Garmin 478, another big step

Garmin 478 panbo

I suppose it was predictable, but it’s still amazing. The Garmin 478 above has all the XM Weather and Audio abilities that distinquished the 376C, and it comes loaded with all U.S. charts and all U.S. and Canada road maps. It’s fast too, even the ‘Find’ command is not slowed up by what must be a zillion POIs, nav aids, intersections, etc. stored somewhere in that little casing (and hence I’d bet that Garmin has sped up Find in the first all-U.S.-charts 192C I tested last summer).

Not that the 478 is perfect, even if there is nothing like it out there. For instance, these are the new G2 charts, but apparently the 478 will not be able to show the vaunted perspective view. I do gather from the spec page that it will show the photos available on G2 cards, and the screen above (bigger here) does look richer than regular BlueCharts. But, as good as this screen is, I find myself wanting to plug the 478 into a bigger monitor, maybe use a wireless keyboard and mouse with it too. The unit lets you use an expensive XM subscription anywhere you go but in some of those places, like a boat, you may want to expand the system. Just a thought, probably inspired by how rapidly this unit has evolved over the years. 

I should also add that the Panbo reader who recently complained about the “Surface Wind” coming from XM to this machine was right; it’s old. He tells me that Garmin has acknowledged the problem and is working on it, but I also noticed this time around that you don’t get predicted wind and wave model data, something the new Sirius Marine Weather is very good at.

Garmin also announced a new pair of radar scanners this week, this time inside a smaller, 24” diameter casing, and with more emphasis on the digital processing going on in there. Finally, though Garmin hasn’t yet promoted it, many of its new plotters apparently do support AIS. The 478 is not one of them but I think I’ll soon get the chance to try it on a 3210.

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.

6 Responses

  1. Pascal says:

    I would really liked this 478 If it have an AIS support; the built-in marine charts G2 (very beatifull) and the City Navigator, are big advantages to US customers only. Same for XM weather support.
    But the 478 have a price even a little bit more expensive than a brand new GpsMap3205. The 3205 has a bigger 5″ screen than the 3.5″ of the 478, has the built-in G2 Blue Charts for all US too, support Marine Network with a 1 mbit ethernet, radar black box and has support for the XM weather too, and ALREADY has AIS support. So, I am in doubt if the the dual function (marine/land) and portability of the 478 could beat the advantages of a new 3205.
    Or I am wrong?

  2. Pascal says:

    Ok, sorry, I am wrong, the Garmin Network is a 100 Mbit ethernet, not 1 Mbit.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Heck, no, Pascal. It’s not a matter of right or wrong, just choices, and I think you’ve identified those pretty well.

  4. Pascal says:

    Ben, do not forget to tell us about the details of AIS support on Garmin GpsMap 3210, OK? Reading now a description of one old update for 392, seems that the support contains much more things than is showed in the mannual; for example that update says it has correction on the “rate of turn and the display of ship” so appears that much more than “ships-id, position, speed and course” will showed. Can you publish several screns shots of the AIS info in the 3210?
    Please coment in details what you think of this, compared to SeaClear and SOB, for example.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Well, Pascal, the 3210 is in the house and I tried wiring a SeaCas GPS/AIS to it but the Garmin does not see it. Tried calling tech support but the wait was 30-40 minutes. Real world frustrations!

  6. Pascal says:

    I found just now a sailor’s site showing a well documented experience on implementig the NASA AIS engine:
    I remeber you have one NASA AIS, why You do not make test with it and the 3210?
    Best regards and good luck.

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