Have new boat ~ What GPS unit to purchase.
~ Captain Paul's response to: ~ Dale Watts ~
This is not an easy question to answer. The top three sellers of consumer GPS Combo units, Humminbird, Lowrance and Garmin offer outstanding GPS ChartPlotter~Depth Finder and GPS CHARTPLOTER units. All will give you a very accurate GPS position as well as offer a screen that ranges form 4 to 15 inches. All will be able to deliver an accurate position fix to within 3 meters with the WAAS feature enabled.
The cost of the unit will depend on the size of the screen, weather it has internal mapping and the amount of various screens and the features of these screens.
Most users now decide on a Chartplotter GPS meaning that it has the availability of internal and or supplemental mapping for the unit.
The crux of the dilemma in choosing such a unit, is determining if the unit and internal or accessory mapping will meet your PARTICULAR mapping needs.
I prefer internal and accessory maps that are based on U.S.G.S Topographical maps rather than NOAA MARINE CHARTS for my fishing needs in the coastal Louisiana marshes. U.S. NOAA Marine charts are the best in the world for depicting the established commercial marine channels etc. These waterways are the ones marked with Aids to Navigation (NAVAIDS) consisting of lights, buoys, cans, nuns and day markers. NOAA Charts are a necessity for OFFSHORE navigation as most topo type maps only cover offshore areas for a mile or two.
However, I find the Marine Chart type of mapping lacking in showing the land, bayou, lagoon, lake, and bays away from these channels.
I have seen some users who purchased a new GPS Chartplotter and are totally dissatisfied with the internal mapping and then learn that they cannot supplement the mapping or even update it with a download from the manufacturer.
So the bottom line is CHECK THE MAPPING! Take time to note the type of mapping available for the GPS you intend to purchase and see if the mapping software for that unit will suit your needs. Remember that it can add about $200 to $400 to the overall cost of the total system.
I suggest that you visit a stocking GPS dealer and actually view the units that are available, but more important, actually view the mapping software that are available for that unit.
I have found that many new purchasers first select the mapping software that they want and then match its availability to a GPS unit that will suit their needs.
Check out the three largest consumer GPS manufacturers, Garmin @ www.garmin.com;
Lowrance @ www.lowrance.com
and Humminbird @ www.humminbird.com.
Decide how much space you have at the helm console then check out the units that suit your needs with the mapping software that is available for those units. Then visit a stocking dealer and actually view the unit with the mapping software you need. Take note how easy or hard it is to use the features and access the various functions on the various screens.
Doing so will save you a lot of money, and give you the type of unit and mapping you need for your type of fishing.
Please let me know about your final decision on the GPS system you choose.
~ Captain Paul ~