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CaptSeaweed

Lowrance Vs Garmin

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Geocaching newbie here - I've got some experience using a Raymarine GPS/Chartplotter on my boat, but now I'd like to get a new handheld unit. the new unit will be used as backup when boating, geocaching - cause it souds like a lot of fun and some car routing as required.

 

I've been looking at the Lowrance ifinder H2Ocplus and the Garmin 60cs. big difference in price - however I'm more interested in getting the better of the 2 units - cost is not the big issue here.

 

It seems to me that the Lowrance effectively comes with a CD to download maps while the additional maps must be purchased with the Garmin unit. also, Garmin seems to be more popular than Lowrance - however that could be due to marketing.

 

Any comments that would help me make an infomred decision as to which one to purchase?

 

TIA,

CaptSeaweed

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Lowrance has been gaining ground in the GPS market. They are essentially a johnny come lately who seems to be doing everthing right in the consumer handheld GPS department.

 

Garmin has been around in that arena longer. When I started caching I don't think I could even find a Lowrance to buy if I wanted one though I'm sure they had some kind of GPS out even then.

 

Lowrance is also pretty good in the bang for the buck department.

 

As for use and the like. I've got no direct experience to compare the two.

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People tend to recommend what they are familiar with as long as it works well for them. As for me, the 60cs works really well. It does all I ask it to do and then some. The 60cs is color-I think Lowrance is going to come out with color very soon. A lot of people don't realize teh value of color until they use one. It really adds to the experience.

 

There is a user here--IVxIV I think is his name, that swears by Lowrance units. He has good knowledge of them and can tell you their strong points.

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I do own a Legend C and just added an iFinder GO as a backup unit.

 

OK these units are a different class - a $250 routing and mapping color unit with interface against $70 b/w, base map.

 

Given that I was surprised how well the newer (?) 16 channel chip set performs against the older (?) 12 channel one. But of course satellite count and time-to-fix is not all you need for good navigation, the slower processor with slower updates will put both devices to the same level for GZ location.

 

I dont like the GO's screen design, which makes things tiny and hardly readable.

The GO's slower processor gives you longer battery life.

 

So what is it: The GO outperforms the Geko 101, with some of the hidden features even outperforms the eTrex yellow. But if you need a cool p enlargement unit you are still better off at prices beyond $200.

 

BTW: The GO does not have a rubber ring, which will fall off as soon as you apply gravity.

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The ifinder H2Ocplus has a memory card which is great for allowing the extra storage of maps and other data but the only way to get data into the unit is to remove the batteries, pull out the card and use the card reader. ;)

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The ifinder H2Ocplus has a memory card which is great for allowing the extra storage of maps and other data but the only way to get data into the unit is to remove the batteries, pull out the card and use the card reader.  :lol:

 

That's the main downside to the H2O as I see it. It's not a huge big deal, but it would have been very nice if Lowrance would have included the ability to update waypoints without the card reader. Serial is fast enough for that sort of thing. Maybe it does? The GO wasn't supposed to support waypoint uploads, but people found a way to get it to work.........

Edited by kb7sei

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Reality & relevance check.

 

Clear away some misinformation first:

 

- The OP asked to compare a Lowrance H2OC to the Garmin 60CS. Comparisons to Geko, Go, Legends, etc are not especially relevant.

 

- Lowrance Electronics has been in business since 1957, and has been selling GPSRs since 1991. They've racked up an impressive number of "firsts" in consumer grade GPSRs since then http://www.lowrance.com/Company/history.asp

 

To answer the OP:

 

Both the H2OC and the Garmin 60CS will work equally well for finding your position - the core feature of a GPS. Both have high quality color screens, built-in basemaps, and available street-level and topo maps.

 

The advantages of the Garmin are probably size (it's small, light, fits nicely in the hand), user interface, and a wider market base (for peer support). Available mapping software is more up to date, and the autorouting features are good. Extra features like the compass, barameter, etc, don't impress me but some people like them. Biggest downside is a fixed/limited amount of memory, which may only be a problem if you travel often and widely enough that you have to swap out map regions.

 

The advantages of the Lowrance H2OC are: Price (Lowrance is almost always a price-beater for a given feature set) and the expandable memory using inexpensive MMC or SD cards. Some people may find it inconvenient that you have to remove the data card to upload/download data to you computer. This doesn't strike me as too difficult, but some people would rather transfer data by (cable or bluetooth). The real downsides to the Lowrance are pretty much the flip-side of Garmins advantages: Bulky instead of svelte, outdated map software, no auto-routing.

 

I recently bought a Lowrance H2O (not color) made my choice on features I really needed and staying within a tight budget. If price had been less of a concern I probably would have bought the Garmin Map 60 or Map 60cs.

Edited by lee_rimar

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I've been looking at the Lowrance ifinder H2Ocplus and the Garmin 60cs. big difference in price - however I'm more interested in getting the better of the 2 units - cost is not the big issue here.

 

I've used both. The H20 is a very good unit. The 60CS is also a very good unit. If someone held a gun to my head and told me I had to choose one unit between the two I'd go with the 60CS in a minute. It has a lot more features. The autorouting alone with the City Select software is worth it and the user interface and ergonomics of the 60CS are far superior.

 

But if price comes into play and if you have no interest in the autorouting feature of the 60CS, then the H20 is a very attractive unit. It does get better reception than the 60CS and has expandable memory, which (depending on your needs) can be a benefit. The H20 Plus package is one of the best bargains in GPS units around. .

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If you are:

 

Making maps - Updating the topo maps

Lowrance is better than a Garmin. Track & waypoit storage is much better than Garmin or Magellan. There is so much extra storage, that I've been able to essentially UPGRADE the MapCreate 6.3 topo maps. I'm at 30,000 trackpoints, and I'm not even 1/2 way full on my GPS's capabilities.

 

I'm primarily map making, and boonie bashing. Storage is 'everything' for my particular environment. That is why I went with Lowrance.

 

Boonie Bashing with Map Upgrades

If you are just boonie bashing, both GPS's are close to equal. The Topo maps show most of the roads around here without much issues. The Lowrance maps are out of date, and I do see some highway streaches that do not show on the maps. So Garmin wins here, assuming their maps are more up to date. For me, dirtbiking, the roads on both GPS's would be the same.

 

If you are primarily boonie bashing, autorouting is not all that important. Most of the roads in the boonies will not show up in the topo map upgrades, therefor I would suspect that autorouting in the boonies would not work very well.

 

City and Street Navigating

The Lowrance topo version also contains city / street / busiess address directory info. I was able to punch in a street name, and the GPS was able to guide me to where I wanted to go. Same is also true for a business, the gps would be able to guide me there, and will tell me the busness's phone number.

 

But lowrance is not in the 'turn by turn' format that garmin does with its autoroute software. So Garmin wins on this regard.

 

If you are primarily doing city navigation, the autorouting would be handy, and that would make me go with a garmin gps.

 

Traveling Place to Place without having to re-load maps.

I have a 400 MB topo map loaded in my GPS on the SD card. As you navigate, it reads the info from the topomap on the SD card to show the enhanced detail. That stores around 2 complete provinces no problem. I'd have to travel quite a distance before I'd have to re-load load a new topo map onto the gps.

 

Boating and Navigation Charts

Lowrance boat charts are quite well done. They come from a Marine navigation & Avionics background, so their boat charts are probably as good or better than Garmin. Lots of lake bottom enhancements on the website.

 

Planning a trip to Europe or Iraq?

Garmin wins. No map upgrades for these areas available.

 

In summary I would look at it this way

Making your own maps / Boonies / Boating / Bang for the Buck - Lowrance

Autoroute City Navigation / Boating - Garmin

 

Kindest Regards,

---- Robb -----

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... I'm at 30,000 trackpoints, and I'm not even 1/2 way full on my GPS's capabilities....

Well, you are and you aren't :lol:

 

Though Lowrance states you can have 100 tracks and a track can have up to 9999 points, that doesn't mean ALL of your tracks can have that many points at the same time.

 

I don't have the exact number in front of me, but as I recall it's something like 58,000 total track points in active memory.

 

So at 30,000 you're just past half way there. Of course, you can always swap data files on your memory card, so by that measure it's only limited to how many SD cards you have.

 

---

 

Edit to add: I checked my notes... There's 512K of internal memory dedicated to trackpoints and each point takes 9 bytes. That's room for 58,254 points at most - minus a little bit for track names, which can be variable length.

Edited by lee_rimar

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Yup, what they said :lol:

 

I've been using Lowrance products for years and have been highly pleased by them, and am happy to see they finally entered the color handheld GPSr market!

 

One of my favourite aspects of the iFinder series is their amazingly good signal reception. This to me is a fundamental & primary important feature. I mean, who cares of your GPSr is state-of-the-art with a 3 dimensional color holographic interface, if it can't aquire a signal lock :P And with the color iFinders, Lowrance has increased the receiver from 12 to 16 channels which has to sweeten the pot even more!

 

It'd be nice if the iFinders could autoroute, that would be a nice feature that is currently missing from Lowrances inventory (the iWay 100m has been discontinued) but all the rest of the features are there. And, perhaps the OP should be considering the iFinder Hunt C as it has the electronic compass & barometric altimeter included.

 

The advantages of the Garmin are probably size (it's small, light, fits nicely in the hand)

 

Actually the iFinders are dimensionally smaller than the Garmin 60's when you take into account that antenna stump on top of the Garmin. BUT,, the Garmins still have a smaller screen. Not huge dimensional differences, but numbers are numbers :D

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Actually the iFinders are dimensionally smaller than the Garmin 60's when you take into account that antenna stump on top of the Garmin.

True, but I was thinking more about how it fits in the hand rather than the pocket. It was also tricky getting the RAM mount for my iFinder in a good place on my bike. Could blame the bike's strange geometry, but a more compact GPS would have been easier to mount.

 

Thanks for pointing out the bigger screen size - that's a strong point for Lowrance that I neglected to mention. The backlight is amazingly birght, too.

Edited by lee_rimar

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The backlight is amazingly birght, too.

 

Oddly enough, for me, I like being able to 'DIM' the backlighting on the lowrance when I'm running on AA power.

 

This causes the GPS to conserve battery power, yet still provide me with backlighting while I'm out boonie bashing at night. I've run for 8 - 12 hours with backlighting continually turned on, no battery problems.

 

I also found that high capacity NiHM batteries appear to last 'way longer' than alkaline.

 

Regards,

---- Robb ----

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I've used the original H20 some, and the 60CS a lot. In my mind, Garmin is the hands-down winner. And if you want to create your own maps, you can do this with the 60CS. With the H20, you can only add tracks. Lots of them, granted, but it is still a significant limitation, especailly if you want to add contours. Having used Garmin, Lowrance and Magellan products, I also have to say that Garmin has the most intuitive interface of the bunch.

 

FWIW

 

Rich Owings

www.MakeYourOwnMaps.com

www.GPStracklog.com

 

"We were desert mystics, my friends and I, poring over our maps as others do their holy books." - Edward Abbey

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I'm a little bit of a salty dog too. I boat out of Charleston Harbor and Winyah Bay in South Carolina.

 

Lowrance has good, long reputation with mariners but many boaters I know are starting to turn to Garmin. It’s a noticeable trend.

 

I’m all Garmin – Chart Plotter, Fish Finder and have a backup GPSmap 60CS with a Ram Mount and hardwired 12VDC plug on my Key West.

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Reality & relevance check.

 

Clear away some misinformation first:

 

- The OP asked to compare a Lowrance H2OC to the Garmin 60CS. Comparisons to Geko, Go, Legends, etc are not especially relevant.

 

- Lowrance Electronics has been in business since 1957, and has been selling GPSRs since 1991. They've racked up an impressive number of "firsts" in consumer grade GPSRs since then http://www.lowrance.com/Company/history.asp

 

To answer the OP:

 

Both the H2OC and the Garmin 60CS will work equally well for finding your position - the core feature of a GPS. Both have high quality color screens, built-in basemaps, and available street-level and topo maps.

 

The advantages of the Garmin are probably size (it's small, light, fits nicely in the hand), user interface, and a wider market base (for peer support). Available mapping software is more up to date, and the autorouting features are good. Extra features like the compass, barameter, etc, don't impress me but some people like them. Biggest downside is a fixed/limited amount of memory, which may only be a problem if you travel often and widely enough that you have to swap out map regions.

 

The advantages of the Lowrance H2OC are: Price (Lowrance is almost always a price-beater for a given feature set) and the expandable memory using inexpensive MMC or SD cards. Some people may find it inconvenient that you have to remove the data card to upload/download data to you computer. This doesn't strike me as too difficult, but some people would rather transfer data by (cable or bluetooth). The real downsides to the Lowrance are pretty much the flip-side of Garmins advantages: Bulky instead of svelte, outdated map software, no auto-routing.

 

I recently bought a Lowrance H2O (not color) made my choice on features I really needed and staying within a tight budget. If price had been less of a concern I probably would have bought the Garmin Map 60 or Map 60cs.

Thanks for the link. I remember selling some of those early Lowrance gps productrs. When I see people take issue with the size of some of the current Magellan and Garmin products it makes me wonder what they would say about the Lowrance Global Map GPS, Now that was one big hand held GPS.

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And if you want to create your own maps, you can do this with the 60CS. With the H20, you can only add tracks. Lots of them, granted, but it is still a significant limitation, especailly if you want to add contours.

There is a significant progress in regards of building your own maps for Lowrance iFinder. More details in Yahoo! MapCreate Format Group:

 

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mapcreate_format/

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There is a significant progress in regards of building your own maps for Lowrance iFinder. More details in Yahoo! MapCreate Format Group:

 

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/mapcreate_format/

That is great news! Thanks for letting us know.

 

Rich Owings

www.MakeYourOwnMaps.com

www.GPStracklog.com

 

"We were desert mystics, my friends and I, poring over our maps as others do their holy books." - Edward Abbey

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IVxIV, I'm curious about the 16-channel aspect of Lowrance IFinders. I know the more channels the better reception (or at least the more satellites you can get), but I've always wondered since there's never more than 12 birds over one's horizon at once how anything above 12 channels improves reception.

 

This is not to knock what you're saying, I've heard mostly great things about the IFinders vis-a-vis reception but I know that most Cobra units are 18-channels and I mostly hear they have the worst reception of any make of GPS!

Edited by hairymon

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... about the 16-channel aspect of Lowrance IFinders ... how anything above 12 channels improves reception. ...

For now, it is hype and nothing more. The capability exists so it's an advertising blurb. I would expect OTHER improvements in signal processing to be more important than simply how many birds it can see.

 

BUT --someday there will be more satellites in the GPS constellation. The more satellites a device can see and use, the better your fix should be.

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It'd be nice if the iFinders could autoroute

That would make it the perfect unit.

 

Now I found a bug in Mapcreate, and asked Lowrance about it. A little bird tells me autorouting may be coming to Mapcreate. <_<

 

But Shhhhh <_< Don't tell anyone.

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...A little bird tells me autorouting may be coming to Mapcreate.

There is/was an autorouting version of MapCreate, (called MapCreate Turn-By-Turn) but it was only bundled (and compatible) with the iWay 100m. Did your little bird tell you of a firmware upgrade might soon let it run on other Lowrance models?

Edited by lee_rimar

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My little bird didn't say much, But I was in 6.3 when I found a bug in the route window. Apparently there would be an option there to let you set point A and B, and let mapcreate fill in the middle (Speculation here) They said what I found was from where they were working on a autorouting version of mapcreate. I'm not familiar with the I-Way software, so I don't know how much it shares in common with 6.3.

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... I'm curious about the 16-channel aspect of Lowrance IFinders. ...

Here, having 3 EGNOS vessels in sight, the Garmin may 'jump' quite a bit selecting amongst them. But this doe not seem to impact precision.

 

The better performance feeling might just be the outcome of the next generation chipsets in use, where 16 vs. 12 is just one minor aspect amongst other improvements, e.g. signal processing.

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I was on a trip with a friend of mine. He has the H20 and I have a Map60c. We did the same route and he ran out of tracks so it removes them from the beginning where my unit drawed the complete route.(Both are at default settings) This didn't make much sense to me if I was in a situation with low visibility and wanted to backtrack. But my friend did loose signal a couple of times where the Map60c did not. Not fair comparing the screens because my friend dosen't have color. Garmin did cost me more but I think it is worth the extra money. Hope this helps you.

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I started out caching last August with a base Magellan so I am still somewhat of a newbie too. I received a Lowrance iFinder H20 color as a late Christmas gift. I didn't realize it but the research I did prior to Christmas was for my own gift when I decided it gave the most bang for the buck. As others have posted so eloquently it really depends on how you want to use it. This unit does all I want it to and much more as I am just finding out more capabilites every day. I don't have a problem with changing out the sd cards as I figured its memory is only limited in the size of the card that I have. I definitely like the larger screen and the color is way cool except in very bright sunlight. I didn't find the user interface, system setup, screens etc a problem to figure out although I did resort to looking at the manual a few times :unsure: . The plus package is definitely the way to go.

 

From what everyone else has said and from my own research each unit has its pluses and minuses so in the end you have to decide what features are most important to you. I don't think you can go wrong either way and note that there are supporters for both. You also don't need to get a garmin just because "everyone" has one :unsure:

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Both units should be able to do 10000 pts per track. The H2O can do up to 100 tracks with an upper limit on track points limited by internal memory, somewhere around 50k points. Your friend also can choose between time based, distance based, or automatic point placement. The H2O uses the older chipset, the color H2O has the newer which it shares with the Expedition and the Hunt Color. Supposedly the new Lowrance chipset, rumored to be the SIRFIII, is even better at acquiring and locking on than the older SIRFII based Lowrance units.

 

In order to use the track function to its best advantage, your friend should have taken some time to read up on it and set it up to match his needs.

 

I was on a trip with a friend of mine. He has the H20 and I have a Map60c. We did the same route and he ran out of tracks so it removes them from the beginning where my unit drawed the complete route.(Both are at default settings) This didn't make much sense to me if I was in a situation with low visibility and wanted to backtrack. But my friend did loose signal a couple of times where the Map60c did not. Not fair comparing the screens because my friend dosen't have color. Garmin did cost me more but I think it is worth the extra money. Hope this helps you.

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If your close to the memory limit why not just dump a track or two onto the memory card and delete the file from the GPS units memory. With a good sized memory card there really is no limit from what I know of things...please correct me if I'm wrong.

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With a good sized memory card there really is no limit from what I know of things...please correct me if I'm wrong.

 

No your quite correct.

 

More specifically, if you run out of memory or track log space, save the data file to the card, and if you want to keep some info that is being displayed, just delete the stuff you don't need, because it is backed up on the card.

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I can't speak for the Lowrance, I did own one for a while (a plain Jane IFinder) and it did have a lot of nice features, but I never had the maps for it and didn't use it much.

 

As far as the Gamins go I would look at the x series. From reading these forums the reception on them can't be beat and now that they use the expansion cards, memory shouldn't be an issue.

 

From reading the replies here Lowrance doesn't offer auto routing which in the car is extremely useful and would be a deciding factor to me.

 

It sound like you are going to be using your unit mostly on the water so I would recommend that you look at the Garmin 76 series. They are aimed more at the marine crowd and have features that you may find useful on the boat. You can also hook them to a compatible depth sounder and it can show water depth. I have no clue what is needed to do it or how useful this is but from reading the manual it can be done. They also work very well in the car, and in the woods. The only down side is that they are a little large, but unless you have very small hands that shouldn't be an issue. Another good thing about the 76 series it that they float and to me that's important on the water.

 

Over all if I where to recommend a unit for the needs you listed I would say the Garmin GPSmap 76csx. The price may be steep but I think it would be worth it.

Edited by rynd

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I'm expecting Lowrance will come out with autorouting shortly. Not that I expect people to count on that or anything but I am curious about something myself. For those in the know...what would be required to be updated if they came out with autorouting...would it just be a simple firmware update? Would you have to buy a new mapping package and a firmware update?

 

Can you imagine the market share Lowrance would capture if they added that one feature that is make it or break it for many. Other than that feature Lowrance Expedition C kicks butt on anything else in the handheld market and at 50% less price. Expedition C = biggest and highest resolution screen available. At least equal reception to anything else, voice/audio capable, about equal size to Garmin 76 & 60's. I guess the other thing they could add would be the direct USB connectivity but I would also assume that won't be long either. Having to use the cardreader for maps is a mute point IMO. With a one gig card you can fit such a big area with full detail that unless your travelling cross country every weekend the cardreader will hardly ever come out nor will the 5 card issue rear its head.

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What I meant is that the Garmin didn't have to be setup to do anything like that. I guess that the "out of the box" setup seems to be easier than the Lowerance.

 

Both units should be able to do 10000 pts per track. The H2O can do up to 100 tracks with an upper limit on track points limited by internal memory, somewhere around 50k points. Your friend also can choose between time based, distance based, or automatic point placement. The H2O uses the older chipset, the color H2O has the newer which it shares with the Expedition and the Hunt Color. Supposedly the new Lowrance chipset, rumored to be the SIRFIII, is even better at acquiring and locking on than the older SIRFII based Lowrance units.

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I have the original H2O and love it. Then again, I've always been a fan of Lowrance products since I had my first GM100. I've had Garmin and Magellan products, but always end up back with a Lowrance. Just my opinion, though !!

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