Review: Garmin Panoptix marine electronics

By: Kevin Green

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  • Trade-A-Boat

Garmin Panoptix Shadow Drive A useful autopilot feature is Shadow Drive, allowing temporary course changes without affecting the pilot controls. The remote control is handy here.
Garmin Panoptix Dual Scan view Dual scan view gives a complete picture of what is below or ahead. Depth range is 300 feet.
Garmin Optipix Down Transducer The Garmin Optipix Down Transducer (PS30) - but no through-hull option yet.
Garmin Dual Scan Panoptix Dual Scan mode.
Noble 720 boat The Noble 720 was a great platform to review the Garmin Panoptix sonar.
Panoptix Garmin Kevin Green found the Garmin Panoptix price with PS31 transducer of $2399.

Garmin Panoptix marine electronics reveal the mysteries of the deep in three-dimensional glorious colour.

Review: Garmin Panoptix marine electronics
Using Garmin Panoptix in RealVü 3-D Forward gave real-time views that refreshed about every five seconds in 14m of water. Note the colour coding of objects.

Motoring along at trolling speed with the 3D Garmin Panoptix display gleaming before me, I laugh to myself at the thought of what smart sonar could have done for my commercial fishing career all those years ago.

My uncle taught me all the marks, or ‘meezes’ as we called them, along the Pentland Firth coast of Scotland so that we could find the cod, ling, whiting and haddock that was our main quarry when hand-lining. Getting to the marks took an effort as tides, wind and of course no GPS meant there was a fair bit of navigation to do and then staying on the mark was another job.

While on top of the mark we knew little about the bottom where the cod dwelt and of course we could not see the shoals of pelagic fish above them, so it was experience, guesswork and luck that we relied on.

 

Garmin Panoptix

Fast forward to today and the installation of the new Garmin Panoptix screen and these mysteries are resolved in three-dimensional colour.

Using the touchscreen on the GPSMAP 7410, I switched between LiveVü Forward and RealVü 3D Forward, the latter creating live video that updates about every five seconds depending on the depth. The only obvious limitation is maybe deep sea as the range is quoted as 300ft (92m).

The launch product is offered with two different transducers: the rectangular Panoptix forward-facing model (PS31) for mounting vertically at the transom or on the trolling motor, or the Down Transducer (PS30) – but there’s no through-hull option yet.

Our Australian-designed Noble 720 aluminium hull coped well with the chop on the first day out, as did the Garmin Panoptix thanks to its inbuilt pitch-and-roll protection – even though it slowed the update speeds.

These Chinese-built Noble boats feel solid and sturdily built. The tall hull has a fairly steep deadrise so cuts through the chop, while the alloy construction softened the ride nicely on our bumpy first day. Power delivery was smooth and plentiful from the 225hp Suzuki as well.

For the second day, in calm conditions, I increased the trolling speed and watched the screen update itself pretty quickly to reveal a 60-degree wide bottom swath and fish throughout the 15m depths. The colour coding of fish and other objects, including your own fishing line (I was told), is another great feature of Panoptix which looks to be real competition for Simrad ForwardScan.

 

Retrofitting

Retrofitting the software can be done to Garmin’s 7-inch series as well. Also, a useful feature that my host for the day Garmin’s Kai Oberhoff pointed out to me, was the Shadow Drive feature on the Garmin GPSMAP 7410 that allows you to temporarily override the autopilot for a quick turn of the wheel, before resuming pilot duties.

 

Garmin Panoptix price

To give you an indicator of the Garmin Panoptix price, I see that online store Johnny Appleseed is selling the Garmin Panoptix for $2399 with the PS31 transducer.

 

Originally published in Trade-A-Boat #467, July / August 2015. Why not subscribe today?

 


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