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Does anyone have a chartplotter they really love? I have a Lowrance HDS 7 that is not easy to use IMO. I would love something that is a little larger, accurate, simple, and clear. I am also looking for very detailed mapping. All opinions welcomed. 

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I have a new Garmin Echo 54    on my HPX which has a small console and is perfect,screen size is medium and operates with depth readings  great at speed.  Moderate price,I love it.  If you need a larger screen the 60 series will fix the bill. 

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Garmin 5212.......have owned it for 10 years and never an issue.   It does not have side scan but where I fish side scan would be a waste of money imo.

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Had Garmins forever and love their ease of use. Just got a 7607 on the Maverick with down and side view. It is cool as snot on a door knob. I thought it was way overkill on a flats skiff but I use the down and side view all of the time. I have 2, 740s on the pathfinder. I use 1 for depth and one for GPS. They have been solid and reliable but man look old when compared to the new stuff.

What I don't like is the touch screens. My next ones will have buttons. It's to hard to do the touch screen while you are running. Second is that Garmin will not let you any other software than their own. I would love to use the Navionics charting but not on a Garmin.

Bottom line for me is that they are reliable and easy to use.

Good luck with your purchase.

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I run a simrad nns7 evo 2 with florida marine tracks chip. Looking to go to a 9 inch screen. FMT chip covers all of florida, I fish 10k islands and it is a must have. Wont work on Garmin. 

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I really like my Simrad with a Navionics chip.  I would recommend that you head down to a larger West Marine that has all the electronics to try out and figure out which one works best for you.  

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What I hate about Garmin and their products is that they are proprietary. No one else can repair them.

Second after a few years on the market, they discontinue their plotters and will not repair them.

You're stuck with a useless piece of expensive junk if it goes south. 

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Garmin's customer service is pretty incredible. You can call and talk to a live person who's very knowledgable on their equipment.  Another thing I like is even if your machine is out of warranty they'll send you a remanufactured replacement at a pretty decent discount. 

I've never delt with Simrad, Lowrance, etc... so they may be the same but when I find good after-the-sale service FROM THE  ACTUALL MANUFACTURER I stick with them. 

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Humminbird is the easiest to use in my opinion. I've used every brand but Simrad which is a higher end Lowrance if you ask me. All have good features, bright screens, and similar features. For chartplotting I've found Garmin to have the best. But ease of use again goes to Humminbird. If you want Florida marine tracks (best map but requires big screen for satellite imagery) you need the Lowrance or Simrads I believe (and 500$ or so for the chip!). I also don't like Garmins proprietary products. I went with Humminbird Helix 7 SI. Got myself a navionics plus chip. Easy chart plotter, an all around good map with navionics, side imaging.. Not the best in the world; but does everything I need it to without being overly complicated. 

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As headhunter mentioned, touch screens are tough to use when running. The best user interface IMO is the Simrad NSS series which in addition to the touch screen has a nice big rotary knob / button combo in the top right corner that lets you access all of the menu functions, zoom, sensitivity, etc. Best advice is to go to a West Marine and play with all brands. You'll quickly find out what you like or don't like.

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Have run Garmin for last 7 years and it is easy to use but going diff direction soon. Something that runs Navionics next. Mostly for reasons mentioned above. I however, really like the touch screen and especially while running as I find it easier than buttons....but my big ole MA rides smooth 9_9

My 740s died and as Jason mentioned they have solid service as mine was no longer supported they replaced my unit and sent me a refurb but it cost me 300 bucks. Have run others other the years and Garmin leads on plotting but sonar maybe not so much as SImrad. Never thought I would need side scan fishing in mostly 5 feet of water or less...but those suckers will mark fish and oyster bars that are barely submerged so thats gonna be on my next system too...Just my 02  

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I run Garmin 73sv and on my buddy's basser he has an hds9 gen2 which i end up running for him. I like the Garmin better. Seems easier to work with. 

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I looked at every machine I could find at Icast in Orlando this month and messed around with the features and menus.  All of the mfg. were there touting all of their current units.  All of the marketing spokes people were camped out in their respective booths.  Wiggins was strategizing around their conference table with Johnson sales force at the Humminbird booth.  There were several bass pros mingling around the Navico booth, the Garmin booth was replete with red shirted reps from all over the country and the Raymarine booth was alive with all kinds interest in their new Axiom.  

My read is if you are shopping within the same general price range, any unit you choose from any mfg., is reasonably comparable to the others.  I found  no substantive differences in the machines themselves when you look apples to apples in terms of price you want to pay.  The relative differences between the machines that do exist are all minor and come down to just individual preferences on things like menu organization, button layouts and to a large extent probably personal bias just based on developed impressions over time or what a person has become used to.   It's like switching from a Iphone to a Samsung.  Once you get accustomed to navigating the menus over a few days, one is just as easy.  I hear about Garmin being the easiest overall but I find the other mfg. touch screen menus are now just as easy but slightly different. 

GPS machines across all of the mfgs.,seem to me to all be pretty good overall.  It's like outboards.  They all compete for the next gadget to market and try to out engineer the others with something but overall for most people I think purchase decisions really just come down to personal preferences on subtle differences.  Thus, the best way to know which machine you like the best is to go touch and mess around with all of the machines and work through the menus and feel the buttons. 

But just because you may find a machine that you like the best does not mean it is the best choice because they all run different maps and that really is probably the most important difference.  If the map or maps you like won't run on that unit you like the best, it's going to be far less useful to you than an alternative unit that does run the chart you prefer.  Any chart plotter is really only as useful as the chart it displays and if you end up looking at a screen all day that shows you a bad chart for your area that is inaccurate, has lacking features or bad photos, it's a poor choice for you.  So for instance, those that run around in a skiff that are just shopping units (and ignoring charting assuming its all about the same) and love the Garmin machines end up with that but ultimately end up finding they are dissatisfied as the maps in the unit and photos totally ***. Many end up learning that the hard way. I was one of those guys.   Granted it is hard to know if you really are starting with no insight because the charts you do see all look great on the units.  But once you get it on the water in practical application you see that although it's a snappy looking chart, the markers are not accurately placed, all kinds of detail that is really there on the water is missing, the photos are dark and you can't really tell exactly where you can run outside of marked channels etc etc.  So the chart is just as important if not more so than the unit and the differences in the available charts are very substantive totally unlike the units.  For others that remain unaware of the chart differences it seems they just remain uninformed as they can only know what they know and seem to get accustomed to what you they use and believe that is about the best they can expect to find. 

I went through all of this myself and learned the hard way last year.  First I had the Humminbird and ran the Navionics.  When my unit started to develop some issues and it was time to upgrade I moved into Garmin buying into their sales pitch.  I found the pitch was all BS.  The unit was good but the chart sucked.  I had to get rid of it as they had no map option that was anywhere near what I used to have.  I couldn't run with it in the crazy areas I run around.  So I started shopping again for different units but this time was focused on the maps and knew I had to have at least a platform that would run my old map.  So, Raymarine was an option along with Hbird again and Lowrance.  In my research, I ran across the Florida Marine Tracks map.  Game over.  The FMT is just in a totally different league all together.  Some screen shots below of some new photos they put on in SFL.  I just run with the photos and turn the map features off so they are not showing but they have every marker and every stake on there along with exact tracks to run.   Once you run that it's like Crack and you have to have it.  So, I ended up with a Lowrance HDS unit and then got a Simrad as well. 

Bottom line...if you are running around in a Maverick skiff and not running an FMT compatible unit you are missing out, particularly if you want to run shallow and in places you may not be familiar with.  I hope this helps at least one person avoid the same mistakes that cost me shopping GPS machines.  You may be like me and for some minor reasons prefer to not buy a Navico unit but its totally worth it and you forget about that quickly when you can run this FMT chart and see everything you want to see.  

 

 

 

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I have a hds 12 on my pathfinder 23.  I live on the Chesapeake bay and don't care for their mapping.  Thinking about navionics but not really needed in the bay.  When in Florida I use Florida marine tracks and can't say enough good things about it.  I'm able to run spots I would never have tried without it.  I talked to Glen a few times and he will take the time to walk you through any problems you may encounter.  Well worth every penny.  

 

 

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  Simrad GO9 XSE with Navionics + chip with the Total Scan transducer.  Has high and low frequency Chirp, Downscan  and Side Scan sonar.  Touch screen with NEMA 2000 capability.  Upgraded from a Garmin unit and very happy with the change.  In my opinion a very good choice with a bright screen and great chart and sonar detail. 

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I'm very happy with my Lowrance HDS 12 using a Navionics chip.  The screen is bright, I can see it easily in bright sunlight.   I like the side scan and down scan features.  I can tell the difference between a wreck or brush and fish on the bottom.  I also like the navigation software.

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