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Garmin has always excelled at GPS and navigational devices, and the Garmin echoMAP 50s has quite a bit more to offer in terms of navigational features than other GPS / fish finder combos released several years ago. Even though it’s not exactly one of the latest models, it still is a great unit to have on the boat, a unit that will provide you with just about any bit of information that you need for navigation and finding fish.
However, before I proceed with this review, there’s one aspect that needs to be clarified. This post refers to the Garmin echoMAP 50s, with the 010-01096-00 model number, which comes with the 200/77 kHz transducer and basemap. There are several other models that come with a different transducer, and a different map package.
Key Features and Specifications
- Screen: 5″ diagonal, 480H x 640V pixel resolution, color TFT, LED-backlit
- Sonar: Dual frequency
- Frequency and Coverage: 200 kHz / 15° and 77 kHz / 45°
- Depth Capability: 1900 feet (579 m) for freshwater, 700 feet (213 m) for saltwater
- Transducer: Garmin 010-10249-20
- Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
- Power Draw: 12 VDC: 2700 mA
- GPS: Internal
- Maps: Garmin Basemap
- Routes, Waypoints, Tracks: 100, 5000, 50 (50,000 points each)
Control unit features
The echoMap 50s from Garmin is not a widescreen unit. The size of the head unit and pixel matrix are actually pretty similar to the 600 series units from Humminbird. It’s a small, color unit, with a 5-inch diagonal display, with a vertical format (480H x 640V). The unit has an IPX7 water rating, which means it’s immersion resistant, in freshwater up to 1 m (3 feet), for up to 30 minutes. The box includes a tilt/swivel and a flush mount kit for the head unit, protective cover, and bezel.
The echoMAP 50s from Garmin has wireless connectivity. In other words, you can directly import user recorded data, such as waypoints or tracks, for example, on an iPad or other smart devices, via the BlueChart app. Having waypoints saved into your computer, you can overlay them on various charts or maps, attach each waypoint to its specific sonar view etc.
The navigation features of the Garmin echoMAP 50s are clearly superior to other units in this price/feature range. First of all, it supports multiple global navigation satellite systems, including GPS, GLONASS, QZSS2, and Galileo2. Second of all, it can store up to 5000 waypoints, 100 routes and 50 tracks, function which not all fishfinder combos have, and the numbers are a bit higher than from various other units that have this particular function.
A great aspect of this unit is that you can have multiple stats on-screen at once when you’re working with the navigational chart. For example, your unit can indicate your speed, your current coordinates, the coordinates of the point where you have your cursor on screen, distance from your current location and the cursor location, the amount of time required to get from your current location to the point where you have your cursor at (based on current speed), and voltage (in case it’s necessary). All this data displayed at once makes this unit quite an excellent navigational tool. It also has an electronic compass function.
The built-in chart package this unit comes with, the Garmin Worldwide Basemap, is not too great, though. However, the unit does have two microSD card slots and you can upgrade the charts to LakeVü HD Ultra, Garmin Bluecharts, Garmin Inland Lakes or Garmin Topo.
When it comes to sonar capabilities, this unit can support 3 sonar frequencies: 50/77/200 kHz. However, the box includes only a dual frequency transducer for 77/200 kHz, with a transom mount system. These being said, with this unit you will be able to scan the water column under your boat, with a narrow beam 200 kHz / 15°, or with a wider beam, but less accurate, at 77 kHz / 45°. The transducer has a built-in temperature sensor, thus the unit can indicate water temperature. There’s also a temperature graph function, which gives you the possibility to have a better look at the water temperature variations, depending on depth, currents etc.
The sonar functions of the echoMAP 50s also include a flasher view. Although this is a rather basic sonar unit, many anglers feel more comfortable with it, especially when ice fishing or down dropping. This sonar function offers a different way of monitoring depth, lure movement, fish detection, and an average distance between the fish and the lure.
A great feature of this unit is sonar recording. This particular function gives you the possibility to review the sonar returns of specific fishing spots. To be able to record sonar, the unit requires having a microSD card for user date plugged into one of the 2 slots.
Last but not least, this unit offers various split-screen modes. You can either view the sonar returns of both beams in split-screen, the navigational chart, and sonar, or the sonar and the temperature graph, for example. It doesn’t offer a 3-screen view, or multiple screen view though. You can observe up to two views simultaneously.
What’s Best About This Unit
Compared with other fish finder / GPS combos, the echoMAP 50s has quite a few pluses. The navigational information that the unit makes available is really consistent. On top of that, the maps can be upgraded to LakeVü HD, or LakeVü HD Ultra, which considerably increases the navigational potency of this unit.
Sonar recording is also something not many units in this price range have. The possibility to record your sonar returns, re-examine them later or show them to your friends is simply great. On top of that, the unit has 2 card slots, and you can use one for saving sonar, waypoints and other data, and the other one for a superior charts pack.
Wireless connectivity is also a great plus for this unit. This makes the export of your navigational data from your Garmin unit, into your tablet or smartphone much easier.
Most fish finders within this price range have a temperature probe within the transducer. However, not all the temperature graph function. Therefore, this is also a plus, since it gives you the possibility to make a better correlation between depth and water temperature or have a better view of the water temperature of various spots of a specific lake.
The built-in basemap package the unit comes with is not exactly the greatest. The maps are pretty basic and simple, and might not be able to provide the sufficient amount of data that you might want. On the other hand, the unit is compatible with various superior map SD cards.
Since the display of the unit has a vertical layout, with only 3 inches horizontally, you may find the split sonar view a bit narrow. However, you can always view sonar and map in split-screen horizontally.
Overall the Garmin echoMAP 50s is not a bad fish finder and GPS combo. Along with the basic sonar, GPS and basic cartography, it offers quite a few other useful functions. On top of that, it comes for quite a decent price, this unit actually having a great price/quality ratio. It’s a pretty decent unit, worth every penny.