Being able to enjoy cruising over any water body without any fear of traveling off course, requires a means of enhancing your awareness. A GPS chart plotter is an electronic device that is most often used on boats.
This crucial instrument uses a GPS sensor that is responsible for placing your boat on the chart by outputting various variables such as longitude, latitude, the course over ground (COG), and speed over ground (SOG). This information is essential as it will help you to know your position and where you are heading.
Choosing the best GPS chart plotters for smaller boats can be a frustrating task because there are many on the market.
Choosing The Best GPS Chart Plotter
The following five tips will help you to choose the best GPS chart plotter.
1. Size Of The Display Screen Is Important
Having a GPS plotter with a large screen is one major factor to consider as this will provide you with a greater level of details as well as more room for other information. A large screen enables you to read the maps and coordinates displayed clearly, even when zoomed-in or split-screen modes.
The screen sizes vary from 5 inches diagonal to 12 inches diagonal; however, it is recommended that you choose a screen size that is at least 5” diagonal as anything less than this will significantly make the readings hard to understand and uncomfortable to use.
The screen resolution is yet another crucial factor to consider; this refers to the individual points on the screen that present the clarity of the images and texts and is usually expressed in Pixels.
A display with a higher resolution offers better performance since the items appear sharper and can accommodate more items. With constantly evolving technology, it is very likely that these screens will get bigger, better, and cheaper.
2. User Interface
The user interface refers to everything designed in an information device to enable the interaction of the human being with the machine. In other words, it is what comes in between the user and the device which includes the display screen and its associated keys and buttons.
Your chart plotter needs to be user-friendly; most of them come with front-mounted buttons for quick access to essential functions. Other high-end models are touch screen enabled or have special keys for ease of navigation through various menu functions. However, it is significant to note that the software or the installed interface program is much more important.
3. The Processor Power
The processor power determines the speed at which your chart plotter processes information. The more powerful processor the faster in can update the information while in motion, and this factor should be considered when making a GPS chart plotter choice for your boat.
Significant development has been made due to a change in technology in recent years. Powerful processors have been built that make redrawing of charts on your screen much faster as your boat moves along.
When choosing a GPS chart plotter, connectivity is a big factor worth considering. There are various GPS chart plotters ranging from stand-alone, multi-function chart plotter with a combination of a fish finder or GPS chart plotter with radar.
All these choices will depend on your needs, availability of space, as well as your budget. If you don’t go fishing or already have a sounder, then the multi-function unit will not be necessary. However, if you require the other extras, a basic multi-function unit will be the most appropriate for you.
Although GPS systems are capable of saving information such as maps, the route that was taken, or waypoints, also extra maps at times may be purchased or downloaded. In light of this, the GPS should be able to connect to a computer to access more information or add more.
5. Depth Finder Transducer
To choose the best depth finder transducer for your boat requires your understanding of the differences and the features of each sensor for sale. An important aspect of a sensor to look for is the width of the beam designed to emit, more commonly known as the cone angle.
Transducers designed with a beamwidth of up to 50-degrees will be able to capture a full area of the bottom. As the bottom area increases, the resolution decreases.
Therefore, a wide beam is suitable for searching fish in the water bed but not for pinpointing water bed details such as rocks and uneven contours. When looking for bottom structure or deep water, the narrow beamed transducer is a better choice.