Greg Copp checks out the latest from Garmin
The Garmin ECHOMAP Plus series is a substantial update on the previous ECHOMAP range. Featuring bright, sunlight-readable 4″, 6″, 7″ or 9″ displays, this range of plotters is aimed at serving a large part of the market. The 6″ units are new to the ECHOMAP range, with more pixels and an easier screen to read than the previous 5″ model that it has replaced. There is also a new keyed-assist touch screen facility on the 7″ and 9″ units, giving access to the features most likely used.
With built-in Wi-Fi, every unit in this range can connect to a smartphone/tablet via the free all-in-one Garmin ActiveCaptain mobile app that has just been released. This enables users with the ActiveCaptain app to access, update and purchase maps/charts from the OneChart storefront on a mobile device, and reference the ActiveCaptain community for marina and other points-of-interest details. This app also sends smart notifications directly to the plotter, as well as over-the-air software updates. This makes it possible for boaters to purchase the latest chart, study it and then plan their next trip before stepping on the boat. Once the ECHOMAP Plus is powered up, the charts are instantly available on the plotter, and the user can rest assured that the software will always be updated with the latest improvements from Garmin. If need be, the plotter itself can be viewed and controlled from a phone or tablet, in effect giving you a second remote screen.
For crystal-clear scanning of fish and structure, the ECHOMAP Plus offers built-in CHIRP traditional sonar and CHIRP ClearVü and SideVü scanning sonar. Instead of just sending one single frequency, CHIRP sends a continuous sweep of frequencies and interprets them individually upon their return, creating crisper fish arches with better target separation. For anglers who want to see objects and structure below the boat, ClearVü provides a near-photographic view with excellent resolution and target separation in both fresh and salt water. The ECHOMAP Plus ‘sv’ models also add SideVü scanning for customers who want to see what’s located on both sides of the boat.
All 7″ and 9″ Plus units provide support for the whole range of Garmin Panoptix all-seeing sonar transducers (previously featured in ‘Boat Tech’), so anglers can see real-time sonar imagery at video-like speed. This shows images of moving fish under the boat, even while stationary, in real time, and up to 100ft away. A software update planned for 2018 will also enable the 7″ and 9″ ECHOMAP Plus units to share user and sonar data between devices.
Garmin’s new Striker range is a great complement to their newly launched ECHOMAP Plus. Although it has no true chartplotting facilities as such, it is GPS enabled, providing speed over ground, as well as chart coordinates, and the ability to mark and navigate to waypoints. The Striker provides great in-depth (no pun intended) information about what sits and swims beneath you. Courtesy of ClearVü scanning, detailed fish imaging can be seen at 230ft, traditional CHIRP sonar gives depth readings to 2300ft and CHIRP SideVü images can be seen as far out as 500ft.
Its key feature is Quickdraw Contours, which allows users to create HD fishing maps with 1ft contours as they pass over the seabed. The Striker can store up to 2 million acres of HD fishing maps. With the ActiveCaptain app you can connect to the 7″ and 9″ Striker models via Wi-Fi, enabling software updates and waypoint backup. This also allows the owner to upload/download to and from the Quickdraw community of ‘user-created’ fishing maps.