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Go Back   SailNet Community > General Interest Forums > Gear & Maintenance
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Old 02-18-2010
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Any Chartplotter suggestions?

No surprise, I don't have a lot of money, but I'm looking for suggestions on which chartplotter to get for my small boat. I'm planning to head down the ICW very soon ( escaping winter ) and I'd like to have something to give me an idea of my location. I have an older handheld GPS and new charts, but I'm interested in the idea of the chartplotter. Granted, I know if I get lost on the ICW I probably have problems that no amount of equipment will save me from, but if you have suggestions on a chartplotter that would be great.

My current plan is to head to the coast, turn right and go south ( downhill ).

Thanks!
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Old 02-18-2010
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Be sure to

If you are going to be doing some traveling, no matter which brand you choose, be sure and get something with pre loaded charts. If you don't you will spend much, much more money on the chart cards than on the plotter. New, each area costs around 150 bucks on average. Some a little less, and some of the large area cards much more. I am very partial to Garmin products, as I find them to be very user friendly, and their customer support takes a back seat to no one.
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A second thought

Overall, a color unit is easier to see in bright sun. I would, if possible, look at several units and check how easy they are to see in bright sunlite.
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Old 02-18-2010
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I have been very pleased with my Garmin GPSMAP 441. It is the one with preloaded US coastal maps. It's not too large and does not use much power. I forgot what the current draw is but an earlier post I made has it. Easily viewable in sunlight and I like the maps. Lots of detail.
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Old 02-19-2010
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Go check out and compare models at West Marine. A color unit is far more useable than a monochrome. A valid point has been raised about buying charts. I know you are cost concious but think about what you will require in the future regarding upgrading instruments and maybe adding an autopilot, a few extra $ spent now may be a wise investment. Consider a refurbished unit to save money or to obtain a better specified unit for you budget..
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Old 02-19-2010
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Variations of this topic come up frequently. Recently there was a thread on a FREE chart plotter & charts that you can find here (this is a redirect because of SailNet's autolinking program. You'll hit tinyurl first. Follow that link to the thread.)
You will need a laptop, and a GPS receiver (~$60) to use it on your boat.

Regarding the visibility of the screen in sunlight, I believe that it has more to do with the type of display, rather than whether it is color or black & white. I specifically chose my new laptop (Toshiba A505) because it has a Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD screen, just like my portable GPS. My wife's car has a built in nav system with a color LCD screen, but I can barely read it when the sun is bright.
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Old 02-19-2010
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I'd point out that almost all laptops have TFT active matrix screens nowadays... however, the screen on most small GPS units are transreflective TFT active matrix screens, which are not the same thing... and I doubt that your Toshiba laptop has a Transreflective TFT screen on it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by eherlihy View Post
Variations of this topic come up frequently. Recently there was a thread on a FREE chart plotter & charts that you can find here (this is a redirect because of SailNet's autolinking program. You'll hit tinyurl first. Follow that link to the thread.)
You will need a laptop, and a GPS receiver (~$60) to use it on your boat.

Regarding the visibility of the screen in sunlight, I believe that it has more to do with the type of display, rather than whether it is color or black & white. I specifically chose my new laptop (Toshiba A505) because it has a Thin Film Transistor (TFT) LCD screen, just like my portable GPS. My wife's car has a built in nav system with a color LCD screen, but I can barely read it when the sun is bright.
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eherlihy is right: it is a frequent topic here and you can search easier if you use google to do it. On the google search screen enter what you want to search for on the forums followed by a space and "site:http://www.sailnet.com/forums/" and you'll get a bunch of hits to look at.
For example: "chartplotter site:http://www.sailnet.com/forums/".

I've been looking myself and I've been following the recent threads with interest. I've also been searching all the marine electronics and sporting goods stores I can find online. I have a Lowrance chartplotter/fishfinder with excellent LEI chart/map card and was very happy with it until the external gps receiver went out. It will cost close to $300 to buy a replacement, adapter cable and have it shipped so I'm thinking about a new plotter/fishfinder.

I've been looking all winter and just recently found a new option that may interest you: Lowrance M68C S/Map. It's a chartplotter/fishfinder with built in detail map. It retails for about $375. It can be had for $320 without the ducer which I have already and it has an internal gps receiver.

See what you find if you keep searching.
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Old 02-19-2010
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailingdog View Post
I'd point out that almost all laptops have TFT active matrix screens nowadays... however, the screen on most small GPS units are transreflective TFT active matrix screens, which are not the same thing... and I doubt that your Toshiba laptop has a Transreflective TFT screen on it.
No, I never claimed that it had a transreflective display, but after reading about it, I think that it may. Here is a description of transreflective display technology, if any of you are interested.

What I do know is that I looked for a laptop with a TFT display, because that is what my portable chart plotter has. I can read it in direct sunlight. In fact, I turn the brightness all the way down in direct sun. Here is what it has, per the Toshiba website: " 16.0” diagonal widescreen TruBrite ® TFT LCD display at 1366x768 native resolution (HD)." Note that I can not read my wife's HP laptop, nor the Macbook (from my last job) with high ambient light.
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