Garmin catches up (and then some)

DownVü, SideVü offers angler lots of options

Garmin is bringing its down- and side-scanning sonar technology to the marine electronics market, calling them DownVü and SideVü. You can expect near-picture-quality views of the fresh- or saltwater world beneath and off to both sides of your boat like those you’ve been seeing on the screens of other manufacturers’ units.

The DownVü technology introduction starts with a brand-new line of echo dv series stand-alone fishfinders and echoMAP dv sonar/GPS combo units with built-in DownVü capability.

The series includes everything from fishfinders with 4-inch monochrome screens to combination sonar/GPS chart plotter units with full-color displays.

A software update that allows new GPSMAP 500 and 700 series units to be DownVü compatible will be released alongside these new units. Add the download to your existing unit along with a DownVü transducer and you are ready to go.

New keypad-controlled GPSMAP 800 and 1000 series units come with DownVü built-in, along with a 1,000-watt traditional down-looking sounder with CHIRP technology for use in deep water.

The 800 series models have 8-inch displays, and the 1000 models have 10-inch screens. These units can also network with Garmin radar scanners and other peripherals.

One of those “other peripherals” is Garmin’s new GCV-10 black-box module with SideVü, DownVü and CHIRP scanning technologies built-in. This module provides SideVü capability to the new GPSMAP 800 and 1000 units, and it can provide DownVü, SideVü and CHIRP scanning to older units that didn’t come with Vü capabilities. Just add the appropriate transducers (and transducer adapters on some models), download the latest software update for your unit and these new technologies will be at your fingertips. Check the for unit compatibility.

I hate to keep bringing up the term “CHIRP” without knowing that all of you fishermen remember what the heck it is from my previous columns.

CHIRP is short for Compressed High-Intensity Radiated Pulse, a technology that first appeared associated with radar and was adapted for use with sonar thanks in huge part to the brains at Airmar Technology Corporation, a cutting-edge transducer design and manufacturing company.

CHIRP helps us beat a sonar problem that has been bugging us since World War II. Conventional sonar transmits and receives sound at one single operating frequency. This is problematic because using only one frequency means we have to compromise; low frequencies penetrate to deeper depths but they don’t deliver the best screen detail and they often don’t work well at boat speeds much faster than a brisk trolling speed, while high frequencies deliver great detail and perform well at high cruising speeds but lack depth penetration and are sometimes more susceptible to noise interference.

The closest thing to an industry standard operating frequency is 200kHz because it works well at speed, delivers good screen resolution, resists interference at least somewhat and manages decent depth penetration. But, it is a compromise, and what we really need for top performance is the ability to scan with both high and low frequencies simultaneously. Enter CHIRP — it transmits a continuous sweep of low to high frequencies, and then interprets the echoes from each frequency individually.

We get more potential screen resolution without sacrificing depth penetration or high boat-speed performance, and we get some built-in resistance to interference. And, getting more information overall means getting a more-comprehensive look at what’s below on our screens. Garmin also includes CHIRP’s advantages in its high-resolution down and side scanning technology.

Another new development for owners of Garmin GPSMAP 8000 Glass Helm Series and GPSMAP 8500 black box series units is the Garmin Helm Mobile App that provides chart plotter monitoring and control capability when you are away from the helm, giving you full access to all multi-function menus, screens and features right on your iPad or iPhone.

The Garmin Helm app can be used by up to five mobile devices, and they can initiate full control or be limited to view-only status. The free app can be downloaded from the App Store for iPad and iPhone use. A Garmin Marine WiFi Adapter (sold separately) is needed.

Garmin is also introducing two new radar scanners for use with a wide assortment of Garmin display units.

The new GMR 18 and 24 xHD models are 4kW high-definition dome radars. The scanner domes have a dynamic new look and include intuitive, open-array features. They turn at a maximum speed of 48 rpm, offer automatic adjustment based on range and their dynamic auto gain and dynamic sea filter features continuously self-adjust as conditions change.

The maximum range of both scanners is 48 miles, and a dual-range display feature lets you see near and far radar views simultaneously on a split screen. New 8-bit color presentations give operators a more-comprehensive view of weather patterns and obstructions on the horizon.

In Garmin’s digital mapping department, LakeVü HD Ultra is expanding and getting highly detailed MaxDef cartography. Garmin says its LakeVü HD Ultra has more than double the detail of its nearest competitor for inland mapping.

More than 17,000 lakes are covered, and more than 5,700 high-definition lakes appear with 1-foot contour lines from shore to shore (10 times the previous number of lakes).

All HD lakes now include a high-resolution feature called Relief Shading that adds color and visual depth to help differentiate humps, valleys and drop-offs. It is designed to help a 2-dimensional map take on a 3-D look and feel.

The MaxDef maps include more than 40 of the top fishing lakes in the U.S. that have been mapped by Garmin’s survey fleet. They integrate sonar imagery with surface and side-scan photos of notable structure and submerged landmarks.

Previously broken down into five regions, all coverage is now on one card. LakeVü HD Ultra with MaxDef will be compatible with Garmin’s GPSMAP 500 and 700 series, the new GPSMAP 800 and 1000 series and echoMAP50 and 70 series units.

Visit for more information.

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