From the announcement in November 2012 – until delivery in mid June 2013 -finally I got
the Garmin 741xs. So was it worth the wait? And is it better than the Garmin GPSMAP 720/740?
The unit arrived Sunday afternoon – and was installed on the boat 3 hours later with NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 connected, using my test setup with Tallonsocket and a RAM Mount.
There is no doubt the new Garmin GPSMAP 700 series is a big upgrade in many ways. In other ways Garmin could have gone further. I like the new design – but I do not like all the wasted space on the bezels. The User Interface has also gone more “stylish” and abolished a lot of the blue buttons and replaced them with more “Designed” buttons.
Garmin 721xs/741xs new features compared to the old 700 series
There are a few striking features that make the Garmin GPSMAP 741/721 different. First
of all it has “Baby Chirp” sounder. The test boat do not have a Chirp transducer yet – so that is currently not possible to test. Chirp is a technology where the sounder “spreads” the “waves” – so the sounder covers a broader spectrum giving better resolution – and less real Watts. The Garmin Baby-Chirp is a single channel Chirp system – where as the “normal” chirp systems are dual channel. But the cheapest normal Chirp sounders costs more than the Garmin 741xs system by itself. The Chirp sonar is ONLY available in the “xs” designated 721/741 models. The sonar has also been upgraded with Sonar Recording – so you can record what you see – and I guess – it can be processed in the future by software on your computer.
The design has also been slightly updated. More black in black – but more or less same dimensions as the previous model GPSMAP 720 & GPSMAP 740. One thing that is different – is the heat dissipation. My old GPSMAP 720s used to get very hot – and sometimes so hot it would reboot or freeze. The new 741xs seems like it is running a lot cooler. It is a little disappointing that the screen to bezel size has not been improved. There is a lot of “wasted” space. Another thing I do not like about the new design is the usage of MicroSD slots. Even if it does have 2 slots – MicroSD memory cards are to small to use on a boat. They are to easy to loose – and if you loose them – to hard to find as they are smaller than a pinkie nail.
Garmin 721xs/741xs new [wireless] communications
The new Garmin GPSMAP 700 series also has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Unfortunately it does
not have ANT+ support – so to “real time ” interface with the new Garmin quatix watch you need to buy a the $200 GNT 10 NMEA-2000 to ANT+ gateway.
But with the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth you can share routes from Garmin quatix or Garmin BlueChart Mobile application. But it is rather “idiotic” that you can’t be connected to the internet – while connected to the GPSMAP 741xs. Once WiFi is connected on the iPad – it will never try to use the Phone network for Internet access. The new Raymarine devices have the same “stupid” use of Wi-Fi. If you already have Wi-Fi on your boat – you are caught between a rock and a hard place.
If they could just add ONE feature to the Wi-Fi enabled
products – the problems would go away. Enable them to become Wi-Fi CLIENTS – that connect to YOUR router. That would be so much easier. There is an Ethernet port on the Garmin 741xs – but the manual says “reserved for future use” – but if that could be used for Internet connection – I would not complain either.
Other new Garmin GPSMAP 721xs/741xs features
The built in GPS receiver has also been updated. It now has the same features as the Garmin 19x external GPS antenna – with 10Hz update frequency, Glonass and “Normal” GPS signal reception. That make your moves on screen much more fluid – and should become more precise as you now have a lot of satellites to get signals from. Glonass is the Russian GPS network – so using both the Russian and the American should translate into better positioning.
So the back of the 700 series is full of connectors. There is even a BNC video connector which the older 700 series did not have. There is also a 12-pin sonar connector – which has not been explained yet – and as mentioned before – an Ethernet connector – but [not yet] Garmin Marine Network compatible. The Ethernet connector MIGHT be for NMEA OneNet the Ethernet version of NMEA data transfer protocol. But that is pure speculation on my part. NMEA OneNet is supposed to become “consumer” available sometime in 2014/2015.
More to come as we continue testing the Garmin 741xs.
[Update July 1st 2014]
Garmin has released a major software update (IMHO) for the 741xs series which supports NMEA 2000 GPS receivers, Sharing of Sonar on the Garmin Marine Network and Garmin Helm support for Android. Click here for more info on the Garmin Software Update
Product fact box based on the GPSMAP 741xs without the radar. With the radar bundle the retail price is around $2700