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  #1  
Old 05-06-2005
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Garmin vs. Raymarine - opinions from users?

I am looking into getting a large offshore cruising sailboat, and obviously I will need a GPS and radar. I had been a Magellan handheld user for quite some time, but that came to a screeching halt when I discovered that their electronic chart selection was so limited as to be useless omce you got past the Bahamas. I wound up with a Garmin handheld and their Bluewater chart CD that had EVERYTHING from the bay of Alaska down to Tierra Del Fuego, and was very pleased with the ability to zoom in practically infinitely and see the bottom depth contours as I was passing over them in the Caribbean.

I am sure the Raymarine products have similar capabilities, but I would like to hear from some users as th which product may be more fully featured. The items I am specifically interested in are:
1. Does one company have more comprehensive electronic databases than the other?
2. Are these databases available in bigh chunks, or piecemeal in memory sticks?
3. Does one product have a technology edge as far as satellite or XM integration into the plotting and/or weather radar?
4.Does one product have a significantly easier interface to use?
5.Does one product have a significant advantage in interfacing with autopilot systems?

At this point I am really not interested in price comparisons as much as who has the most and best features, and I would be very grateful for any advice I can get on this mater. Thank you!
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Old 05-12-2005
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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.
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Old 05-13-2005
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Garmin vs. Raymarine - opinions from users?

Sam,

1. Does one company have more comprehensive electronic databases than the other?
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RayMarine uses C-Map and now Navionics "Gold" in their newest line (C & E series) of plotters. Both are serious cartography.
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2. Are these databases available in bigh chunks, or piecemeal in memory sticks?
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Both C-Map and Navionics Gold are vector format cartography sold in various geographic sizes...memory sticks if you like.
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3. Does one product have a technology edge as far as satellite or XM integration into the plotting and/or weather radar?
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Not as familiar with Garmin but have read of their XM Wx integration. They have the lead (exclusive?) on that.
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4.Does one product have a significantly easier interface to use?
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No. Even by the most stringent test there is no "significant" ease of use difference. There may be preferences however that you may find more or less suitable to your use. Practical Sailor magazine has done some comparisons in the last year. You may want to go to their URL and back order the relevant issue(s).
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5.Does one product have a significant advantage in interfacing with autopilot systems?
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Hmmmm... your use of the word, "significant" makes this one tougher. NMEA allows a common i/f. That said, the proprietary network protocols of instrument/autopilot manufacturers can be more "robust", to grab at an intentionally vague word! Having common equipment allows using the proprietary network protocols. That may give an advantage to RayMarine IF that is your autopilot manufacturer.

Be sure and do your homework on the differences between vector and raster format carography before buying either! People get pretty passionate about their favorite, but you should decide based on as many facts as you can find!

Wayne
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Old 05-13-2005
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Garmin vs. Raymarine - opinions from users?

I have both Garmin and Raymarine stuff on a 65-foot ULDB. If you are integrating knotmeter, windmeter, depthsounder, and repeater displays, I would recommend Raymarine, as they make all of that gear, but Garmin does not. Raymarine chartplotters will display all info from all those other transducers, and everything talks to everything else, and pretty much anything can be displayed anywhere. For example, I can display depth info on my autopilot display, and show any data or combination of data on the repeaters, and the autopilot receiving wind data can steer to a specified wind angle.
Although NMEA sends some data, there is a lot of info that it does not send, and having everything speaking the same language is a plus.
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