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Holy Garmin cow: SideVü/DownVü, GPSMAP 800/1000, GMR 18/24 xHD, Meteor 300, gWind & the Helm app

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Written by Ben Ellison on Nov 18, 2013 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub

Garmin is purportedly announcing nearly fifty 2014 marine products today!  A lot are related to the company's new ability to offer the high resolution down and side scanning that's become so popular with freshwater and near coastal fishermen (and curious gunkholers like myself). Soon the relatively easy-to-understand (and fit-on-a-small-screen) down view will be available in new echo dv fishfinders and echoMAP dv fishfinder/GPS combos that will then better compete against similar products from Lowrance, Humminbird and Raymarine. Moving up the cost curve you'll find CHIRP-assisted DownVü and SideVü, which look wicked sharp in the screenshot above (imaging what's likely the remains of a bridge in a man-made lake)...


CHIRP assisted SideVü and DownVü originate in the GCV 10 black box above, which is obviously networkable. In fact, the GCV 10 probably explains, at least in part, why Garmin put a second Ethernet port on last year's new GPSmap 741 Series (Panbo discussion here). Garmin's fully networkable systems -- like the 6-, 7- and 8000 Series -- are not yet listed as compatible, but it certainly seems possible (and desirable). I haven't yet found photographs of the 12-pin 455/800 kHz DownVü/SideVü transducer that comes with the GCV 10 or the 8-pin "all-in-one" 77/200 kHz sonar/DownVü transducer that comes with the various new echo dv fishfinders, but I imagine they are half-tube shaped and will come as transom mounts with thru-hull options later (as all the down and side view manufacturers have done). 

Garmin GCV-10 downscan sidescan new 11-13.jpg

HD-ID sonar/DownVü is also a built-in choice for the new GPSMAP 1040sx and 840sx, though they can also support traditional 1 kW sonar and CHIRP. These are non-touch displays with an 8-softkey and dedicated button interface quite similar looking to the 6000 Series.  Both models come loaded with both LakeVü HD maps and BlueChart g2 coastal charts and can handle both BlueChart g2 Vision and the new LakeVü HD Ultra regional cartography packages. Meanwhile, the new GPSMAP 1020 annd 820 lack the built-in fishfinding and charts but offer "Special Sailing Features," including "laylines, enhanced wind rose, heading and course-over-ground lines, and true wind data fields" (no screenshots yet; please holler if you see some).
   All these new MFDs offer "select networking capabilities that allow you to share features with other compatible GPSMAP units, such as radar {all models}, GCV 10 DownVü and SideVü scanning sonar, supplemental maps, and user data, such as waypoints, routes and tracks." In other words, I think, Garmin is sticking with its strategy of limiting the network abilities of less expensive MFDs like the popular 700 Series, but a lot less so :-)


Garmin also has new GMR 18 and 24 xHD radomes, both of which are 4 kW with purported 48-mile maximum range. Both are also dual speed with automatic control, can work at dual ranges simultaneously and feature dynamic gain and sea filtering, all rendered on screen in "vibrant 8-bit color for greater detail of weather patterns or obstructions." I think that this is an important update for Garmin as their radomes (not their xHD open array radars) seemed weak in the comparative HD radome testing I did a few years ago. Hopefully, next season I'll get to see if they meet or even exceed the competition (and whether they'll network across fully and selectively networkable Garmin MFDs, which seems like a "maybe" at this point).


And how about Garmin Meteor 300 black box audio system that's sort of like Navico's SonicHub, but based on newer Fusion technology? So, it has Bluetooth streaming and control, and it can be accessorized with a NMEA 2000 remote and/or an Apple-connector-change-safe and Android-friendly dock (note that Lowrance and Simrad have also added SonicHub support for the Uni-Dock). Many GPSMAP models will porportedly be compatible with the Meteor 300 over N2K, and if that interface is like what I'm seeing with Fusion-Link on a Garmin 7212, which is very likely, it will be a fantastic way to run your stereo when you're at the helm.


Almost finally, the relationship between Garmin and their sailing instrument developer, Nexus Marine, has taken an interesting turn. The new gWind sensors, both wired and wireless, at least look exactly like the unique Nexus design I first saw at METS in 2006, which is just fine because it's earned a good reputation and, even better, Garmin's version comes with a GND 10 Black Box Bridge that apparently integrates Garmin's NMEA 2000 data system with the 0183-based Nexus Network. The box, which is available separately, even supports PC applications like NexusRace and Expedition, and is apt to make some sailors with existing Nexus systems very happy (and more likely to be Garmin customers if they aren't already).
   Finally, I think, there's the new free Garmin Helm app, which is not really a surprise. I don't have screenshots yet, but how nice that it became available on the Apple App Store today. So far, only Garmin's GPSMAP 8000 series is compatible -- and you'll need a WiFi Adapter Kit (which I still think will be replaced eventually with a better Garmin-built model) --  but it seems safe to presume that smartphone and tablet mirrorings and control will come to other Garmin MFDs in due time.
   I'm sure I've missed many details of all these new products, but hopefully, people visiting METS (like Kees), or those otherwise in the know, will fill in.

Garmin Helm app at app store cPanbo.jpg

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