We have compiled a list of the best gps chartplotters of 2019. Thank you for stumbling across our article, we hope you find it useful. BOE Marine is all about matching up the right units to our customers, so be sure to call us for a one on one consultation to discover which unit would suit you best.
The main brands we'll discuss are Garmin, Simrad, Lowrance, and Raymarine. There are a handful of other brands available that we carry, but they do not have the popularity of these brands. Several years ago touch screen gps chartplotter and fishfinder combo were made available and were all the rage for a while. But soon manufacturers realized people still liked their buttons. So there are now units available in either touchscreen configuration, or with buttons, or a combination of both. You can basically get any technology offered by any of these brands, in any screen size, with eiher touch, buttons, or both. They all go about it a little differently. We'll review that below when we get into each brand.
All of these units are also offered in various performance levels. For example, with Garmin, you can get a basic chartplotter for little money. As the price goes up among their tiers of units you'll see features added like internal sonar, side imaging, radar, wifi, higher resolution screens, and faster processors. So you can get a basic 9" screen for close to $500, or you can get their best 9" unit for $2,700. They will both act as a chartplotter just fine, but if you want more elaborate features listed above then you'll need to pay attention to what the various tiers offer as the price goes up. When screen size is mentioned for units this is the diagonal dimension of the screen.
Here are some common things to look for as price increases:
- NMEA2000 - most units come with NMEA2000 nowadays, no matter what teir, but there are still some of the most basic units that don't have it like the Simrad Cruise series
- Internal GPS antenna - very common on just about every modern display
- Network Capable - can the unit communicate with "like" units to share things like waypoints, sonar, and data
- Radar Capable - can the unit accept a radar antenna
- Internal Sonar - does the unit have an internal sonar system so you can connect a transducer right to it
- Sonar Features - pay attention to various sonar features, some units will only do basic sonar while others will do Side Imaging, Forward Imaging, Live sonar views and more
- Processor speed - just like your home computer, the internal processor controls how fast or slow these systems operate. An easy place to check out speed is to zoom in or out on the chart screen to see how fast charts load
- Screen resolution - the most basic displays have low resolution while the most expensive generally have bright and crisp displays with high resolution
- Touch screen vs buttons - units with touchscreen capability generally cost more than their button counterparts
- Wifi enabled - usefull for software updates or sync'ing to phone apps
So here are our picks for 2019
Best small boat chartplotter "on a budget" - Simrad Cruise Series - The Simrad Cruise Series is incredibly simple. It shares a similar user keyed interface to Simrad's most sophisticaed equipment, has internal gps, internal sonar, includes a transom mounted transducer, has pre-loaded coastal maps, and is incredibly inexpensive for the size screens offered. Comes in 5", 7", and 9"
Best small boat chartplotter "w/most features" - Garmin Echomap Series - These units come from 6" all the way to 12". They feature a hibrid touchscreen and keyed interface. What makes them so special is they utilize the same chartplotter functions as Garmin's most expensive units. By far, the best chartplotters available. With Garmin's Vision maps they can do autoguidance. There are varous sonar options built into these units as well should you need sonar capability.
Best small boat chartplotter/sonar combo unit - Lowrance Elite Ti2 Series - If you are into fishing and need sonar then the Elite Ti2 will be best. These units feature high resolution maps, powerful internal sonar, a hybrid touch setup with touch as well as buttons, internal gps, and wifi networking. Sizes include 7', 9", and 12".
Best medium sized boat chartplotter - Raymarine Axiom / Axiom Pro - When bought with the appropriate transducer combo the Raymarine Axiom series can be a phenominal addition to any boat. Axiom is touchscreen, Axiom Pro is a hybrid of touch and buttons. Internal sonar, Real Vision, Radar and FLIR integration are just some of the capabilities. Charting is a breeze, and Raymarine makes great use of external ipad apps to make planning at home simple. These come in sizes from 7" to 19"
Best medium sized boat chartplotter/sonar combo - Lowrance HDS LIVE - Lowrance's flagship series, offers everything an angler could want. Preloaded with coastal and lake maps, dual channel CHIRP sonar, side imaging, Livesight, hybrid touchscreen and button interface, wifi and more. These units are very capable. Available in 7", 9", 12" and 16"
Best large boat chartplotter - Garmin 1000 Series or 8600 Series - Garmin is the king for chartplotter functionality. Their sonars are no slouch either, in fact their new Livescope is redefining what a system can do. But they offer the best chartplotter which lands them in this spot as the best chartplotters available for large boats. Friendly cruising features, bright and hi resolution displays, superior autopilot integration and more. Available in a variety of ways in either touchscreen or keyed versions from 7" to 24".
Garmin 1000 Series or 8600 Series
Best large boat chartplotter/sonar combo - Simrad NSS Evo3 - Regarded by many is the best platform for offshore fishing. can utilize any of Airmar's popular CHIRP transducers. A combination of buttons and touch make them easy to use. Sirius weather capability, wifi, radar, video and more make them easy to integrate into any boat. Available in 7", 9", 12",16", 19", 24"