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Garmin vs. Raymarine - opinions from users?
Trying to be objective:
GPS - nothing is any better or worse. The technology has figured it all out as well as can be made for a device floating around on a boat.
Radar - has been around for 60 years and it works as it does. It is being intergated over a chart display with serveral products. The displays are actually more reliable than they used to be too, but the radar itself is largely unchanged. Know this - Radar interpretation is not like watching TV. It takes a lot of practice to be good with radar. To be really good when it really counts takes a lot of experience.
Charts - Electronic charts are probably best measured by how they are updated. Nothing is more accurate as the latest NOAA ENC charts. They should be out for the whole country within a year or so. That level of standard is only followed in a few countries around the world. Conversion to an electronic chart can give the illusion of uniform accuracy when in fact it is not the case.
Device Interfaces are all done well functionally I think with most of the products. Even the old NMEA standard works well. Some of the newer network based systems are nice in that multiple displays get easier to add and integration is tightest with high speed. The look of the new RayMarine LCD display is tremedous in appearance and price. the marine flat panel displays do work very well but cost is a serious issue.
I have been using a Tacktick wireless Wind instrument for almost a year. It has one nice feature - no wires! Installation of the equipment is maybe more important than the gear itself. Wires running around a boat is a hard thing to do properly so they last. Many many details to consider.
For intefacing and charting there are several software products that do a great job. Computer based software can even the score with almost all the systems. You could even consider some handheld devices for making computations too.
Redundancy seems to drop off with higher levels of integration. You do need backup systems with paper charts too. These backups need to be readily available as you may need them at a time when you can not stop for repairs (like a serious storm). All that has to be factored into what lateest and greatest technology you pick.
Cost really does matter too. Nothing is really "best". It''s not that simple. The issue of Garmin vs Raymarine is almost pointless. A brand name won''t make you successful.
Nothing is easy to use either. It takes a lot to understand it well enough to know when it looks wrong because it is. None of these devices will allow you to not know all the rudementary parts of the science of navigation, weather and marine science as wellas the details of the various devices you use.