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Opinions on total-package electronics brands?

3174 Views 10 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  jnkendal
I am looking to completely re-outfit my boat with electronics. I'm looking for opinions on the best single brand to build my system with. I would like full integration of autopilot, fishfinder, anemometer, knot meter, GPS, radar, weather, etc. I don't intend to purchase all the components at one time and therefore require a continually expandable system. I know all major marine electronics companies (Furuno, Raymarine, etc) utilize some network like this... so which brand is better? I've heard opinions that Raymarine is overpriced, unreliable, and the support is spotty? Is the same true of Furuno? Is there any other viable option better than them both? Garmin?

Any and all opinions are much appreciated.

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What are you looking to do with the boat? Coastal cruising? Bluewater? Different systems are good for different things.
Have you seen the new E-Series wide? It supports both touchscreen AND hard button control, and more importantly it supports both cMap and Navionics charts in the same unit. That feature alone makes me want to upgrade my C-Series.
Then I would recommend either the Raymarine or Garmin setups. You'll get networkable plotters (enabling you to share routes and waypoints), depth, speed, wind, AIS, VHF/DSC, fishfinder, radar, weather, etc. I would recommend the newer Raymarine stuff if you go with Raymarine - the ST70 displays and either the C series wide screens or the soon to be released E series widescreens. I would also recommend that you go to your local West Marine that has the Garmin stuff in stock, and compare the use of a touchscreen display vs. a hard button display. I like the touchscreen, but in heavy seas I think I would prefer my hard button display I have now. The new Raymarine E Series allows you to use both capabilities in a single unit. I think you'd probably be happy with either manufacturer. I would like to point out that the Raymarine C series uses only Navionics chips, so if you want to go to the Bahamas use either the Garmin stuff or the Raymarine E-Series with cMap chips (both include the Explorer charts, which are the gold standard for the Bahamas). I would also like to suggest that you look at a handheld Garmin Oregon GPS as a spare. You can carry it to the bow to set an anchor alarm, and then place it next to your head in your berth for when you sleep.
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