelling reasons to get a new chart plotter for the second boat of a different brand, I'd stick with the same brand.

jimh posted 09-14-2015 10:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
Regarding competition among makers of chart plotters, it appears to me that the most competition is occurring in models of chart plotters with a 7-inch display. The 7-inch display screen seems to have the most options and choices among the several major manufacturers. There are so many good chart plotters combined with many SONAR options available in 7-inch multi-function displays that it will take a very careful survey and cataloging of all the choices to discover the best one to buy.
jimh posted 09-14-2015 12:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
There are several prior discussion in the archives of SMALL BOAT ELECTRICAL concerning 7-inch chart plotters with SONAR. Reading the prior articles would be a good way to become more familiar with what is available on the market. The articles often have discussions and hyperlinks to more resources. Here are a few pointers:

The SIMRAD NSS7 was discussed recently at

The SIMRAD GO 7 was discussed recently at

The Lowrance HDS Gen-3 series, including the HDS-7 was discussed last year at the time of introduction at

The Hummingbird HELIX 7 was discussed recently at

The Lowrance ELITE 7 was discussed some time ago at

The SIMRAD NSS evo2 series, including the NSS7 evo2, was discussed at the time of the introduction at

Perhaps a careful reading and review of all these prior articles about chart plotters combined with SONAR that are suitable for use in a small boat will help you to come to a decision about which one would be best for your use.

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