One of the biggest purchases you will make as a fisherman, along with your boat and motor, is your Garmin panoptix livescope. Unfortunately, this is also one of the most confusing and, at times, intimidating options that a fisherman has to take. I have been a Garmin specialist for three years, and I still have to study regularly just to keep up with the fast-growing technology behind today’s GPS and sonar units. With this article, I hope to clear up any confusion you may have and, finally, help you make the right decision in your next Garmin unit.
When a client comes to me looking for a new Garmin panoptix livescope, the first question I ask is “What do you need me to do for you?” The perfect sonar unit for a fisherman may be far from perfect for another. Choose the one that best suits your needs and your budget. The three main factors to consider are power, pixels and screen size. In addition to these, you must also decide if you want a monochromatic or colored unit. Do you want a single or double frequency sound? Are you also interested in GPS? All of these options will affect the price you pay, and there is no reason to pay for the features you do not need.
First, we must see what these different characteristics do for you. The “power” emitted by a sonar unit is a measure of the applied electrical energy from the sonar transmitter into the transducer. Watts is the unit used for its expression the total power of output a unit is typically described as “peak-to-peak”. This value is a measure of the total variation of an AC voltage from its maximum negative value to its maximum positive value. A base model unit, such as the Garmin X52, transmits 1,500 peak-to-peak watts (188 watts RMS), while the LCX-28C HD offers up to 8,000 watts of peak-to-peak output power (1,000 watts RMS). What does all this mean to you? The more output power a sonar unit can transmit, the deeper the signal from the unit can penetrate and the finer detail that can be displayed. In a heavy deck situation, a low power unit can show you the weed bed, while a higher power unit can also show you the fish hiding inside those weeds.
Another important factor to consider is the pixel count of the screen in the sonar unit. Pixels are “picture elements” or small squares of color that come together to form shapes and images on a liquid crystal display (LCD). The more pixels per square inch, the sharper and more detailed the image you see. A high-resolution screen will give you lighter fish arcs, while also allowing you to better distinguish the underwater structure. The pixel counts for the Sonar and GPS units are represented by vertical and horizontal counts. (ie, 480 V x 640 H) Note that the size of the screen in relation to those pixel counts determines how sharp the resolution actually is. For example, the pixel count on the LCX-113C HD is 600V x 800H with a diagonal screen of 10.4 “.
With the improve screen resolution of today’s Garmin panoptix livescope that continue to improve, more and more units are being made with color screens. Once you’ve set your eyes on one of these new color screens, you’ll soon realize why the monochrome sonar units are now following the infamous Dodo Bird in the history books. Color screens are not only easier to read in direct sunlight, but they are also able to show you a much more diverse picture of the underwater world below you.