Design And Function: What Do You Need In A Marine GPS Unit?
Reliability, as with any other technological device, is going to be key when you are thinking of purchasing a GPS unit for sailing or fishing purposes. In the middle of the ocean and the middle of the night, you really don't want to be having to break out the sextant! Energy use and power source may also be a factor determining a decision – the handiness and convenience of a battery-run model, vs. the peace of mind of knowing your in-dash GPS has continuous energy access? The sturdiness of the unit is also going to be a key issue. Marine GPS reviews may assist you in assessing this.
Ease of use and access in a hurry has to be a factor: are you going to choose a fixed or hand-held device? (Of course you may choose to convert the latter via purchase of a mount). Handheld may trump fixed for speed, if not certainty, of access – as long as you don't drop it in a storm or put it down and forget it. Of course a dashboard unit is something you can't take with you if you abandon ship!1
What about functionality? Memory capacity and also display readability are important - is it backlit, grayscale, colour? If it's water-resistant then is that to industry standard? Is it WAAS enabled for improved accuracy? How long does the warranty last? (Perhaps you could set up a little spreadsheet comparing the attributes that really matter to you in order to find the best marine GPS?)
Whatever model of marine GPS you choose in the end, it's still a marvellous improvement on prior methods of navigating at sea, and just one more example of how GPS is reaching into and improving many areas of our lives.
1. 'Marine Accessories Buying Guide.' Shopwiki UK. www.shopwiki.co.uk 2006-2009 (28/10/2009) <http://www.shopwiki.co.uk/wiki/Marine+Accessories>