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Old 26 April 2011, 19:15   #1
Country: USA
Town: Traverse city
Make: Formenti ZAR 53
Length: 5m +
Engine: Suzuki 140
Join Date: Apr 2011
Posts: 10
Lowrance elite 5 vs. raymarine A50D combo vs. Garmin

Hi RIB net,

I just bought a RIb and am looking for a chart plotter/fish finder combo for it. It will be used on lake michigan. I have zoned in on the 3 stated (can't remember the garmin equal of those). It will be used for fishing and then some journeys of longer distance so nothing top notch is needed however quality and functionality is what I'm looking for. Price range not over 700 or so preferably, however I will most likely buy used for cheaper

Do any of you have experience with these?

Which one has the best preloaded maps?

Which one is the best value for money? (I do not need a $10,000 chart plotter that will pour my beer for me.)


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Old 27 April 2011, 04:49   #2
Channel Ribs's Avatar
Country: UK - Channel Islands
Town: Alderney
Length: no boat
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 3,047
The Garmin 551S, or high-res version the 556S (numbers might be slightly different for the US versions).

Comparing that to the Lowrance is going to be a fairly flat field for cost, the difference for me is in ease of use versus quality of sonar image. The Garmin being the clever design and the Lowrance having better images.

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Old 27 April 2011, 10:42   #3
Country: USA
Town: Oakland CA
Length: 3m +
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 6,653
I *think* the new Garmins are coming with the basemaps kicked up to the Bluechart level. Not sure how the activation works now, if there is any (used to be you buy the entire library, plus an unlock code for each region.)

The Lowrance units come with OK maps for the marine regions; don't know how they are for inland areas. Pretty easy to buy and install a Navionics chart or similar for your area, which gives you really good charting (this probably applis to any unit you pick up - not limited to Lowrance.)

Don't know a whole lot about Raymarine, except that they're fairly expensive.

The thing I like about the new Lowrance units (which may ultimately get me to upgrade to one of the new HDS units) is the plug-in broadband radar. Supposedly excellent short-range performance with emission levels lower than a cell phone. That would be really nice to have.

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