THE CHEAPEST MAY BE THE MORE COSTLY IN THE LONG RUN
~ Captain Paul's response to: ~ I’M HOOKED”
Often the cheapest turns out to be the most expensive in the long run. So, watch out what you buy.
First you have to do some homework and check out the various manufacturers web sites, remembering to take in account that you may have to purchase an optional mapping program for the system you choose.
To avoid “sticker shock” most of the units come only with a base map. This is what the name implies, a basic map of the entire U.S. This type of mapping gets you in the water with the GPS, but you soon see that the base map does not offer as much detail of the Louisiana marshes. It is then that you will have to come up with $200 to $400 more to have a unit that will serve your needs. So whatever unit you decide on, remember that you may have to purchase an accessory mapping for the unit.
Some units can only accept those charts that are based on Official NOAA Marine charts, where others use maps that are based on U.S.G.S. Topographical type maps. What ever types of maps you use be sure to ALWAYS have a reliable compass and hard copy maps for the area in which you are traveling.
Many first time purchasers first select the maps that they want to have and then select the model of GPS unit that will give them the features they want and accommodate the type of maps or charts they will need for their type of fishing.
That means that a fixed mounted unit, with a color screen of about 5 to 7 inches with the mapping software will be an expensive item, so do your home work and be sure that you are getting what you want now, as it will be expensive to “upgrade” your choice at a later date.
But to get on with your question, it is a tough question to answer. As to what is the “ BEST” GPS for you to use, I would be very hard pressed to make a specific brand or model for you to use.
It would be like you picking a dress out for your wife of mother. Yes it may be the right size, but . . . it would be a no win situation for you.
There are several units that should suit your needs WHEN LOADED with the proper accessory mapping software.
So, in order to at least give you a starting point, let me express some of my findings about different GPS types and styles.
Most manufacturers have a web site that comprehensively covers their line of receivers as well as the mapping software that is available.
I suggest that you begin by looking at each of these sites for an understanding of what is being offered in today’s market. There are others, but I would START with the largest companies that sell GPS receivers to the consumer market. Use the features listed by these units to compare others that may interest you.
Garmin, Lowrance, DeLorme, have a very impressive line of hand held units. These units are available for your perusal on their web sites. Check them out at Garmin @ www.garmin.com/
, Lowrance @ www.lowrance.com/
and Delorme @ www.delorme.com
These manufacturers along with Humminbird @ www.humminbird.com/.
also have an impressive line of fixed units, but they will generally cost more than a hand held uint.
Yes, It know there are others and you may want to consider them also, but start with these brands to get an idea of what is available from the top brands. I don’t recommend considering a “Discontinued” or “Legacy” product as there will usually be a shortage of accessories, including mapping software for the older units and in some cases the manufacturer does not now offer repair services.
These units when loaded with the OPTIONAL mapping software offer a very versatile package that will more than accommodate your needs.
In addition you will have to determine the features that you want in the unit.
I can, however, offer you some pointers that may help YOU decide which one will be best for you.
A gray scale screen (not color) will be less expensive than a color one. Most units with a grey scale are older units as it is now less expensive to produce a color screen. So get a color screen unit.
A smaller screen will be less expensive than a larger one.
A screen that has screen touch-controlled functions will be a great deal more expensive than a button or menu controlled unit.
Those units with a “Touch Screen” command area usually more expensive than button model.
Some units can utilize auto type routing with certain mapping software. This mapping software when used in specific units can provide an ON THE ROAD type routing on the water. This type of routing can guide you on established waterways. Those units that have the ability to do an ON Water routing generally cost more than other units that only have a “AS THE CROW FLIES” type of routing.
Some units cannot accept any other mapping than what is already loaded into the receiver. Most units have a preloaded “base” map that the manufacturer believes will suit your needs. Some cannot be supplemented with any other mapping. These types of GPS units are less expensive than those that CAN accept additional mapping.
Some units require that a data memory card loaded with the maps you designed with your software, or that you purchased pre loaded data cards with maps. These memory cards are inserted into the receiver in order to view those maps on the unit’s screen.
Some of the units can use an over the counter Secure Digital (SD) or Media Memory Cart (MMC) or Micro SD cards and some can ONLY use their own proprietary memory card that requires their own card reader/writer. Be sure to first consider those units that use standard type memory cards. Secure Digital (SD) and Micro SD cards area the present standard.
Some of the units CANNOT accept electronic connections. They are less expensive than those that can accept such downloads.
When considering your choices, be sure to take in to account the SUPPORT that the manufacturer offers for his units. A Support Section that offers a person to speak to about a problem is a very big “plus” when it comes to getting help on a specific problem. Speaking to a person who speaks American English and a machine is really a big plus in the type of support that the various companies offer.
Access the various web sites and view all of the choices you may have, then visit a stocking dealer and “feel” the unit in your hand. Sometimes the buttons on the unit are not quite right for a person with small or large hands or someone who is left handed. Check out the unit, the size of the screens and the general appearance and how it operates.
Narrow down your choices and then get back with me. I would be happy to discuss your options with you.
~ Captain Paul ~