Excellent GPS for boating and all around
When my local West Marine put the 78SC on sale, I jumped on it. I also bought a set of 2300mah NiMh batteries as well (I read some complaints about battery life, so I bought the highest mah batteries that I could find - make sure you read the label, the battery capacity varies widely. Just because there is a cute animal pictured on the box does not mean they are the highest capacity batteries available).
I put in the batteries, powered it up, and started playing with it (I got around to reading the manual a couple of days later). I set it up for marine navigation and customized the screens to my liking (for example, I reordered the data display to first show SOG then VMG and moved the tile showing elapsed time to the bottom. I also set up the barometer and watched a front move through our area - very neat, and useful if you are out cruising. It seems like there is no end on how you can personalize the displays. Just keep tweaking until you like it.
I then took it out for one of our local "around the bouy" races. I found it easy to use on the course and easy to see. The backlight is dimmable, great at night, and it was still easy to read. I have not been cruising with it yet, so I can't say much about the features such as - anchor drag alarm, alarm clock, etc.
After a full day of playing with it- programming, experimenting, bouy racing, etc. the batteries finally gave out. Although it was a little short of the 20 hours (more like 18+) I was not disappointed. I had it on all day, programming and paging through the pages constantly - using it interactively much more than I would normally.
The WM salesman said I could charge the unit using the supplied USB cord -WRONG. I think Garmin missed the mark here. Almost everything is charged through the USB cable these days. Having to remove he batteries to charge them is an unnecessary pain.
I have not purchased the "Birds Eye View" maps, but if we start cruising more I might.
That said, I am very happy with this unit. I knocked off one star because of the USB charging.
PS: One interesting accessory available is a wireless heart rate monitor. That might be nice to have at a port-starboard crossing, or a "room at the mark" event.
Superb Marine GPS
I do sea kayaking out on the San Francisco, Half Moon and Monterey Bays, as well as out in the unprotected, open Pacific Ocean. Needless to say the swells and wind waves out there are often formidable to say the least. One cannot spare the time or concentration to fool around with an unintuitive, difficult to use GPS as one's kayak is bouncing around under him. The Garmin GPSMAP 78sc excels, not only in simplicity of use, but in clarity of view and ease of reading statistics as well. Best of all, it comes with all USA BlueChart G2 maps preloaded! In terms of reception, it is so sensitive that it actually reads my position inside my house!
It should be noted that, like all other marine hand held GPS devices, it is waterproof rated only to IPX7. Therefore, if used on the water in a small boat such as a kayak, it should be first placed in a waterproof protection bag. I use one of those clear plastic waterproof bags so that I can clearly see the display and press any button therefore making it fully and easily usable while being protected from water damage.
If you are looking for the best of the best hand held marine GPS the Garmin GPSMAP 78sc is the one to purchase.
Great handheld chart plotter
I sail and race on the San Francisco Bay and in the near coastal ocean. I take the GPSMap 78sc with me on every sail and I use it to track my boat's course and speed. I download GPS data to Home Port on my Mac and export the data to a GPX file that becomes part of my electronic logbook. I use this when on the water to get a bearing to a mark especially if the ship doesn't have a GPS. The chart plotter seems to work well although the screen is so small that you have to do a lot of gymnastics with the zoom to see what you want to see. Given that the screen is small, that is understandable. The unit has a very sensitive GPS receiver that works very well below decks and in my sailing bag. I recently purchased the power/data cable so that I can connect this unit to instrument systems on boats that don't have GPS but can accept NMEA GPS input. Very nice feature of the unit! Garmin support is also top notch as is their cartography.
We bought this GPS to supplement our Chartplotter and love it. We had tried another handheld Garmin unit which was not as reliable or intuitive and this unit far surpasses any others we have used. We have purchased additional maps which we have used in the Caribbean on many occasions. It is bright, easy to read and very easy to set up and learn. My only advice is to purchase rechargeable batteries to use with it, as it tends to go through batteries if you use it all day - we have two batteries in the unit and two in the charger at any given time.
What an improvement from older Garmins
Like others I reviwed comments for this Garmin. This GPS is a vast improvement from my older Garmin GPS. After you set it up reception takes about 2 seconds and this is inside my home!! I appreciate the compass. No need to rely on a seperate compass when hiking or fishing. You wont loose signal in heavy wooded areas like my old GPS. I would suggest reviwing detailed instructions to get the best use. You get what you pay for with this GPS. Im glad I decided to buy this GPS instead of a less costly unit.
This is my 6th Garmin I have owned since 2000. All of my Garmin units STILL function, and best of all Garmin still supports units made 8 years ago. Garmin's the controls are intuitive and the detail packed into such a small display is quite impressive. For a portable, handheld unit that can be taken and used in rental boats, cars, and as a back up to a mounted unit this model is hard to beat! Battery life is excellent.
I wanted a good back-up chart plotter/GPS for my sailboat. It does a very good job. I found the device to be easy to use. I was able to use it from the moment I opened the box. I have an etrex by Garmin and found the 78sc to be similar but more complex. I recommend this device to anyone who would like a good emergency back-up GPS or a primary for the lake. I like mine.
Does the Job
This product works great for what I bought it for, exploring new areas and avoiding hazards and shallow water. Could also see it being a life saver if caught at night or poor visibility. The menu can be frustrating at times to navigate. For beginner users, plan to set up your courses/checkpoints and data before leaving, it is not something you can do on the fly easily.
Garmin GPSMAP 78SC saved the Day!
The GPS MAP 78SC Handheld worked perfectly as a backup to my chartplotter during recent rough weather when my main unit malfunctioned. Without this handheld and its preloaded maps an already stressful situation could have put us on shoals during our recent trip from Miami to Norfolk both on the ICW and offshore. With the handheld as backup we continued without pause.
Garmin Marine GPS
I bought this for my better half. He had an older model he liked but it was stolen and he missed it. He will get to try it out this spring. My only beef is the other one you could hang so you could read it without holding it. This one I've had to find a holder for it.