Garmin’s new XM Weather, first impression

Garmin XM weather c Panbo

I’ve got the new Garmin GXM 31 hooked up to the 545s, and am once again impressed with how deep this “product line refresh” really went. I’ve tested Garmin XM weather on several devices over the years, and saw the interface get better and better. But they threw a lot of it away in favor of an easier, if less tweakable, presentation. For instance, the only control you have over the main chart overlay above is weather on/off, Nexrad animation on/off, and legend on/off. But the data selection is good (yes it rained shortly after that photo), and for more weather you go to the main Information menu where you’ll find a selection of weather presets, each modestly tweakable from the menu key. I didn’t have the manual at first, but pretty much figured out all the possibilties on my own.

  The reason I stuck the GXM 31 cable in the picture is because that’s a waterproof USB cable, which powers the unit and delivers the goods. In this case it goes to a short black splitter cable that provides RCA audio plugs. Yup, you can see what’s playing on all umpteen XM stations, set up your favorites, even control volumn level. The USB plug goes directly into the new 400 series MFDs because they do not support audio. At any rate—and this may be due to my inate cheapness—I’m wondering if Garmin will make it possible to use this same antenna or one like it with car navigators, maybe even PCs? That way you could use your expensive XM subscription in several places. That’s particularly important because, in my opinion, the $30/month “Fisherman” and “Sailor” subs are each so data crippled that you have to go with the $50 “Master Mariner.”
   Contrary to my earlier doubts, the weather data does generally read well on this 5”, but hi res, screen. However updating as you scroll around is slow; Garmin may be able improve that as they refine the software. Finally, there’s now a 4212 in the lab. I took it for a spin yesterday and was fairly bowled over with features expected and unexpected. Here’s where the new interface really sings. However, there was a not nice surprise too. I’m waiting on comments from Garmin, and will explain more soon.

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.

4 Responses

  1. Sandy D says:

    Have you noticed a magnetic field around the 4212? The installation instructions say it must be mounted at least a meter from any magnetic compass. I emailed tech support to ask about that, and got what I suspect was a preloaded answer “All marine electronics have magnetic fields…” That may be, but my compasses have lived near or next to a long line of previous Garmin GPSs with no apparent adverse affect. Either the lawyers are talking, or the idiot that insisted on a magnetic door latch is real senior, or someone at Garmin is on a quest to rearrange a lot of helm layouts.
    OTOH, the new Panbo is great, and your photos are superb.

  2. Once you’ve chosen your first weather screen you can use the Menu Buttom located on the middle front of the 545 to scroll thru the desired weather displays.
    I have done a nuumber videos in regards to the Garmin 545s XM Weather functionality, display capablilities, and G2 Vision Charts. You are most welcome to go to my website and view them.
    Here is a picture of the usb/rca connectors.
    Sandy D …. You can get around the issue of the magnetic field produced by the magnet in the SD Memory card Door by popping it using a small flat head screw driver to pop it out.Once it is removed, replace it with a small pieces of valcro on the backside of the door and the units face. I’ve installed 5 of these and that’s how I’ve gotten around the issue. Same goes for the 4408/4412. Just completed my first install of those units.
    Great site ……..

  3. bluewaterpirate says:

    Let me try embedding these one more time.
    Thanks …..
    {links fixed by ed}

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Tom, The links in your first post work fine for me, though one hangs outside the comment area. The second two links don’t work, I think because of the [img] tag. I suggest Tinyurl as a slick (and free) way to make very short web links. There’s even a Firefox extension to create them quicker.

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