~ Captain Paul's response to: ~ EMPTY SHELL ~
My “best” GPS combo may not be the best unit for you to use. Providing a simple recommendation would have to take into consideration of background on your type of fishing, the area where you fish, the type of boat, where it is installed, etc. You can see that this information is all a determining factor. Then you have to add into the equation the type of maps or charts that are available for the unit.
AS for the GPS part and in some part for the sonar application, the size of the screen is a large determining factor of the overall cost of the unit. The screen size in modern units usually provides a great deal of resolution in viewing the icon and other screen features. In addition to the size of the screen, a touch control feature will add additional cost to the overall price of the unit.
Most modern GPS units now offer an internal processor that can deliver a position to within a 3 meter ( 9.9 feet) radius. With this type of accuracy in a unit, the consumer is getting a superb piece of navigation equipment with an accuracy was unheard of a few short years ago.
So if they all can produce that kind of accuracy from the internal processor, what causes the difference in the overall cost? Software, software that is available for the consumer to use in the unit. Software that features more data fields, faster speed, more different screens and more options for the user, adds to the cost. In addition, the type of technical support usually also increases the cost of the unit. A live person, guiding you through a problem will cost more than you trying to find the answer by typing your question in the internet.
And now for the final option that in some cases may surpass the actual cost of the GPS unit. This option is the internal or accessory mapping software that is available for the unit. Many newcomers to GPS find it more advantage to FIRST select the type of mapping software that they want, then determine which GPS unit can accommodate the software.
Mapping software is expensive, so you don’t want to be buying several types and then upgrading to another. Some chart software can cost upward of $500, so you want to get it right the first time.
So what have I really said? It is up to you to determine which unit is best for your application, taking into consideration the screen size, type of sonar combo, the resolution of the screen, and the number of the functions that the unit can do and of course the type of the charts or maps in or available for the unit.
This will take some homework on your part. Certainly other brands will do, but I suggest that you start your comparison of features and price with the three largest consumer manufactures. Access the Garmin line at www.garmin.com/
the Lowrance line at www.lowrance.com/
and the Humminbird line at www.humminbird.com/
Look at the GPS features first. Decide on screen size and internal features and the maps that are available for the units. Price them all out and narrow down your choices, then visit a stocking dealer. Look at the clarity of the screens, how to access the features and the overall cost with the maps of your choice.
In viewing the maps, check out a unit with your choice of maps in it. Zoom
in on some of your fishing locations and see if the map meets your needs for your particular fishing area. Remember that coastal Marine NOAA charts will show no or very little areas away from the coast. Don’t expect to find Toledo Lake or Caddo Lake by Shreveport in a coastal mapping
software package. For that coverage you will have to look at alternative mapping packages.
Use the data you uncovered as a guide in assisting you in making the final choice. If you wish, after you narrowed down your choices, get back with me with your short list and I would be glad to give you some pointers on those units.
~Captain Paul ~