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Garmin 3210, 478, and G2 Cards

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Garmin offers so many plotters these days! The 32xx series—in 05, 06, and 10 models, i.e. screen sizes—is an update to the top-of-the-line networked 30xx series, still in production, the major difference being that all U.S. charts, in the new BlueChart G2 format, are now built right in. Shown is a $2,667 3210, which is running an optional G2 chart card that adds detailed street information, POIs, and, most notably, a wealth of high-detail aerial photos. The extra data, at $214 for a half-the-Maine-coast regular-size card, is expensive, but it was impressive that the Swan’s Island ledge shown—a cause clbre, as it is missing from another manufacturer’s current chart cards (head’s up, or, rather, down)—is illustrated from three different angles.

All of Garmin’s 32xx networked multifunction displays can work with the XM weather discussed in the column, audio channels, too, and so, amazingly, can the new 478 portable unit also tested. Moreover, the 478—head of a series that now includes the 276c, 376c, and 378 (the c went away, as new models are all color, but the rest of the naming scheme is a bit mysterious)— has all U.S. charts and U.S. street maps built in. Altogether that makes the $1,286 device the most powerful mobile navigator in the world, by a long shot, and particularly attractive to those who’d want to carry their XM weather and radio subscriptions from boat to car to home.

But can you really see all that map and weather data on a 3.8-inch screen? It is extraordinarily sharp and bright, but I’m hoping that Garmin’s next big add to this series is output to a larger monitor. It also seems likely that Garmin will introduce fixed displays bigger than 10 inches, especially as it’s just announced new four- and six-foot open-array digital radar scanners. Stand by for more model numbers!

This article originally appeared in the October 2006 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.