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  #1  
Old 01-14-2010
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garmin chartplotters- what charts included?

I have a friend looking for an inexpensive chartplotter. I have a Garmin GPS Map 172c. That came with no built-in charts, and you purchase (unlock) whatever charts you want from a CD and load them into the unit.
I'm looking at the lower-priced Garmins- the 420, 421, etc. They say they come with preloaded "worldwide" basemaps, but what does this mean? Will they have detailed Great Lakes charts built-in, or must these be purchased separately? I have studied the Garmin site and vendors sites, but just can't tell.
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Old 01-15-2010
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Garmin's new chartplotter naming convention tells you what charts are loaded. For instance x4y series chartplotters have the US Coastal charts pre-loaded, where the x3y series chartplotters will be identical but have the inland waters charts pre-loaded.

So a 540s will have a 5" screen with the US coastal water charts and the optional sounder. The 430 will have a 4" screen with the US Inland Charts and no sounder.
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Old 01-15-2010
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As SD mentioned, the maps preloaded by Garmin vary from unit to unit. In my experience with at least three Garmins is that the lower end units have basemaps that are not very detailed. The detail is similar to what comes on the basic MapSource software. They usually include nautical aids (lights, buoys, etc.) but the on screen detail is very limited. Garmin Bluecharts, Bluecharts G2, G2 Vision charts are quite detailed.
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I bought a GPSMAP 441 this summer. I found the coastal maps to be plenty detailed, at least for the upper Chesapeake. The nav aids are great, the bottom contuors seem to be accurate according to my depth sounder and the NOAA charts. Even the POI images are decent. I am happy with them. I see them as at least as good as NOAA charts. I really do not need much more than that.
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Please note that the 441 that Nick is talking about is NOT using the Garmin basemaps, but came preloaded with the US Coastal water charts as noted in the x4y unit designation.

The global basemaps are not really suitable for anything but emergencies. They do not have any depth information in them and the coastlines represented are very low-resolution.

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Originally Posted by nickmerc View Post
I bought a GPSMAP 441 this summer. I found the coastal maps to be plenty detailed, at least for the upper Chesapeake. The nav aids are great, the bottom contuors seem to be accurate according to my depth sounder and the NOAA charts. Even the POI images are decent. I am happy with them. I see them as at least as good as NOAA charts. I really do not need much more than that.
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