Garmin: new ‘echo’ fishfinders, xHD arrays, and My-Cast


The press release characterizes the new (little ‘e’) echo series fishfinders — six models in all, with the $450 550c above at the high end, and an $80 echo 100 at the low — as “Garmin’s return to the freshwater market.”  Which I read as “Hello, Lowrance and Humminbird!” and also as another sign of the company’s tenacity.  Dropping out of the hyper intense smart phone market may have been wise, but Garmin usually seems to meet competitive adversity with new models, improved features, better value, etc.  They may have lost focus on the inland market for a bit, but they’re back, and consider too the new xHD 4kW open array radars…

Garmin’s second METS product announcement is a pair of 4kW xHD open radar arrays — the four-foot GMR 404 and six-foot GMR 406 — which will replace the existing non-xHD models, at almost the same price.  Now, as we’ve long discussed, “HD” is an ill defined quality, and in my view Garmin’s HD is not yet the most HighDef of UHD/SHD/HD/etc. radars, at least as seen in my 2009 radome testing.  Still, these radars are definitely higher resolution and more agile, capable of dual speeds, dual ranges, and true color rendering (with Garmin’s 6- and 7000 series MFDs).  I was again testing a GMR xHD 604 last week, and while it’s pretty darn good, my sense is that the hardware is there to support some serious software improvements.
   But the real Garmin surprise for me today was stumbling on a recent press release for iPad Pilot My-Cast.  It turns out that Garmin acquired My-Cast in 2007, and while there are umpteen good app phone and app pad weather programs, this family of products looks quite slick, especially when you consider Garmin’s clout and ability to integrate, say, Pilot into its avionics hardware/software systems.  The company’s media department has never mentioned My-Cast to me because, aside from a small boat fishing version, there is no My-Cast boating specific software/service product, and purportedly none in the works.  But, geez, couldn’t there be?
  Pilot My-Cast seems to offer sophisticated NEXRAD animation for the U.S. and Canada, along with real time lightning, wind forecasts, and much else.  How hard would be to add NOAA text forecasts, live weather buoy reports, and tide predictions…and maybe integrate in the great planning facilities seen in HomePort?  3G app phones and particularly pads are turning out to be great weather watching devices for most near coastal cruisers — useful too for route planning and backup nav — and couldn’t Garmin put a big darn foot in that growing market?  Just saying.


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.

13 Responses

  1. James Maynard says:

    Ben wrote: “[C]onsider too the new xHD 4Kw open array radars…”

    [Begin rant] Really, Ben! You are a journalist, and you should know about style guides. (So should the marketing departments of equipment manufacturers, too…) Garmin may name their new radars “xHD”, as they control the names of their products. But to write “4Kw” rather than “4 kW” for “four kilowatts” is nonsense. The metric system symbol for the prefix “kilo” is the small (lowercase) letter “k”, not the capital (uppercase) letter “K”. And the symbol for “watt” is the capital letter “W”.

    The definitive style guide for the metric system is published by the BIPM, the internationl organization responsible for disseminating information about the International System of Units (SI). See their Web page on the subject: .

    This same information is reproduced in the style guides of national standards organization, such as that of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and those of various publishers, such as the Chicago Manual of Style. See the NIST Web page for its style guide, Special Publication 330, at .

    [End of rant]

  2. JK XLR8 says:

    It looks like they do have fishcast on the garmin site. I am not sure about the 4.99 per month fee just to get up to date radar though. You can get that frome or most other weather stations. If they have the ability to overlay the radar image over say a navionics, navimatics, earthnc, etc etc, on the ipad….that would be interesting to me.

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Apologies, James (and to James Watt). Most days I know how to abbreviate kilowatt, but not yesterday. I failed not once, but twice. The “Kw” mistakes are corrected to kW, and I am chastened. Oh, for a copy editor.

  4. Dan Freedman says:

    James, if it opens with “[Begin rant]” it should close with “[End rant]”, not “[End of rant]”, at least that’s what my glass-house style manual says.
    Don’t worry, I’m just teasing. However, in my book, substance trumps style every time, and Ben has plenty of both.

  5. DaveV says:

    Ben- Any chance one of these days a chart plotter will include a simple recording barometer function so that Gale Warnings could be generated by the nav chart system? I have a Weems and Plath electronic recording barometer and yesterday it proved its value. At about 11AM the barometer alarm went off with a Gale Warning. Within hours the wind was blowing and not long after that 50Kt winds recorded on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. This wind event was NOT FORECAST. West coast weather does not have the luxury of several previous states reporting what is on the way from the Pacific. So I got a recording barometer (I know I will not write down values hourly from a standard “pretty barometer”). It just seems that in addition to forecasts a barometer to tell you what is REALLY happening would be a huge plus.

  6. Peter Coupland says:

    That was a good blow,came thru Brentwood Bay about 7pm nov 15.
    I have a normal barometer that registered a sharp drop,after the fact..
    but I wasn’t watching it….an alarm one sounds like a good idea…wonder if there is one with a nmea2000 interface.;)

  7. Pete says:

    The new fishfinders look really good. Saw them on Tuesday.
    The stand at METS also has some Garmin branded cameras on display. The two cameras are being controlled by two Garmin 12″ touch screens. You can pan and tilt by dragging your finger around the screen. Zooming in and out is done by hitting plus and minus buttons at bottom of the screen like when on the chart screen.

  8. Chris says:

    DaveV: Actually Geonav has a barometer in their legacy product line sold in Europe. A 7″ chart plotter unit Geonav 7 Wide NET has a barometer with 48 hour memory, but no warnings.
    Anyhow, these older legacy models are not sold in the US. I just wonder why Geonav decided to leave the barometer out from their new product line? Maybe because the Mgmt and R&D went from Italy to the US?

  9. THE most important “detail” regarding cameras is not that they can be controlled by Garmin toucscreen MFD (there were two 15″ GPSMAP 7015 displays) but that one camera is really fast focusing 24x optical zoom “standard” camera, and that other one is thermal imaging camera! Hello Flir/Raymarine ๐Ÿ™‚

  10. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks Pete and Petar! Very interesting about the cameras, and very unlike Garmin to preview products without press releases or online info. I wonder, for instance, if they are Ethernet cams, or if the thermal model has a FLIR core ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. Ben,
    As far as I can tell, thermal is not an Flir core as there is no Flir logo on screen ๐Ÿ™‚ And neither do Flir uses Ehternet for video stream, but only for controling the core… Anyhow, playing with that cams gathered crowd from both Flir and Raymarine nearby stands ๐Ÿ™‚
    Standard video camera is fast and responsive, and thermal have very good contrast and adoptability, together with 25Hz refresh rate (compared to Raymarined Flir M series with 9Hz only)
    Anyhow, here are some hints I’ve found:!.php
    Should I send pics to you?

  12. Ben,
    here are some more teh.spec. regarding IRIS / GARMIN Thermal camera:
    It is not VOx senzor like in Flir cameras but a-Si, and resolution is slightly higher: 384×288 – Raymarine 320×240. Also horizontal viewing angle is larger: 35 degres compared to 24 on Flir/Ray models. It will be nice comparsion to put both cameras on Gizmo this summer
    p.s. and Happy new year ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Petar, but note that you’re comparing the IRIS to FLIR/Raymarine’s lower resolution thermal camera (though IRIS does have 640×480 model coming out next summer). There’s also no mention of Garmin. I still don’t know if those cameras shown at METS will be official Garmin products or are maybe something a European distributor put together?

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