Next to the echoMAP 54dv, the Garmin echoMAP 53dv is one of the Garmin fish finders that have been discontinued. It’s a fish finder and chartplotter featuring standard and down scanning sonar, as well as GPS and the LakeVü (g2) charts. For reference, this is the Garmin part number 010-01383-00, the one that comes with a transducer.
Key Features and Specifications
- Screen: 5.0″ diagonal, 480H x 480V pixel resolution, WQVGA color, backlit
- Sonar: Dual Frequency HD-ID, DownVü
- Frequency and Coverage:
- 2D Sonar: 200 kHz / 15° and 77 kHz / 45°
- DownVü: 455 kHz 2.5° fore to aft / 53° side to side
- Depth Capability:
- 2D Sonar: 1,900 feet (579 m)
- DownVü: 750 feet (228 m)
- Transducer: GT20-TM (4-pin), for HD-ID and DownVü
- Power Output: 500 Watts (RMS)
- GPS: 5Hz, Internal
- Maps: LakeVü HD (inland maps)
- Routes, Waypoints, Tracklog: 100; 5,000; 50,000 points (50 saved tracks).
The Garmin echoMAP 53dv features an accurate and quick GPS system, featuring a 5 Hz, internal antenna. It actually updates 5 times per second, the on-screen presentation of the map and location being quite fluid. The GPS system can also use GLONASS, and via GPS the unit can track the speed of your boat.
The unit comes with the LakeVü HD charts, which cover more than 17,000 U.S. lakes, reservoirs, and rivers, along with 6,700 HD lakes with one-foot contours, shoreline to shoreline. Similar to the BlueCharts g2 maps, LakeVü HD features the Safety Shading function, which gives you the possibility to set-up a minimum depth for safe navigation. It also gives you points of interest (such as marinas, docks, campgrounds, or boat ramps), fishing spots, highways, interstates, general roads and bridges, navigation info and hazards, and several other features.
Recording waypoints, and tracks, and setting up routes is also possible with this Garmin unit. In fact, it can store up to 5,000 waypoints and 100 routes. When it comes to tracks, it can also hold up to 50 recorded tracks (50,000 points each). Recorded tracks can be re-used as routes, and you can add waypoints to them if you want.
Since this is one of the older Garmin units, it doesn’t have the Quickdraw Contours feature, and also lacks the wireless connectivity. If you also want these features, you should check the newer versions, such as the ECHOMAP Plus 63cv. This one also includes the new LakeVü G3 maps.
Sonar and transducer
The Garmin echoMAP 53dv comes with the GT20-TM (4-pin) transducer, to be more specific, the 010-12087-00 model. This transducer is capable of four frequencies: 77/200/455/800 kHz, but the control unit will work only with 77/200 kHz for the 2D sonar, and with 455 kHz for DownVü. The transducer features 20 ft. of cable. The box contains two mounts for it: transom mount and trolling motor mount. It also has a built-in temperature sensor, and the unit supplies a temperature graph function.
DownVü is an excellent sonar technology for observing structure and the bottom, and making a much better difference between structure, bottom and vegetation. It provides crystal clear imaging, similar to photography. The DownVü sonar uses a thin beam, similar to the one used by scanners, 2.5° in fore to aft, but much wider from side to side, with an angle of 53°.
The 2D sonar uses two beams featuring a conical shape, for each frequency. The sonar beam for 77 kHz has an angle of 45°, and it’s best used for medium depths, while the 200 kHz beam is more focused, with an angle of 15°, great for shallow waters.
Although the maximum depth of this unit is specified to be 1,900 ft. for 2D and 750 ft. for Dv, these depths can only be reached in perfect water and weather conditions, and actually in freshwater. This isn’t a unit for deepwater use. Therefore, expect its maximum capability to be 6-700 ft. tops, for 2D, and about 300 ft. for Dv.
Several other notable functions regarding sonar, are ought to be mentioned here. Fish Symbol ID for example, a sonar function that attributes fish symbols to the sonar returns which are interpreted as fish. In other words, in 2D you can make your unit show fish instead of fish arches. Therefore, not only this function is great to use by someone who’s not very familiar with the standard sonar view, it’s also pretty neat because it indicates the actual depth of a fish, right above the fish symbol.
A-Scope and Bottom Lock are two other sonar functions that you’ll be probably using a lot. Bottom Lock keeps track of the bottom, regardless of its shape, showing it somewhat flattened, making the targets close to the bottom stand out. This is a great function to have if you’re looking for fish near bottom. A-Scope is actually a vertical flasher view that indicates the most recent sonar echo, and what was caught by it. It can be viewed next to the 2D scan. A zoom-in feature is also available, just as for the other echoMAP series units.
Last but not least, sonar recording and sonar rewind are two important features that this unit supplies. It actually coordinates the sonar return with your boat’s position, so you can rewind it and mark a waypoint for a certain spot, or simply scroll back through it in order to look again at a certain spot you’ve passed over. Sonar recording requires a microSD data card though. Also, via the HomePort planning software, you can playback the recorded sonar log or modify waypoints on your computer. This app is free.
Control head features and functions
The control head of the echoMAP 53dv is IPX7 waterproof, meaning that incidental water exposure or even immersions in up to 1 m of freshwater shouldn’t be a problem to it. It has a square WQVGA color display, with a 480 x 480 pixel matrix and 5-inch diagonal. It offers bright colors, with automatic backlight adjustment.
The unit offers NMEA 0183 connectivity, and has one microSD card slot, for map upgrades and sonar recording or data sharing. The unit comes with a quick-release mount, cords plugging in directly into the mount, which makes it easy to disconnect the control unit and take it with you if it’s the case. Also, the box includes a unit cover.
Needless to say, this unit leaves a little room for upgrades. It’s compatible with several charts packs, such as LakeVü HD Ultra or BlueChart® g2 or BlueChart g2 Vision. LakeVü HD Ultra and BlueChart g2 Vision also include the exclusive Garmin Auto Guidance feature, which opens quite an array of other functions. For example, via Auto Guidance you can easily adjust routes by inserting “via” waypoints, interim stops or landmarks. You can calculate arrival times depending on boat’s speed, at any point on-route. If you’re using an autopilot system, you can interlink it with Auto Guidance routes automatically.
When it comes to transducers, there are various other models that can be used with this unit. Even though the control unit has a 4-pin connector for the transducer, you can still use transducers with 8-pin connectors or 12-pin connectors, via an adapter cable.
So far we’ve mentioned just about everything positive about this unit. Therefore, it wouldn’t be fair to leave out the downsides. The lack of NMEA 2000 connectors may be an inconvenience. Also, if the existence of a microSD slot is a plus, it’s also a downside if you want to use other charts and record sonar. In this case, you will have to use two cards, and swap them when needed, which also may be an inconvenience.
The Garmin echoMAP 53dv is quite inclusive for a small GPS and fishfinder combo unit. Since it comes with LakeVü charts and a 77/200 transducer, it’s pretty obvious that this is a unit meant for freshwater use. It’s a unit fit for just about any small boat or kayak, and even though it’s not exactly the most affordable out there, you do get what you pay for.