GARMIN ECHO 550C REVIEW

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Miles
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GARMIN ECHO 550C REVIEW

Post by Miles » Wed Jul 18, 2012 10:16 pm

Deon from SEAPORT SUPPLIES (021 - 510 6262)asked me to test the new Garmin Echo 550c fish finder.

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Garmin is considered to be the bench mark, against which all other plotters/gps's are compared too. Thus, when-ever people ask me about plotters/gps's, i recommend GARMIN. HOWEVER, their fish finders have been a sore point for them. They are pretty average, with most other manufacturers offering better performing units. Garmin has now released their new range of fish-finders, and i was VERY keen to see whether they have upped their game and made a decent fish-finder.

What was in the box:

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First impressions:

I mounted the unit to the boat and liked the idea where the mounting bracket has the power plug and transducer plug attached to it. You simply clip the unit into the bracket. No more fiddling with plugs, trying to get them to fit! When you're done fishing, simply unclip the unit from the bracket. Once again, no fiddling around with plugs.
The installation was easy and straight forward.
The unit has only 4 buttons, which made it very easy to operate. I HATE reading owners manual's, like most other anglers :mrgreen: :mrgreen: , and had no problem navigating the menu's. Really easy and simple to use. VERY user friendly, like we've grown accustomed to on the Garmin plotters/gps's.
The 5 inch VGA display is the prefect size, not so small that you need to squint to see any marks and not too big so as to fill your console.


Sea Trial:

The weather FINALLY cleared up enough so that we could go out. Spent some time at Robben Island hunting snoek and got to play around with the unit.

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The resolution was GREAT!! The screen was very easy to read, even in direct sun light. Even showed some fish just off the bottom!! As you can see, it showed the bottom structure very well.


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Ahh, a proper fish arch showing on the echo.


A couple of seconds later.......

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Ok, so now i started playing around with the gain on the unit. Set it to 60 and these were the results:

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Moved the gain up to 80 and had MUCH better results!!

Baitfish:

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Snoek:

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Baitfish AND Snoek:

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The result:

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Just as we caught our allotted quota of snoek, we found a patch of snoek very high up in the water column. We could see them from the boat!!

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Verdict:

The Garmin Echo 550c is a LOVELY unit!! Retail price will be just under R5000 and it will make a brilliant fish finder for the angler who wishes to purchase a decent unit, with-out taking out a second bond!! It has a very good resolution, the screen is very bright, making it readable, even in very bright sunlight. It's very user friendly, but, MOST importantly, it SHOWS fish and baitfish as well as very good bottom definition. There is is a few more features that i haven't mentioned, like being able to rewind the screen to look at structure or fish you've passed over, or using the 120 degree viewing angle to 'see' MORE area under your boat. However, most anglers would rather spend their time CATCHING fish, than playing around with their electronics.

When I look at buying a fish finder/ echo sounder for my boat, there is only ONE real question that i want answered, : DOES THE ECHO SOUNDER SHOW ME FISH? Well, in this case YES, it does!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: I can HIGHLY recommend this BRILLIANT unit to any boater who is looking to upgrade or buying his first fish-finder!!

As they say, the proof is in the results:

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Spec's:

Physical & Performance:
Unit dimensions, WxHxD: 6.0" x 5.9" x 1.8" (15.2 x 15.0 x 4.6 cm)
Display size, WxH: 2.9” x 4.0” (7.4 x 10.16 cm); 5” diag, (12.7 cm)
Display resolution, WxH: 480 x 640 pixels
Display type: VGA, 256 colors
Weight: 17.6 oz (499 g)
Waterproof: yes (IPX7)

Features & Benefits:
Audible alarms: yes
Dual-frequency sonar capable: yes
Dual-beam sonar capable : yes
Split-screen zoom: yes
Ultrascroll® (displays fish targets at higher boat speeds): yes
Fish Symbol ID (helps identify fish targets): yes
AutoGain Technology (minimizes clutter, maximizes targets): yes
Whiteline (indicates hard or soft bottom): no
Adjustable depth line (measures depth of underwater objects): yes
A-scope (real time display of fish passing through transducer beam): yes
Bottom lock (shows return from the bottom up): yes
Water temperature log and graph: yes
Water temperature sensor included: yes
Water speed capable (displays speed on water): yes
Other:
Frequency: 200/77 kHz
Transmit power: 500W (RMS)/4,000W (peak to peak)
Voltage range: 10V - 28V input
Maximum depth: 1,900 ft fresh water*
700 ft salt water*
Cone angle: 60º or 120º (dual beam)

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Hamco
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Re: GARMIN ECHO 550C REVIEW

Post by Hamco » Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:14 am

Great report, Miles!
There is something aboat the sea that is good for the inside of mankind

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Re: GARMIN ECHO 550C REVIEW

Post by patrys » Thu Jul 19, 2012 7:30 am

dankie miles. great report.
in my life God comes first, fishing second, fishing gear third and the wife and child have to fight between fouth and sixth

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Re: GARMIN ECHO 550C REVIEW

Post by Grote-Koning » Fri Jul 20, 2012 11:20 am

Thanks Miles

Could you perhaps give me a quick rundown to tweak my 550c for optimal performance?
khz & gain?

I take it that the gain should be set to 80 as per your review....

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Miles
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Re: GARMIN ECHO 550C REVIEW

Post by Miles » Fri Jul 20, 2012 5:19 pm

Howzit!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

Setting your gain:

I would normally switch the unit on and check the reading outside the harbour, as one often has plenty of debris and/or peices of kelp and other suspended particles that can affect your fish finder. With the gain set on 100, the screen will most likely have plenty of clutter on it. Slowly decrease the gain and check what the screen looks like. You do NOT want the clutter on the screen. Play around with the manual gain and see what works best for your boat. I found the 80% range to work well for me, with 60% not working well.


200 or 77khz?

GENERALLY speaking, the 200khz will give you a very good fish showing, BUT, it will be only for a small area under your boat. The 77khz will give you a weaker fish showing, BUT, covers more area under your boat. Once again, play around and see which one YOU prefer!!

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In the above image, the vessel on the left is using 200khz, whilst the vessel on the right is using say 77khz. As you can see, the vessel on the right will 'see' more fish on the fish finder.

When trolling, especially inshore, i prefer the lower KHZ settings, like the 77khz in this case. It simply shows me more area under the boat.

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Hamco
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Re: GARMIN ECHO 550C REVIEW

Post by Hamco » Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:08 pm

Killerdeals has this unit for R 4 600.00
There is something aboat the sea that is good for the inside of mankind

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Re: GARMIN ECHO 550C REVIEW

Post by Grote-Koning » Fri Jul 20, 2012 6:59 pm

Hi Miles, thank you. Like always you have been of invaluable help!

I bought this unit from Deon at seaport & I can say this: i am very happy with the unit & the service received from Deon, he will almost definitely match or beat any written quote from a competitor should his price not already be better.

1 week earlier I bought a new transducer for my 300c & he was even willing to take that back & credit it after i decided to purchase the 550c!

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Re: GARMIN ECHO 550C REVIEW

Post by Deon Seaport » Sun Jul 22, 2012 1:36 pm

Great report miles!!!!
Guys, in the future I will be giving Miles various gadgets to test as he will undoubtly give a accurate and true report. This will also make us all aware of what is available on the market and what type of performance we can expect.
I live with fear, but she lets me fish once a week !

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Re: GARMIN ECHO 550C REVIEW

Post by Sea-Life » Mon Jul 23, 2012 11:31 am

Hi Miles

Great review, we were lookign to buy a fishfinder and after comparing your review and screen shots to what i have seen on the Lowrance units i think it would be best to go Garmin.
What are your thoughts around buying from and online store versus a store where you actually meet the guys who you buy from?

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Re: GARMIN ECHO 550C REVIEW

Post by Adrian van Lieshout » Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:57 pm

Miles thanks for the great review. Glad you found the so impressive and easy to use. The echo range in general are all very good but I look forward to your reviews on more of the units in the range in time to come.
@Sea-Life - I like to shop around online to see what’s is being said/advertised but when it comes to buying, I like to buy from a shop with a physical presence so that I have a contact person to deal as well as an understanding that the dealer has had product training thus a better understanding of my requirements. I would expect a slight premium for this "service" (being the operative word here), but can also appreciate that a physical business also has overhead costs to bare...So all in, the more professional approach.

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