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Discussion Starter #1
I've been using a handheld Garmin GPSMap 76Csx with Bluechart G2 (NOT Vision) chip using NMEA 0183 output to a VHF for DSC support. I have a separate depth sounder and have no need for fishfinder functions... my current depth instrument works fine. The tiny GPS screen is just too small.

Mounting will be on a swing-arm in the companionway and based on similar setups on friends' sailboats, I'm sure the 5-inch screen is adequate. Price is a key consideration (which explains why some items I am considering are one generation old). I'd appreciate anyone's first-hand feedback on any of these devices when used as chartplotter on a 28-footer.

Lowrance Elite 5m HD Gold (Navionics Gold charts)
Raymarine A50 (Navionics "continental US" charts, can upgrade to Gold)
Garmin EchoMap 50s (can use my Bluechart G2 chip, ignore sounder)
Garmin GPSMap 620 (can use my Bluechart G2 chip)

Thanks for any advice on these or similar products.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank You... I'll take a look.

$400 is a good benchmark for my definition of "Budget-Priced". Thanks for asking.
 

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I had a play around with the Lowrance in West Marine, they are knocking them out with transducer and gold chart chip for $430. I liked the interface, simple to use, pretty logical and everything accessible using buttons rather than touchscreen (which is my preference). I'm in a similar situation, the Lowrance is looking pretty good at the moment, I haven't had a chance to have a poke of the Standard Horizon but they look pretty decent as well. I expect that all of them around that price point are going to be somewhat similar in terms of capabilities, maybe get your hands on a few and see which one makes sense to you.
 

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I got the Lowrance Elite 5 with the Navionics Gold charts this summer and find that it performs well, provides very accurate information and is easy to see.

I also have mine mounted on a swing arm and offer this tip. You can get a small TV mount (mine came from Amazon) and using a small piece of Star Board, make a mount that will attach to the unit and then be bolted to the TV mount.

If you do this, you can have the unit swung out to the upper corner of your companionway opening (easy to get by it for access below) and have a very readable display from the cockpit. When the weather pipes up or you just need the display available inside, just swing the arm and the unit turns 180 degrees and moves back into the corner.

I've mounted the transducer with epoxy to glue it to the iinside fo the hull below the V-berth. It works great.

Murph
 

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I went with the Lowrance Elite as well, replacing a venerable hand-held Garmin 72. I bought it at the spring Defender sale; it was $100 off list, with a $100 rebate. It wound up costing less than $300. Love it. I use it primarily as a chart plotter/depth sounder. I almost never use the fish finder function. My one issue with the unit is that it doesn't display tide information (rather remarkable for a unit meant primarily as a fish finder).
 

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Not sure what budget priced is for you, but you can pick up this SH unit for under $400 (see the rebate form). We use it on our 28' and have been very pleased with it. Intuitive menu's, good feature set and very bright.

Mfg website

Welcome to StandardHorizon.com

Pricing

Standard Horizon CP 190i 5? Color Chartplotter The GPS Store

On line review

Standard Horizon CP190i - Trawler Forum

What Tanley said!!!

We have been using one for years! Down the West coast and through Mexico. We LOVE it, but it sure make me lazy. ;)

Greg
 

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I just bought an Elite 5 DSI Gold from WM, $399+tax. Couldn't justify the extra money for the 7".
 

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Why not "just" get a touchscreen tablet and a GPS puck? Sorry, I don't mean to derail the conversation, but if the interest is in a chartplotter only (not depth/wind speed/etc.), a $100-$200 tablet and $50 GPS puck seems like a much less expensive option. Throw in a good charting app, even at $30, and you're good. Plus the tablet can serve other purposes when in WiFi range.
 

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I'd take a plotter over a tablet any day, especially in this price range.

Tablets generally aren't waterproof and the displays generally don't work so well in bright sunlight. You can spend money to fix the waterproofing issue, but typically can't power them and keep them waterproof at the same time.

I like having a tablet as a secondary or backup GPS, but not as a primary.

If you have other electronics onboard (autopilot, speed or depth transducers, wind instrument, VHF with AIS, etc) you might want to get a GPS that includes NMEA 0183 or NMEA 2000 integration. There are a few of these in the $500 price range.
 

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I prefer to get something designed for the purpose from the outset. I have wasted too much time over the years trying to adapt things to suit a purpose. A tablet will always be a compromise, not waterproof (unless you spend more money on a case, and of course a cheap tablet never has anything designed for it, another compromise requiring the use of a universal cover which won't have ports etc in the right place), not daylight viewable, battery life, and simply not durable enough for use in a marine environment. The only tablet which would be feasible would be an iPad, and by the time you bought that, the accessories etc I am going to be in the hole for way more than a dedicated plotter, even one not at the bottom end of the market. Plus I don't like touchscreens, they simply do not work well in anything other than a nice smooth indoor environment, try pressing a certain spot on a screen when it's pouring with rain, you're getting bashed around and you are wearing full foulies and gloves. That's where I sail.
And after all that, the tablet still doesn't give you depth.
 

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There is one tablet that could be very interesting when it finally ships.

The Earl is waterproof, has a 4-system "GPS" (GPS/GLONASS/Galileo/Beiduo) support, built in radio (not sure if it will do marine VHF) and runs Android so it should work with Navionics.

It is eink based which will make it easy to read in any lighting conditions, but that also has the downside of being monochrome. It'll be interesting to see how easy it is to read charts on it.

Still doesn't get you depth or cheap integration with NMEA electronics.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I am renewing this thread because I did try an 8-inch GPS-enabled Android tablet with NOAA's free MyNOAA chartplotting app that works with their free raster chart downloads.

It works beautifully in the wintertime living room, just OK down below, but is useless in the cockpit, even when overcast. One just cannot read the screen at the helm.

So... my original question remains. I need advice on a 5-inch chartplotter; around $400. I do not need depth / fishfinder function. NMEA 0183 output to VHF is the only interoperability requirement.

If you provide a recommendation, please indicate what you especially like about your choice; (and maybe any aspect you're less happy about too).

Thank you.
 

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Garmin 546 on Ebay can be had for about 400. That's what I paid for one. BTW I'll be putting that one back on Ebay shortly ... Decided instead on a Zeus 7 Touch.
 

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There are great prices on the B&G Zeus and Raymarine A65/A67 these days side both units have been replaced by upgraded models. They are a little more than your target price, but for the difference you get a lot of nice features (including free charts on the Raymarine unit, which can make it cheaper than many budget plotters).
 

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Look at the Standard Horizon!
Standard Horizon CP190INC Chartplotter

SIMPLE 12 volt connection and use! NO OTHER CONNECTION REQUIRED, but has the ability if needed later on. And it's just over your $400 at 450.00.

Greg
 

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Garmin 546 on Ebay can be had for about 400. That's what I paid for one. BTW I'll be putting that one back on Ebay shortly ... Decided instead on a Zeus 7 Touch.
FYI the ZT7 was about 750 after sale and rebates. Replaced all my Garmin kit (546, GMI 10, GPS 17x) with all B&G (Z7T, T41s, ZG 100, etc). Too many frustrations with Garmin. B&G is the only electronics firm catering to sailors.

First major race event was last weekend. Lovin the B&G kit so far.
 

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:puke
Why not "just" get a touchscreen tablet and a GPS puck? Sorry, I don't mean to derail the conversation, but if the interest is in a chartplotter only (not depth/wind speed/etc.), a $100-$200 tablet and $50 GPS puck seems like a much less expensive option. Throw in a good charting app, even at $30, and you're good. Plus the tablet can serve other purposes when in WiFi range.
Every time someone recommends navigating with a tablet, I'm going to mention the recent article in Latitude 38 on the beaching of Seaquel. I quote :

"They'd been navigating for weeks without a problem using iNavX software on Berg's iPad, which was interfaced with the vessel's GPS. That night they were headed for a waypoint offshore of Honokohau Harbor, north of Kialua Kona town. All of a sudden the screen was taken over by a system request to log in to FaceTime, an Apple resource, then another request to log in to the iCloud. No matter what Berg and Peters did, they couldn't clear the screen and log back in to iNavX. Berg also had that software on his iPhone, but he hadn't entered the waypoint there. The built-in chartplotter had a system that displayed NOAA charts, but Berg says that proved inadequate.

"I should have just said, 'Hang a hard left', until we sorted things out, but I didn't. It was totally my screw-up." Before they could find a software solution, they heard the sound of surf crashing and they knew they were in trouble. "
 

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:puke

Every time someone recommends navigating with a tablet, I'm going to mention the recent article in Latitude 38 on the beaching of Seaquel. I quote :

"They'd been navigating for weeks without a problem using iNavX software on Berg's iPad, which was interfaced with the vessel's GPS. That night they were headed for a waypoint offshore of Honokohau Harbor, north of Kialua Kona town. All of a sudden the screen was taken over by a system request to log in to FaceTime, an Apple resource, then another request to log in to the iCloud. No matter what Berg and Peters did, they couldn't clear the screen and log back in to iNavX. Berg also had that software on his iPhone, but he hadn't entered the waypoint there. The built-in chartplotter had a system that displayed NOAA charts, but Berg says that proved inadequate.

"I should have just said, 'Hang a hard left', until we sorted things out, but I didn't. It was totally my screw-up." Before they could find a software solution, they heard the sound of surf crashing and they knew they were in trouble. "
I'll up your :puke with one more :puke !

So many reasons why a tablet will never be more than a backup for me. Water integrity, sunlight view-ability, temperature rating, reliability, and I've generally found the tablet apps I've tried to be seriously lacking in one department or another (BCM, iSailGPS, etc).

But I am interested to try B&G's GoFree WiFi repeater capability ... but below decks or at the dock.
 
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