Garmin 2010, GPSMap 740 and GMR 604 xHD first looks


Garmin may have lost its bid for Raymarine last week, but, as noted, there’s plenty of evidence that it’s building a daunting marine electronics line on its own.  Check out the little  GPSMap
and the big GMR 604 xHD (pedestal) above for examples of growth in both directions.  It’s hard to imagine getting much more MFD into a casing less than 9 x 6 inches and under 2.5 pounds.  Meanwhile, all that cast aluminum in the radar base contributes to a heft of 46 pounds, not including the 12 pound array.  Which is actually 4′ 3.5″ wide, but still fit on Gizmo’s antenna mast…just.  Yup, both are now installed on the boat, along with a Garmin 5212 and a skeleton N2K sensor network.  My dash board projects are not quite ready to show off, but the testing season has begun…

Let me say right off that the 740 is fabulously fast, which is a bit of a surprise given that it’s positioned as an “affordable” alternative to Garmin’s fully networked touchscreen MFDs.  And that’s particularly good news as the smaller a screen is, the more an operator is apt to zoom and pan around it.  The 740 is also full of interface features that will make some 4- and 5000 series owners jealous (at least until they show up in a software update for those machines).  For instance, there’s a new, and much more powerful, routine for setting up data overlays on the various chart screens, and also “combination” screens.  As shown in the shots below (which are now easy to make), this particular design is #8 in a series of choices which can also include route navigation data if you’re using one (I wasn’t).  Any of the 9 data designs (including “none”) can be assigned to any screen type, and most of the data fields on each design can be changed globally if you want.  In other words, there’s a pretty simple way to get the data you want, but you can also tweak pretty deeply if that’s your style.  (You can read more about this feature on page 51 of the very complete manual, downloadable here, which is also nice surprise.)  At any rate, while I’ve just started to get familiar with the test unit, I already suspect that the 700 Series hits the sweet spot I thought it might.

In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some bigger boats using a 700 as an adjunct to a bigger system. The various engine, wind, etc. screens (best seen here) means it can function like a super size GMI 10.  And I’ve seen already that it networks well via N2K, sharing the GXM 51 satellite weather/audio receiver and other sensors nicely with the 5212, and even updating itself when I applied the newly simplified Marine Network card update system to the bigger MFD (though it’s not listed).  Heck, we even switched the Ethernet plug from the big radar to the little 740 and it all worked fine, though the latter’s little screen didn’t seem to have enough pixels to show all the empty Outer Harbor mooring buoys seen below (sorry for the poor focus).  I’ve had even less time with the 604 xHD, but so far, so good.  I don’t know if it was blind luck, or clever programming, that let me pick the one moving boat amongst all those targets on first touch, but I do know that the Marpa calculations on this and a few other targets seem to be spot on.  It will be interesting to see the full color version of this radar imagery on a GPSMap 7212 that I hope to try eventually (and compare it to last summer’s experience in the same areas with other radars).  The on-the-water testing season has begun (though I still have lots of install projects yet to go).


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

21 Responses

  1. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Incidentally, Garmin’s marine segment showed some decent growth for the last quarter, though it is still only 10% of the company’s overall business:,+Bids+for+Raymarine

  2. OceanFroggie says:

    Agree for use in Europe the GpsMap 750 definiately hits the sweet spot. Preloaded with UK and Ireland charts, this could be a best seller for sports cruisers and mid sized cruising boats. The size is just perfect, especially with that hi-res screen.

  3. Russ says:

    Let’s put 10% in context. 10% of their annual revenue of $3B is $300M; twice Raymarine’s annual revenue.
    That’s 50% more than my estimate of Furuno’s marine segment business of roughly $200M.
    Garmin is the largest marine electronics vendor and by far the most profitable.

  4. Sandy Daugherty says:

    Sweet spot, or threshold of agony? How Does Garmin always know exactly what price point causes sleepless nights and wallet wringing re-examinations of vows of electronic abstinence?

  5. T. Martin says:

    After having spent a 65 mile trip using a Raymarine 14″ E touchscreen, I have to say two things about Garmnin’s smaller touchscreen unit. There is no way in 3-4′ sees with some wind-chop anyone can really use that touchscreen. The ability to accurately touch the correct area on a small plotter, would be VERY difficult. I found my HybridTouch (button option AND touchscreen) the only way I could use my plotter, and it’s TWICE the size. Mind you, my boat is only a 26′. Maybe a significantly larger boat would fair better. Finally, what’s up with no Radar Overlay on this 7″ unit?

  6. bwp says:

    T … it’s an entry level plotter period … no one in the marine market to date has all the functionality in a touch screen this unit brings to the market. I’ve had one on my 21 foot Whaler for three weeks ….. been offshore with it no real problems reading it or manipulating the data using the touch screen. I’m 64 years old if I can do I’m sure the youngsters can.

  7. Keith says:

    It’s a great plotter and fantastic value, but don’t forget it can’t be networked and only has one expansion slot on the back for a radar (non-HD as far as I am aware). It also won’t take a video input nor will it accept position data over N2K. It either uses its own internal anntenna, or you have to plug a BNC aerial into it.

  8. nicktg says:

    I’m a little confused (so what’s new?) about the xHD. Will it’s colored returns only show on the new 6xxx and 7xxx MFDs ?

  9. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I think that’s correct, Nick; the xHD radars output true color imagery but only the 6- and 7000 series can show it at this point. I don’t know if this is a processor issue or if Garmin can add this to the 4- and 5000 series with a software update. (The 5212 is able to show dual ranges, though apparently without overlay, and to run the 604 at 48 rpm if you want.)
    I’m also curious about the lack of radar overlay in the 700 series that T. Martin pointed out (thanks, T.). The processor certainly seems up to the job, but maybe Garmin feels that the screen is too small to show overlay usefully. Or maybe they held back the feature to further differentiate the series from the fully networked ones?

  10. helena hermes says:

    is the lowrance broadband radome compatible with garmin gps displays? the other option we’re thinking of is the garmin 740 combined with the garmin digital radome. any thoughts? thanks

  11. Kees says:

    Absolutely 100% not, and it probably won’t ever happen either.

  12. bwp says:

    Here is a 11 + minute video of the Garmin 740 displays and functionalites. This is a nice small boat system with some robust features for viewing and manipulating data.
    I had one on my kitchen table a couple of nights ago and navigating thru the menus … when I opened the GPS Skyview screen I was surpised to see I had eight satellites locked from inside my house. The internal GPX antenna is extremely sensitive.
    Table top overhead connectivity …..
    Display & functionalities video

  13. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Got word from Garmin that “the addition of radar overlay, along with several other features, is currently under evaluation. No timing of these additions is available at this time, but the engineers are looking into it as a possibility.”
    Thanks for the video, Tom; it’s great that you have an HD choice now!

  14. bwp says:

    Here’s some additonal video. Offshore displays and functions. More on the way.

  15. Tim Parker says:

    Can anyone comment on a couple of questions? I am looking at the 740 as an upgrade for my 30′ sailboat, i.e. single station only so non-network is not an issue for me. Currently I have no functional radar but previously had a b&w furuno which I would like this solution to replace.
    1.) What is the real world difference between the gmr18 & the gmr18HD? Does the HD really gain you any practical advantage for coastal use?
    2.) Though it sounds like radar overlay may become a possibility, will I even miss it (having never had it)? My primary goal is to have a single piece of electronics at the helm. I don’t think using split screens or even switching between screens would be that much of a hardship.
    3.) Does anyone know exactly what transducers are compatible with the “S” version?

  16. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Tim, I’ve never tried the plain GMR18, and the term HD is vague, but if I were you I’d spend the extra 100-200 dollars for the HD version. It’s not the best performing of HD 18″ domes by any means but it is a decent value.
    I think you’re right that a split radar/chart screen will work OK on this size display. If you want, you can show waypoints (active or all) on the radar screen to help cross reference with the chart. Plus I think the 740 has the Garmin feature whereby just tapping one of the split windows makes it go full screen until you want to return to the split.
    It’s odd that Garmin doesn’t list transducers with the 700, but I imagine any of these under 1Kw will work:

  17. bwp says:

    Tim ……
    The 700 series uses the Airmar P-66 TM transducer (600 watts).

  18. bwp says:

    Here are screen shots of an actual 740 split screen display radar/weather & weather/weather. Each display can be manipulated independently from the other.
    These are to scale …..
    I’m in the process of installling a Garmin 740 and Standard Horizon GX2100 combo vhf/ais on my Whaler. As you can see, I was able to install the equipment on a backboard off the boat. I’m having some glass work done on her so when I get her back I’ll crawl inside my helm console and install the backboard in my console electronics box.
    My objective was to make this a one stop install so as to keep everything on the backboard. That way it’s all infront of me & easy to add to in the future.
    There you go …….

  19. Chris says:

    I was informed by westmarine, this morning that Garmin has recalled the 720 due to performance issues, however the 740 seemed to be unaffected.

  20. bwp says:

    If there is a recall of the 720 that should affect the 740’s to. They are the same machines with one exception … the 720’s don’t have preloaded G2 Charts.

  21. bwp says:

    Just got off the phone with Garmin:
    There is absolutely NO recall on any Garmin 720/40’s.
    I’m speculating …. sounds like they don’t have any 720’s so they’re trying to move folks to the 740 for $99 more.
    Late entry for time …… Here’s the display you were looking for.

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