Dear Capt. Paul:

I am getting a Garmin 178c GPS/Sounder unit. It comes with maps in it. I see they offer site-specific maps like Mobile to Fourchon.

Will it cover the marsh areas? Do you think it is worth the extra money?

Capt. Paul's response:

The Garmin GPSMAP 178C is a really fine combo GPS depth finder unit. The features and the performance are first-class.

"It comes with maps" means that it has a WORLDWIDE Marine Base Map that displays down to 32 nautical miles. The Built-in Worldwide Marine basemap indicates coastlines, rivers, lakes, political boundaries, tide data for the U.S., cities, interstates, U.S. state highways and major thoroughfares. Remember that the whole world of marine features is in the program, so detailed marsh features are not its high point.

The worldwide map does not have the ability to show the same details that the MapSource US TOPO map or even the MapSource Blue Chart zone maps (Mobile Bay to Fourchon) program can display.

The GPSMAP 178C overcomes the problem by accepting preprogrammed or user-programmed Garmin data cards containing their optional MapSource cartography.

I suggest you consider the accessory package that includes a USB data card programmer (Garmin part No. 010-10363-00) and at least one of their Data Cards with about 64 (No. 010-10226-02) or better yet a 128MB card and their MapSource US TOPO mapping program.

The other option is to get the preloaded data cards in their marine Blue Chart program, but I believe the TOPO type maps offer greater details for the inshore marsh fisherman.

Having such a fine unit and not having the accessory maps is like having a fancy 10-speed bicycle and pushing it instead of riding it.

The GPS map 178C with the additional mapping software is a combo that is very hard to beat. I am sure that it would serve you admirably.

As to the extra price, only you can make that decision.

Dear Capt. Paul:

I am considering upgrading my fish finder to a combination GPS/finder unit. The Lowrance model LMS-337C DF has 480x480 resolution. Is this considered high? What is your opinion of the above model? Does the antenna make a difference, whether it is external or internal?

To replace my in-dash model, I will have to use the external model. Thanks for your opinion.

Pat Quebodeaux

Capt. Paul's response:

That is an excellent GPS combo unit.

The 480x480 pixel screen offers outstanding color images under almost all ambient lighting conditions. The colors in the unit seem to "jump out at you."

Before selecting the unit, I suggest that you place a handheld unit in the dash mounting cavity, and see if the handheld can read the satellite signals. If it can, you may be able to get way with using the unit with the internal antenna, but to be safe, I would opt for the remote antenna. This will eliminate any later concerns about the unit being accurate enough to suit your needs.

Be sure to get the optional MapCreate mapping software. The optional maps really make the unit shine.

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