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Old 05-17-2017, 12:09 PM   #1
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Garmin vs Simrad

This has been discussed before but here's an update on deciding what to get.

Goal is an upper and lower chart plotter, sonar, forward sonar and autopilot... and perhaps radar later.

What I'm seeing with Simrad:
The design of their new MFDs, especially the Evo3 and more intuitive and more flexible than Garmin, and with knob control they seem faster.
I have an option to enlarge the characters on the Simrad, so I can read them when bouncing around in rough water.
Simrads tech support is still painfully slow, but they do return calls. (but this is a busy time for all, and Garmin is also slow).
Simrads warranty and replacement time is a crap shoot and can take up to 3 weeks, which is slow. And after the warranty is over the cost is 50% of the list price of the unit to fix! (Have friends than have dealt with this).
Simrads sonar and autopilot seem superior, based on tech support, sales and users.
Simrads package is about $2000 cheaper.
Big issue: lack of reasonable and good support

What I'm seeing with Garmin
Still excellent support
Still stuck with one chart source, but it's very good. However, they have dumbed it down, and have taken the identifying numbers off the channel markers! (However, they put them back as an option, in the latest update).
There is no way to enlarge the numbers on the chart so the only way I can quickly tell that shallow water is close is to have the low water numbers show up in red, which is a nice feature that Simrad doesn't do a good job with.
I love the auto routing (which Simrad doesn't have), but would like an option to tell it to run the inter coastal instead of it usually directing off shore.
I discussed warranty at length with a tech and still good service 7 to 10 day turn on in or out of warranty.
Big issue: The numbers and characters on the chart are just too small.

Warranty Issues
Both give a 2 yr warranty
Both say they can turn a unit in 7 to 10 days, but Simrad has had issue with this before so not a good track record (friends experience).
Simrad offers and extended warranty which Garmin does not, but expensive at $175 a year vs. Garminís $550 (IF you need it).
Both have a option to get a replacement unit shipped right away, but Simrad requires you to have the original unit installed by a certified installer, and Garmin does not.
Out of warranty: Simrad will charge a flat rate of one half the price of the unit! So thatís $1750 to fix a 12Ē Evo 3 unit. But at that flat rate, you can get a new unit (if one is available). Garmins flat rate is $550.


========

I really would like to try the Simrad, and probably will, for a few BIG reasons to me. First is I can read the characters, and just tired of squinting to see them on my Garmins. Also, the new Evo screen is a fair amount easier to use and set up than the Garmin, and the display is really bright and clear. And Iím impressed with the Forward scan that Simrad has, which is the cheapest on the market. Saw a photo of the actual display taken in the same water I boat in and it was crystal clear. From comment here, I suspect the Echo Pilot is a better unit, but 4 times the price.

Comments?
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Old 05-17-2017, 12:23 PM   #2
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We've had a Simrad system on board Blue Sky since early 2013. NSE12 MFD, auto pilot, Structurescan, 4G radar.

Really like the display, which uses navionics, my preferred chart system.

The structurescan is okay but should be used as an entertainment tool rather than a proper depthsounder. (Only goes to 350' and has been somewhat intermittent)

The Broadband 4G radar is good up to about 15 miles, which suits us perfectly for where we cruise. Great images, but short on some features like leaving trails on targets (it doesn't) or holding a northup heading (it always default to heading up)

No problems other than the missing features.

Our vessel came with a Garmin 2010C system which we had to remove as we couldn't get charts for it any more, which was a big downside.
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Old 05-17-2017, 01:04 PM   #3
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I spent a lot of money to install Simrad on my boat. 6 months later I spent a lot of money to remove it all. There was a long list of things that did not operate as advertised, and Simrad was unable to fix any of them, or even provide a plan, commitment, or date to fix any of them.

It's coming up on three years now, and I don't believe a single one of the reported issues have been fixed. So I would not buy Simrad, and hence would go with Garmin.
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Old 05-17-2017, 02:45 PM   #4
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My customer service experience with Simrad was very poor. I will not be installing any new products from them.
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Old 05-17-2017, 05:05 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twistedtree View Post
I spent a lot of money to install Simrad on my boat. 6 months later I spent a lot of money to remove it all. There was a long list of things that did not operate as advertised, and Simrad was unable to fix any of them, or even provide a plan, commitment, or date to fix any of them.

It's coming up on three years now, and I don't believe a single one of the reported issues have been fixed. So I would not buy Simrad, and hence would go with Garmin.
And my experience was just the opposite. Installed a full suite of Simrad components. Plug and play, no glitches, all work just fine.
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Old 05-17-2017, 05:49 PM   #6
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We have experienced a couple of glitches with the Garmin suite installed on our new boat and; Garmin customer service is incredibly easy to contact. They quickly determined that the issue was a new faulty component. That component was replaced instantly.
I'm sold on the customer service side! Huge improvement over my experience with Raymarine...
The gear is easy to use and works well. I'd say it has exceeded my expectations.
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Old 05-17-2017, 06:27 PM   #7
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Customer Service will win me over every time.
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Old 05-17-2017, 06:41 PM   #8
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I've had a Simrad, two Garmins and now Raymarine on my boats. I like the Garmins and I'd probably stick with them on the two Boston Whalers their system is on.


The bigger boat has a Raymarine setup (GPS Plotter/radar) and I like it. It's maybe not quite as user friendly and intuitive as the Garmin, but I like it.


I'd probably not buy a Simrad system again. There were some issues with it that I was able to address with their software engineers that I understand they have now fixed, but IMHO they should have fixed those issues before they released it.
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Old 05-17-2017, 06:45 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by GFC View Post
I've had a Simrad, two Garmins and now Raymarine on my boats. I like the Garmins and I'd probably stick with them on the two Boston Whalers their system is on.


The bigger boat has a Raymarine setup (GPS Plotter/radar) and I like it. It's maybe not quite as user friendly and intuitive as the Garmin, but I like it.


I'd probably not buy a Simrad system again. There were some issues with it that I was able to address with their software engineers that I understand they have now fixed, but IMHO they should have fixed those issues before they released it.
My preference is Furuno. However, one place we've seen Garmin really excel is Inland lakes and rivers. For most, that isn't an issue, but may be valuable to some.
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Old 05-17-2017, 06:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GFC View Post
I've had a Simrad, two Garmins and now Raymarine on my boats. I like the Garmins and I'd probably stick with them on the two Boston Whalers their system is on.

The bigger boat has a Raymarine setup (GPS Plotter/radar) and I like it. It's maybe not quite as user friendly and intuitive as the Garmin, but I like it.

I'd probably not buy a Simrad system again. There were some issues with it that I was able to address with their software engineers that I understand they have now fixed, but IMHO they should have fixed those issues before they released it.
Fixed before issued? I understand the frustration including that of twistedtree. If Simrad had known of the issues they would have been fixed beforehand. Software development requires extensive testing. The problem is that the testers must try, note the word try, to imagine every possible permutation of the use of the software driving a system. It is literally impossible to deploy new softwar free of bugs. Invariably, when new software is deployed "bugs" are encountered and through user feedback the bugs are corrected. My guess is that twistedtree was an early adopter; hence, more unidentified bugs. I came along much later after the bugs were fixed. No problems. It seems so simple but it is not.
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Old 05-17-2017, 07:02 PM   #11
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Contacting Garmin USA direct over a Garmin Australia lack of service(and worse) produced instant results. Garmin Australia were immediately as helpful as they should have been. Even at this distance I would vouch for the USA standards of service. The Aussie one not so much,unless applying an electrified cattle prod.
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Old 05-17-2017, 07:24 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by catalinajack View Post
Fixed before issued? I understand the frustration including that of twistedtree. If Simrad had known of the issues they would have been fixed beforehand. Software development requires extensive testing. The problem is that the testers must try, note the word try, to imagine every possible permutation of the use of the software driving a system. It is literally impossible to deploy new softwar free of bugs. Invariably, when new software is deployed "bugs" are encountered and through user feedback the bugs are corrected. My guess is that twistedtree was an early adopter; hence, more unidentified bugs. I came along much later after the bugs were fixed. No problems. It seems so simple but it is not.

All the products I was using had been out for at least a year, and many of them had been out for several years. If you read many user accounts of Simrad products, you will quickly conclude that they rush products to market, often with significant known issues and promises to fix them "soon". And there have been several instances of updates that break basic functionality, don't work with some of the current transducers, etc. They are clearly more interested in selling new stuff rather than cleaning up issues with existing products. But if their stuff works in your configuration and for your use, it is nicely done. It's just a crap shoot whether it will do what you need/expect.

I certainly agree that all products have bugs, but some have more than others, and some companies place more value on product quality before it's sold, where others place more emphasis on time to market.

If Simrad had been able to give me a plan to fix the issues, I probably would have stuck with them. But their priorities were elsewhere, and continue to be. And by the way "we aren't going to fix it" is often an acceptable answer. I had sorted the problems into nuisances, important things to fix but not urgent, and things that needed to be fixed before I'd go to sea. As best I can tell, all these issues still exist in the current products since none of them have had updates except the MFDs.
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Old 05-17-2017, 07:29 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by catalinajack View Post
Software development requires extensive testing. The problem is that the testers must try, note the word try, to imagine every possible permutation of the use of the software driving a system. It is literally impossible to deploy new softwar free of bugs. Invariably, when new software is deployed "bugs" are encountered and through user feedback the bugs are corrected. .
I know that is the conventional wisdom, but I strongly disagree with the statement that it's impossible to deploy new software free of bugs. We developed software internally all the time and I didn't accept bugs so didn't have them. We did do extensive "rainy day" testing. I was considered a pro at breaking a system. Perhaps it's a warped mind that helps. For someone building software for the public, in addition to the testing they can always have some beta users. The key is the testing. One of the favorites I remember was pre-testing several of us were around the computer with it being demonstrated. I simply said enter a negative number in that field. The response was "no one would ever enter negative." I said, "Oh, someone will so do it." Needless to say that didn't work out well.

Just like on a retail software nothing can destroy it as quickly as poor testing and bugs, when implementing software in a business, nothing can lose the users faster than bugs and their opinion of the software will be largely based on the first day of use.

Now, your comment and the practices of many companies are the reason I will never be a first user. Typically, I want a product that has been out at least 6 months. I'll let the other purchasers be their beta users and sort out the problems. Even something as simple as a cell phone, I want to see at least a month worth of reviews. Apple has had a recent history of not quite ready new phones and releasing software updates after a short period.
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Old 05-17-2017, 08:25 PM   #14
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Tried to buy Simrad R2009 display and 4G radar earlier this year. After 2-1/2 months of broken delivery promises, just bald faced lies of when it would ship, I finally gave up and bought Furuno. I'm not going to deal with a company with that level of customer service.
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Old 05-17-2017, 08:36 PM   #15
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I have all Garmin and love it.
My friend is a Simrad guy.
He has 2 new in the box NSS evo2 12" units for sale.
$4500 obo for both
I would have tried them but just installed the new Garmin.
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Old 05-17-2017, 09:22 PM   #16
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Customer Service will win me over every time.
Me too, and we have had great experience with Garmin. There are certainly things about their products that I would change, but the customer service compensates for lots of negatives.
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Old 05-17-2017, 09:37 PM   #17
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Three years ago I bought a new boat after have my old one 22 years. I check out all the various companies and decided that I wanted the same name on the plotter, radar, depth finder, ect so they would talk to each other (yeah I know that shouldn't be a problem today).

After deciding I liked Garmin the best (probably because I was familiar with them) I then went to my dealer that I've used for more than 40 years and got his opinions as he sells all the various brands and has his own techs to do repairs. He said Garmin and I told him to do the installation. Damn I was smart to do that.
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Old 05-17-2017, 10:05 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seevee View Post
This has been discussed before but here's an update on deciding what to get.

Goal is an upper and lower chart plotter, sonar, forward sonar and autopilot... and perhaps radar later.

What I'm seeing with Simrad:
The design of their new MFDs, especially the Evo3 and more intuitive and more flexible than Garmin, and with knob control they seem faster.
I have an option to enlarge the characters on the Simrad, so I can read them when bouncing around in rough water.
Simrads tech support is still painfully slow, but they do return calls. (but this is a busy time for all, and Garmin is also slow).
Simrads warranty and replacement time is a crap shoot and can take up to 3 weeks, which is slow. And after the warranty is over the cost is 50% of the list price of the unit to fix! (Have friends than have dealt with this).
Simrads sonar and autopilot seem superior, based on tech support, sales and users.
Simrads package is about $2000 cheaper.
Big issue: lack of reasonable and good support

What I'm seeing with Garmin
Still excellent support
Still stuck with one chart source, but it's very good. However, they have dumbed it down, and have taken the identifying numbers off the channel markers! (However, they put them back as an option, in the latest update).
There is no way to enlarge the numbers on the chart so the only way I can quickly tell that shallow water is close is to have the low water numbers show up in red, which is a nice feature that Simrad doesn't do a good job with.
I love the auto routing (which Simrad doesn't have), but would like an option to tell it to run the inter coastal instead of it usually directing off shore.
I discussed warranty at length with a tech and still good service 7 to 10 day turn on in or out of warranty.
Big issue: The numbers and characters on the chart are just too small.

Warranty Issues
Both give a 2 yr warranty
Both say they can turn a unit in 7 to 10 days, but Simrad has had issue with this before so not a good track record (friends experience).
Simrad offers and extended warranty which Garmin does not, but expensive at $175 a year vs. Garminís $550 (IF you need it).
Both have a option to get a replacement unit shipped right away, but Simrad requires you to have the original unit installed by a certified installer, and Garmin does not.
Out of warranty: Simrad will charge a flat rate of one half the price of the unit! So thatís $1750 to fix a 12Ē Evo 3 unit. But at that flat rate, you can get a new unit (if one is available). Garmins flat rate is $550.


========

I really would like to try the Simrad, and probably will, for a few BIG reasons to me. First is I can read the characters, and just tired of squinting to see them on my Garmins. Also, the new Evo screen is a fair amount easier to use and set up than the Garmin, and the display is really bright and clear. And Iím impressed with the Forward scan that Simrad has, which is the cheapest on the market. Saw a photo of the actual display taken in the same water I boat in and it was crystal clear. From comment here, I suspect the Echo Pilot is a better unit, but 4 times the price.

Comments?
One caution on Simrad is that when they bring out a new product, they may toss all spare parts, effectively forcing you to buy their new product if you have a problem. This happened to me 3 years after purchasing one of their rather expensive radar units. It refused to turn on and when I called Simrad I was told that even though it had been purchased fairly recently, there were no longer any spares available. I connected with a tech support person at Koden looking for a solution, who said he used to work for Simrad and had seen them simply round can all spare parts for older units when they brought out a new one. Thankfully, I found that if I did a hard reboot of the unit I could get my unit to light up. A pain, but better than buying a new system.

I have no experience with Garmin, but I would never, ever buy another Simrad product again.
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Old 05-18-2017, 12:31 AM   #19
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On the topic of creating "bug free" software: For single applications it is somewhat easier to test and ensure that it operates correctly. Once you start networking devices, transducers, etc, it becomes more complicated and harder to test. When you get to "standards" such as NMEA 2000 you can find that there are ambiguities that different manufacturers interpret differently. Stuff can end up breaking and no one will take responsibility - each claiming their implementation is correct. As the complexity of our boat systems continues to increase so does the opportunity for defects to creep in.

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Old 05-18-2017, 07:09 AM   #20
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I'm not a fan of Navico (Lowrance/Simrad/B&G) gear, especially for larger boats.

In order, I'd go Raymarine, then Furuno, then Garmin. Garmin is last due to its proprietary charting systems, and limited support for its legacy gear.

Furuno is great gear, but spendy and not very intuitive.

Raymarine is easy to use, has cutting edge technology, uses freeware charts as well as Navionics, and is simple to integrate.
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