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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Word of Caution About Garmin GMR 404 and 406 Radars

I've been looking for a replacement radar for the one I soaked during one of November's many SW gales and came across what looked to be a great deal on the new Garmin 404 radar. Imagine buying a 4 kW-72 mile marine radar scanner for under $725. Granted, you have to also buy a display head but with Garmin's proprietary plug-in and go network technology you have your choice of combining the GMR scanner unit with any Garmin chart display. This means you can go as big or small as you like, fitting the display head into the specific space (and budget) needs of your own wheelhouse. It also means you have the option of a radar overlay, something I prefer to do without simply because I find the combination too much on the one screen. (I'll take a separate screen for my plotter any day.)

Of course, if a deal sounds to good to be true, it usually is. Sure, the scanner head is $725, but if you read the fine print in the ads you'll discover you will also need to purchase the pedestal, sold separately. How much is the pedestal? It's about $2,550. So, all in all, you're looking at about $4,000-$5,000 to get a 4 kW radar from Garmin, and that's no great savings over any other 4kW radar.

Why Garmin and its dealer network offer a radar scanner without the required pedestal unit is beyond me, unless they're trying to suck you into a mail order purchase. That's like selling a car without an engine. Oh, by the way, in order to drive it out of the lot, you have to buy one of these motor things and have it installed.

If Garmin had several pedestal options, I'd understand. But they don't. So why not sell the scanner and pedestal together?


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