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Handheld GPS Opinions

I've been using the same handheld for 4yrs... Garmin76csx & it has served me well(but there might be better performing / value ones out there since I haven't had need to keep up with the market). Friend of mine asked for help toward a Christmas present decision. Budget is under $350 & coastal inshore fishing is his need. He is hoping that he can interface the handheld with his PC and a mapping software app. Need info & opinions. Thanks!
~ Captain Paul's response to: ~ LAFFLY GUY ~

The Garmin GPSMAP 76csx is a very nice GPS receiver. It has Garmin’s latest GPS chip as the basis for the system. Sticking with a GPSMAP 76CSX or even a GPSMAP 76 CX ( no compass and altimeter) would allow you to stay within your budgeted price WITHOUT the supplemental mapping software. For that, I suggest that you first consider the GARMIN US TOPO 100K. The 100K is a topo based software that has 100,000 scale topo type maps of the entire U.S. It is one of Garmin’s latest TOPO mapping program. The GPSMAP 76CX system uses a very accurate and fast GPS receiver as the basis of its operation.

Garmin however has three new lines that they call the Dakota, Oregon and Colorado. The Colorado uses a button pressing system while the Oregon uses a touch screen system. The Dakota is being billed as an entry level unit.

The all can be purchased with a preload mapping feature. The “C” designation indicates that it has preloaded Marine Charts; the “T” designation indicates that it is preloaded with Topographical maps.

I personally don’t like some of the features of the top end in each of the models, such as the games and camera features, but they may appeal to some users.

By having the unit with preloaded with topo maps, you would almost most of the necessary mapping you would need for the Coastal Inshore fishing you mentioned.

By getting a preloaded unit, you will not have to spend additional money on supplemental mapping software. The “Base map” that comes with some of these units, is just that, a Basic Map. Normally, base maps do not show all of the details that a supplemental mapping program will show. A supplemental mapping program is almost an necessity for fishing the Louisiana Coastal marshes.

When ordering, get the MapSource Trip and Waypoint Manager software and a 12 volt external power cable for the unit. The cable will save you money in replacement batteries and the Trip and Waypoint software will allow you to have the unit communicate with a computer. The Trip software allows you to transfer data between your Garmin GPS unit and a computer. It will save you countless hours in installing waypoints, tracks and routes in your unit. By arching this same to the computer from the GPS unit, you will have a back up of all of your precious waypoints.

The Lowracne H2O is another decent unit. It comes loaded with a base map and would need the supplemental mapping program to provide you with the details necessary to fish the marshes.

Although the case and software is different, I believe that they both use the same “silicon valley” GPS receiver chip as the basis for the different systems.

~ Captain Paul ~

West Marine
West Marine has a sale on GPS systems and fishfinders. You can get a Garmin Oregon, Colorado, or Map 76csx for 299.99.
I found the best deal on the internet.
XOG Lowarance
I have an XOG and I have used the H2O made by Lowarance. I have the map upgrade card and use mine everywhere I go on the water. xog has internal battery and can only recharge with either a usb that connects to your pc or 12v car charger. The H2O takes 4 AA batteries and also uses a 12v car charger. you can download maps on a sd card and use them in both GPS.