Dear Capt. Paul:
I've been researching a GPS to use in the marsh. I already have a sonar, so I'm looking at a GPS-only system to save a few dollars.

I'm considering the Lowrance 5300c and the Eagle 642c. They are the same price.

I'm told Eagle is owned by Lowrance, and the menus look very similar, if not exact. The Eagle has more pixels, but these units are almost exactly alike.

The Lowrance and Eagle seem to have better display screens than Garmin units at a more reasonable price.

What is your experience with reliability and support on these units? Do you have a preference? Why? Are there any other comparable units I should consider?

Thanks, Alan T.

Capt. Paul's response:

Both Lowrance and Eagle offer outstanding support on all of their models. Both units are made by Lowrance, and are excellent GPS units.

The GlobalMap 5300C iGPS GPS Chartplotter is an outstanding GPS Chartplotter. If you are considering this unit, I suggest that you also get the MapCreate USA Series 7 Accessory Pack. It includes MMC card, MMC card reader/programmer and MapCreate USA DVD.

This topo type of mapping will show the coastal marsh features better than other types of mapping programs.

This combo will give you unlimited mapping capabilities for anywhere in the U.S.

The Eagle 642C iGPS Chartplotter is very similar except for the type of viewing screen. In addition, I believe that the 5300 has a few more software features than does the Eagle 642C. But to be sure, contact the Lowrance Support section at (800) 324-1365, and put that question to them.

The same MapCreate USA TOPO Series 7 mapping software will fit in the Eagle 642.

Dear Capt. Paul:I am looking for a new unit for my boat. I have pretty much decided on the Lowrance 522c.

What are your thoughts on this model?

Thanks, Jeff

Capt. Paul's response:

Let me reverse the question: Why did you decide on the Lowrance 522C?

Was it the fact that it can store 1,000 waypoint, 100 routes and 100 trackbacks, or was it the fact that it can accept Lowrance's MapCreate USA TOPO Series 7 mapping software on a supplemental SD memory card ?

Or was it the fact that it has an internal GPS module with WAAS features that allow for 3-meter (9.8 feet) accuracy?

Or was it the 5-inch color screen and the fact that the 200-kHz, 2,400-watt sonar can reach depths to 900 feet? Or maybe it was the recording features of the unit? Or the Lowrance Radar capability?

If not one of these, I guess it was all of these features packed in a waterproof housing and the superb technical support that Lowrance offers with free downloads that include software updates and the owner's manual.

Seriously, though, I think you have made an excellent choice.

I suggest that you also get the MapCreate USA TOPO Series 7 mapping software and a couple of aftermarket Secure Digital (SD) memory cards. Having the program will allow you to load your own maps in the unit and transfer waypoints, routes and tracks between the unit and your computer. These accessories will allow you to archive all of your GPS waypoints and other data.

Capt. Paul is Mississippi Sportsman's resident GPS expert. If you've got a GPS-related question for him, ask it at www.ms-sportsman.com, and he'll answer it as soon as he's able.