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Old 03-14-2017, 10:20 PM   #1
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Garmin verses Furuno

Need some opinions - I am finalizing a purchase of a semi-displacement trawler and would like thoughts and experiences regarding the electronics.The standard offering is Garmin 7612xsv, plus basic Garmin autopilot and radar. My experience has been strickly with Furuno chart plotters and Simard autopilots. Trouble free and they have been very useful in my fishing business-fish finding, and challenging weather situations. Would I be "stepping back" by settling with Garmin or do I go with my "heart" and experience and demand Furuno? Thanks for any thoughts and suggestions.
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Old 03-14-2017, 10:33 PM   #2
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Where do you plan to cruise? Will you be inland, near coastal, or bluewater cruising? How many steering stations and how elaborate will they be?

I'm very happy with my Garmin suite and Simrad AP.

Ted
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Old 03-14-2017, 10:34 PM   #3
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Interesting topic.
We just went through the exact same process in choosing an electronics package for our new, about-2-weeks-from-launching American Tug 395.
After a disappointing experience with Raymarine on our last boat (yes, the final iteration of the system worked fine!), I too felt that Furuno was what we wanted in our new boat.
I spoke to a number of installers of electronics leading up to our decision. To a person they all had the same advice, Garmin...
I did not want to hear this and kept doing research and I kept hearing the same thing...
In the end, it was a dealer who sold both products and who knew that I would ultimately purchase the equipment from the installer, who convinced me that for our use Garmin was the answer.
I understand your hesitance but I believe we made a good decision...
Ask me again in about 3 weeks and I'll let you know how it is all working...
Bruce
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Old 03-14-2017, 11:34 PM   #4
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We have Garmin 7212 plotters, Garmin HD radar, Garmin AIS, depth, etc. and Simrad autopilot. We've been very pleased with the Garmin except for two issues. First, Garminseems to be one of the few systems that doesn't have Active Captain, which is strange because their iPad app does. Second, we have had problems getting the route guidance to interface with the autopilot. That's not a real big deal for us because of the way we cruise, but it shouldn't be such a hassle.

Paul
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Old 03-15-2017, 05:15 AM   #5
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There are a lot of very experienced boaters on TF but it would be surprising if any of them have used both the latest offerings from Garmin and Furuno to give you advice on this.

As to the standard offering on your new boat, there are two ways to look at it. One is that the electronics manufacturer gave the boat manufacturer a deal. Since electronics are normally a separately priced option, I would think that is not the case. The other way to look at it is the boat manufacturer wants to install electronics that will best suit the customer and quite frankly, many new boat buyers are inexperienced with marine electronics. If you buy a boat and the electronics do not perform the way they should, the buyer will bad mouth the electronics but the boat manufacturer will get a black eye out of it also.

My experience has been mostly with Garmin and I would be tinkled pink to have a Garmin 7612 in a new boat. If my experience were entirely Furuno, I might feel differently but the research Bruce B did certainly weighs heavily for Garmin and as I recall he sounded out TF prior to making his decision.

Regarding Active Captain, many electronics manufacturers have incorporated it into their chartplotters. I have no experience with that but the essence of Active Captain is it is an active database and needs to be periodically updated. As many of us know, getting wifi at marinas is somewhat like rolling the dice. I would much rather be dependent on getting Active Captain updates on my iPad that on a chartplotter so to me, if AC is not in the Garmin 7612, it would be a no big deal.
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Old 03-15-2017, 05:41 AM   #6
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I have had both and had no issued with either. Garmin is a little friendlier to use but once you learn the Furuno system, it becomes as easy.

IMO, the difference is that Garmin seem to come out with new systems every couple years and no longer support the previous units. Furuno keeps upgrading their existing system for many years (think Vx2) which is nice.

All the commercial guys over here seem to favor Furuno while most pleasure boats I encounter, seem to be Garmin.

FWIW, my new offshore fishing boat will be Furuno. A purely personal choice.
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Old 03-15-2017, 05:52 AM   #7
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I have had both and had no issued with either. Garmin is a little friendlier to use but once you learn the Furuno system, it becomes as easy.

IMO, the difference is that Garmin seem to come out with new systems every couple years and no longer support the previous units. Furuno keeps upgrading their existing system for many years (think Vx2) which is nice.

All the commercial guys over here seem to favor Furuno while most pleasure boats I encounter, seem to be Garmin.

FWIW, my new offshore fishing boat will be Furuno. A purely personal choice.
I had a similar experience with a Garmin MFD being considered obsolete not too long after I installed it. I pulled it and am going with Furuno. If you're not already familiar with this site, Ben does a terrific job evaluating electronics.

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Old 03-15-2017, 06:31 AM   #8
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IMO, the difference is that Garmin seem to come out with new systems every couple years and no longer support the previous units. Furuno keeps upgrading their existing system for many years (think Vx2) which is nice.
I keep hearing that, not sure it's accurate. Certainly, if a manufacturer produces a dud it has a short production life, but they still seem to support software upgrades on their popular legacy MFDs. My 5208 & 5215 touch screen units began in 2007, have been discontinued, but were still covered in the latest software update (12/2016).

Ted
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Old 03-15-2017, 07:36 AM   #9
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There are a lot of very experienced boaters on TF but it would be surprising if any of them have used both the latest offerings from Garmin and Furuno to give you advice on this.

Yep. For example, I can say we've had good success with our Furuno suite, but I couldn't comment on Garmin or most others since we have no hands-on experience with those...

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Old 03-15-2017, 07:59 AM   #10
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Where do you plan to cruise? Will you be inland, near coastal, or bluewater cruising? How many steering stations and how elaborate will they be?

I'm very happy with my Garmin suite and Simrad AP.

Ted
I will be home based in Florida , cruising to Bahamas, Loop,and maybe through the canal up the west coast to Alaska.
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Old 03-15-2017, 08:24 AM   #11
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I keep hearing that, not sure it's accurate. Certainly, if a manufacturer produces a dud it has a short production life, but they still seem to support software upgrades on their popular legacy MFDs. My 5208 & 5215 touch screen units began in 2007, have been discontinued, but were still covered in the latest software update (12/2016).

Ted
I agree with you. Apparently, it's fun to complain about Garmin on web forums just like it's fun to complain about Volvo.

I have the 5208 MFDs and while they are discontinued, there are still software updates available.

The electronics industry moves very fast and Garmin is keeping up with technology in their new products. Better screens, faster processors, more memory, etc. It's just not possible to retrofit these things into ten year old products.

As to which brand is better, it's been said, most of us haven had extensive use of both manufacturer's latest products. We tend to recommend what we are familiar with so in my case that would be Garmin.

Read the specs, play with both at a dealer if possible and then make your choice. Either is going to work well.
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Old 03-15-2017, 08:39 AM   #12
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with modern electronic offerings , you probably won't go wrong no matter who you go with. I don't think anybody today makes "bad" electronics.
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Old 03-15-2017, 10:12 AM   #13
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I will be home based in Florida , cruising to Bahamas, Loop,and maybe through the canal up the west coast to Alaska.
Based on your cruising, I would take a look at chart options for the MFDs. Most all are good in the USA, elsewhere it may get more challenging.

For me with that agenda, I would be looking very hard at the proposed radar antennas. IMO, offshore cruising in remote areas requires a better radar than cruising the loop. One of the nice features about Garmin was the ability to add their latest technology radar to my 8 year old technology MFDs simply by installing the new antenna and updating the software. Really like the dual range display when traveling at night, in the fog, or rain.

Ted
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Old 03-15-2017, 10:47 AM   #14
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... Really like the dual range display when traveling at night, in the fog, or rain.

Ted
This brings up one of the conundrums of shopping for electronics.
I've spent my share of time behind a radar screen and I understand that some of these features that new electronics will be nice but how do you really understand the impact of multiple radar images at the same time without actually experiencing it?
Looking forward to trying it out.
Bruce
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Old 03-15-2017, 10:48 AM   #15
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Asking which is better Garmin or Furuno is like asking if you should by a new Ford or a Dodge pickup truck.

Get what you like.

I like Furuno gear, but that what I have.

If I were to get some face time with Garmins offerings I'd probably love that as well.

I also own ford and dodge pickups. Wouldnt own a Chevy, and have zero rational thought behind that feeling.

Be wary listening to the advice of installers. Remember that many of them install the gear, set it up and then never really operate it day to day. Yes they all have opinions but those opinions are largely based on their installation experience and the startup related issues they have encountered.
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Old 03-15-2017, 11:25 AM   #16
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Angus 99 suggests reading Ben's comments on Panbo.

A few random thoughts:
  • Insure a rational configuration logic
  • Any perceived brand name advantage quickly melts away with a good vs bad install.
  • Don't forget bright light viewable screens are not cheap, a different screen choice can sway cost comparisons.
  • If you are going to use (I do) a laptop based plotting program insure overall system compatibility.
What boat are you buying? A good boat builder may not be a good instrument installer.
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Old 03-15-2017, 11:56 AM   #17
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This brings up one of the conundrums of shopping for electronics.
I've spent my share of time behind a radar screen and I understand that some of these features that new electronics will be nice but how do you really understand the impact of multiple radar images at the same time without actually experiencing it?
Looking forward to trying it out.
Bruce
On the dual range subject, for me, being able to zoom in for the best viewing range in challenging areas and having a larger range to see the whole picture including new moving targets before they're at close range, is a game changer!

I can't imagine spending that kind of money on something without playing with it first. Even if you're only tied to the dock, you should be able to see the displays, play with most of the features, and see how user friendly it is. At the very least, I would find a demo unit at a dealer or show to play with. If I were buying a suite of new stuff, at the very least, I would invest a few hours at the manufacturers booth at a trade show.

While it's important to have confidence in your boat builder, I want my electronics optimized for my use. Maybe if you're a fisherman you want the latest side scan bottom profiler. Why would you want to find out later that your MFD doesn't support that technology?

Ted
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Old 03-15-2017, 12:43 PM   #18
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...Be wary listening to the advice of installers. Remember that many of them install the gear, set it up and then never really operate it day to day. Yes they all have opinions but those opinions are largely based on their installation experience and the startup related issues they have encountered.
That is exactly what I said!
The problem was that I found installer after installer, some of whom I really respect who had the exact same message.
It annoyed me actually and for some time actually pushed me away from Garmin. In the end... I came around!

Quote:
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On the dual range subject, for me, being able to zoom in for the best viewing range in challenging areas and having a larger range to see the whole picture including new moving targets before they're at close range, is a game changer!

I can't imagine spending that kind of money on something without playing with it first. Even if you're only tied to the dock, you should be able to see the displays, play with most of the features, and see how user friendly it is. At the very least, I would find a demo unit at a dealer or show to play with. If I were buying a suite of new stuff, at the very least, I would invest a few hours at the manufacturers booth at a trade show.

While it's important to have confidence in your boat builder, I want my electronics optimized for my use. Maybe if you're a fisherman you want the latest side scan bottom profiler. Why would you want to find out later that your MFD doesn't support that technology?

Ted
I spent hours playing with the Garmin 8617 display in demo mode at West Marine. They would laugh at me when I showed up...
One problem with the Furuno TZT, my first choice, was that I couldn't find one to try. There were good videos made by Furuno that gave me the feel of the software but that was all.
In the end, the more I played with the Garmin equipment the better I liked it...

Bruce
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Old 03-15-2017, 12:55 PM   #19
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I spent hours playing with the Garmin 8617 display in demo mode at West Marine. They would laugh at me when I showed up...
One problem with the Furuno TZT, my first choice, was that I couldn't find one to try. There were good videos made by Furuno that gave me the feel of the software but that was all.
In the end, the more I played with the Garmin equipment the better I liked it...

Bruce
No wonder. WM coats there displays with a magic dust that's part endorphin, part aphrodisiac, and part cocaine.

Ted
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Old 03-15-2017, 02:01 PM   #20
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No wonder. WM coats there displays with a magic dust that's part endorphin, part aphrodisiac, and part cocaine.

Ted
That explains things!
Bruce
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