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GPS: Garmin vs. Magellan or other, WTB

Discussion in 'Boat Electronics' started by Guy, Nov 17, 2005.

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  1. Guy

    Guy Guest

    I searched the archives and found a few similar articles,
    but nothing in the last few years. Sorry if I missed
    something and am asking about a too frequent thread, but
    flame on if you must. Also, I am not planning on using a
    hand held GPS instead of charts. I always carry my own
    charts, as you can always depend on the charter company to
    have them. That said. . .

    I used to be on the water all the time, inland and offshore,
    and have quite a bit of experience in navigation coastal and
    open water between islands. For the past 10 years I have
    been boat free (boatless ?), but have chartered every year
    or two in the BVI and Florida (crossing Florida bay and
    heading to DT). I have always been happy with the equipment
    on the boats, but now would like to have something to save
    routes and bring home to load into charting S/W so I can
    remember where we went (okay, senior moment).

    I am at the point where I need reading glasses to read my
    watch (sigh) so I need to play with units in a store to see
    how readable they are for me. Other than that, the features
    I would like to have other than basic navigation to
    waypoints are:
    - route tracking to store where we sailed
    - Man Overboard button (or similar instant WP function)
    - Anchor alarm
    - and it would be nice if it had tidal information (a
    feature some of the newer ones have that seems like a nice
    thing to have, if anyone can provide feedback on it I would

    Based on that, I am interested in the groups experience with
    the current crop of handheld GPS offerings and what
    features were great and which disappointed. I would love to
    hear your raves about how happy you are with brand X, but
    please let's not get into cartoon characters urinating on a
    brand because Chevy is better than Ford, is better than
    Dodge, is better than ...

    Again, sorry if I missed a recent posting about this.
    Thanks in advance for all your input.

  2. Problem is, we all like the GPS we bought, so to get an objective opinion is
    well-nigh impossible, since we don't usually have the opportunity to
    extensively try out other makes.

    My Garmin GPSMAP 60C is a cracker, FWIW!

    You might get more objective view having a browse thru, or

  3. Dene

    Dene Guest

    I did the same thing you did.....researched the archives and concluded, as
    Dennis wrote, that it is a matter of personal preference. That being said,
    I chose to utilize my laptop, buying a waterproof USB GPS receiver and MS
    Streets and Trips on E-Bay for $60. Works like a charm although the marine
    application is basic. It only shows the channel of the Columbia River, not
    depth or buoy markers. However, at this stage in my learning curve, the
    channel location is what I need, particularily at night or in case of fog.
    Down the road, I'm hoping to access some marine software that gives me more
    extensive information.

  4. Jack Erbes

    Jack Erbes Guest

    Guy wrote:

    I do occasional boat deliveries in the Northeastern U.S. I have a
    Meridian Color and the optional MapSend BlueNav charting package. That
    travels with me as a backup navigation system to the equipment that is
    on the boats. It also has on it, all the routes and waypoints I use

    The BlueNav package gives me 80-odd "charts" covering the U.S. Great
    lakes, the East, Gulf, and West coasts, and down through the Bahamas.

    What is called a "chart" on BlueNav is actually a Navionics "Small"
    chart region. Each region contains a number of charts of various scales
    and charts for many ports and harbors in that region. So I actually
    have hundreds of charts.

    To get a feel for the charting, look at the 6xx and 7xx series regions
    here and you can get a feel for the size of the BlueNav regions:

    The BlueNav package comes with a desktop application for navigation
    planning, that can be used to place waypoints and build routes. The
    routes and waypoints can then be uploaded to the Meridian.

    So this gives me a good navigation capability. I can get on a boat with
    that and a chartbook and, with no other navigation equipment, find my
    way around.

    As a warning, the process Magellan has to use to protect the chart data
    from illegal copying and distribution makes using the charts somewhat
    less than a "no brainer" if you are going to be crossing two or three
    regions in one day or if you are operating on the boundary between two
    adjacent regions. But it is manageable enough and certainly better than
    not having the charts.

    I also use some other PC software (SeaClear II, a great! freeware) and a
    GPS utility named GPS Utility (free to try, nominal cost to buy) to
    handle my interactions between SeaClear, the Meridian and other software
    packages. Those let me archive, edit, and manipulate tracks, waypoints,
    and routes to my heart's content.

    Garmin has comparable offerings in both hardware and software that I
    have not used, I assume those will do about the same things to about the
    same level of satisfaction as the Magellan stuff.

    If anyone that does not own both brands of hardware and software tells
    you that either one is better than the other, don't believe them. It
    boils down to user preferences and perceptions and the dreaded "I bought
    it, so it has to be best" syndrome can be very misleading.

    If I were going to buy a new handheld today, I would give the Magellan
    eXplorist XL serious consideration because it has a larger display than
    my Meridian, can use the software I already own, and uses a very similar
    menu system.

    I would also look at the offerings from other companies and drop by West
    Marine or somewhere like that to see what else is on the market.

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