Sunday, March 18, 2012

Garmin Adds Features to GPSMAP and echoMap Lines

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This week, Garmin International has released a pretty massive update to several different chartplotter units in their marine sector including the full echoMAP line and several of the GPSMAP lines. The update is free and available for download now and includes some pretty nice features including Auto Guidance 2.0, the ability to import waypoints, advanced sailing and safety features, routes and tracks via GPX and more.

GPSMAP units that will qualify for the update include:

  • GPSMAP 8000
  • GPSMAP 7400
  • GPSMAP 7600
  • GPSMAP 8×0/10×0
  • GPSMAP 5×7/7×1

There are quite a few updates with this software patch, so I’m going to break it all down to make it easier to read.

Auto Guidance 2.0 Update

This new version of Auto Guidance is designed to help the sailor create custom routes and paths that are free of obstacles, shallow water, buoys and other obstructions. Users will have the ability to adjust and Auto Guidance path and review hazards on the way,  calculate arrival times and save plotted paths for future navigation.

Import Waypoints

Probably one of the least exciting (and yet still very useful) updates includes the ability to import stored waypoints from one GPS unit to another when you upgrade. This feature uses industry-standard GPX formatting to help maintain compatibility when making the transfer.

Advanced Sailing Features

The update also adds several wind-maximizing features to assist mariners such as enhanced wind rose readings, heading and course-over-ground lines, set and drift, true and apparent wind data and several features designed for racing such as a pre-race guidance page, laylines, time to burn before start and a race countdown timer.

SOS Safety Assist

Several SOS safety assist features will also be included with the update on some high-end GPSMAP 8000 and GPSMAP 7400/7600 units. The most important feature is a new SOS button that will allow mariners to quickly contact the Coast Guard in an emergency situation and will provide a radio distress call script, along with the ship’s current GPS coordinates for easy communication during  a crisis.

Other Updates

The update also tweaks the interface menu on several of the high-end lines, adding a new “Home screen” layout that will include Favorites, Functions, Combos and SmartMode. Users will be able to employ pinch and swipe gestures on the screen to change the view and resize the screens. Select units will also be updated to include compatibility with several newer Garmin products like the GHP Reactor Autopilot series, GMR xHD2 open-array radars and the GSD 25 black-box sounder.

A PDF user manual will also be included on the device to help users discover and use the new features. The software update is available now for download from Garmin.

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