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Garmin 8610xsv Real world Review

Old 01-24-2019, 07:11 PM
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Default Garmin 8610xsv Real world Review

Well, the long wait is over and my 8610 arrived this afternoon while I was at work which made for a a seemingly endless work day and ride home. My wife did take the time to unbox the unit and send me a few pics to brighten my day but after that the clock just stopped. There wasn’t a whole lot of time for installation so I just dug out my power supply and hooked power to the 8610 and my 7610 to start my initial comparisons in size, function and similarities.

Unboxing: Everything I expected was in the box including the bail mount, cover, power cord, network cord and NMEA 2000 T block. Clamping knobs, bezels and flush mount accessories were also included just like in the 7610. One thing I saw right out of the box was that the power cord and interface was completely different. The plug interface only has 2 pins and the wire is considerably heavier than the one provided for the 7610. I was a little bummed about the new power cord as I will now have to buy 2 more, one for the skiff and the other for my power supply. Hopefully they are available and I will check with Garmin tomorrow. I will also need a another bail for the skiff so if anyone has purchased the same unit and is flush mounting I would be interested in buying it from you.

Active Captain Syncing: By far, the easiest way to get things going is to sync a new unit through AC. I wanted to make sure the software was up to date, register the unit and sync my waypoints as the chart function was all I was going to get to tonight. The initial sync went as expected and I was able to connect to the unit. My iPad sees the unit, I could mirror the screen and engage any functions just like my 7610. The waypoints transferred fine but I did need to match the chart settings from my 7610 to them as I prefer. The only issue I ran into was with registration. The unit would cycle thru the registration process but did not show in my list of devices. I disconnected the WiFi and manually entered the unit ID but I got an error code that stated there was a server problem at Garmin and that the issue was reported and a support rep would contact me as soon as possible. I’m sure they’re swamped right now and will be for awhile so I will be patient as I believe the registration process went thru but the server is flooded... no biggy.

First Impressions: The 8610 is considerably smaller overall with a much reduced dead space to screen ratio. A good example would be the difference between an iPhone 8 Plus to an XR.... same size screen but smaller package. This will really help in leaving more dash real estate to work with for those flush mounting. Will also help me out a great deal as I had to stagger mount my bail for my 7610 to make room for my 1242. I now will be able to mount both units side by side standardizing my screens, view and reach which is a big deal on my setup and one of the reasons I upgraded.

One of the first things I noticed right off the bat when I fired both units up was that the 8610 has a virtual power button compared to the static mechanical power button on the 7610. It worked well and provides the same functions as the button on the 7610. The big wow factor was instantly seen in screen brightness and clarity. While I wasn’t able to view sonar or radar images as of yet there is no doubt there has been a huge upgrade in screen resolution and viewing quality.

I spent about 40 minutes digging in the chart menus to match my settings on the 7610. No surprises as the menus are nearly identical in functionality but do have an updated and crisp appearance. I did notice a slight improvement in the touch screen functions. While I never had an issue with the 7610, the 8610 did seem to be smoother and more responsive. The chart view functions seem to be identical as I panned and zoomed with no perceived difference but I did notice some considerable aspect ratio differences in the actual maps that I will discuss further below.

New G3 Maps: The new G3 included mapping was somewhat of a let down as the only improvements seemed to be more marked channels with more prominent markers. The mapping on my 7610 is the G2 Vision and honestly they are just as good visually if not better but it isn’t an apples to apples comparison so I can only give you my personal opinion. The biggest let down for me was that the G3 charts have the same ridiculous flaws on the fishing charts with the stupid grid sectors littering up the screen. It’s almost impossible to see any bottom contours provided on the fishing chart as the grid layers on top of it and if you have lots of waypoints you have to zoom way in to see the contour lines. No improvements were made in giving the user the ability to turn the grid layer off leaving your only option to get rid of them being to lower the chart details. Once the chart details are lowered the the contour lines disappear as well until you zoom way in losing perspective.

There are some additional issues with the G3 charts splattering oversized captions noting protected, long line, and fishery concern zones in huge font repeated all over the Eastern Gulf. Maybe there is a way to turn them off but I sure can’t find it. Seems the only way to control the clutter is to reduce the detail to the point of losing other things most people would want to see. And while I am on a rant, I was praying either the waypoint packages would go away or I would gain the ability to turn them off. Having waypoints in close proximity snap to packets not relevant to their position continues to be my single biggest and most irritating peeve. Sure I can zoom in and they pop out but I would die a happy man if Garmin would dig an old 3210 out of the vault and mimic how waypoints and icons were managed on those legacy units. It was perfect, it did not nor should it have changed. I know my waypoint icons will overlap but at least they will overlap where they should be without shifting to a line of unrecognizable squares. Rant Over.

Below are a few quick shots of the two units on my bench for what they’re worth. In the 6th pic you will see the same location appearing to be the same aspect but if you can see it the range scale is .4 off. This needs to be looked into as I’m not quite sure how the scale rule reference can be the same but .4 mile off.











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Last edited by kmoose; 01-24-2019 at 07:43 PM.
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Old 01-24-2019, 07:24 PM
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I will continue to update my reviews as I get the unit installed and hopefully get on the water this weekend. As promised you will get my honest and uncompromising review on the 8610xsv with as many features and equipment pairings I own or have available to me. If you have requests or questions I will do my very best to get you the answers and screen shots you want to see and help you resolve any issues you run into.

Special thanks to Mike and Brian @ International Marine Service for all your unwavering support!

Moose Out!
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Old 01-24-2019, 08:42 PM
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Thanks for the write up! What about Navionics data in the G3 maps? Can you set it to look like Navionics?
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Old 01-25-2019, 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by pakuz_757 View Post
Thanks for the write up! What about Navionics data in the G3 maps? Can you set it to look like Navionics?
I didn't see a setting that indicates a function to "look" like Navonics maps or charts but I did see an increase in area notations. Understand that my interest or concerns with charts is not a high priority other than I expect to see marked channels noted, inshore depth shading and offshore bathymetrical lines. There may be much better inshore detail if zoomed in but due to my lack of interest and necessity as a primary offshore user my focus is just not centric on those items. I did note on the box "with Navonics data" so that could mean a lot of things. Maybe accuracy of inshore features has been improved and channel markers are closer to their actual position. Overall feature overlay and depth may have been improved but I really don't have any way to compare it with actual Navonics charts. I will dig in more this weekend as time allows and provide zoomed in screenshots of certain areas. If anyone has a request of a certain port or inlet, I will do my best to post that up.

I have already received some feedback that my review seemed somewhat critical in nature. Understand I have just scratched the surface of all that needs to br looked at and my opinions on charting and function are just that. For quite some time I have been vocal on perceived shortcomings on certain Garmin waypoint management functions and chart layout. I'm picky, older and somewhat suborn so for the sake of being honest you should expect me to be critical on things I don't necessarily like or agree with. It doesn't mean it sucks, it just means I differ in my opinion and it's usually based on how I want things to be.

This evening I will be making some decisions on how I want to mount the new unit. The 8610 will be replacing my 7610 and I am not sure as of yet if I will be changing my mounting. My first thoughts for review where to mount the new and old units side by side for the duration of my review. I will do this with a temporary mount but being wahoo season is starting I may have to run the 8610 unit with my 1242 as I require a 12" plotter for navigation. Videos are in the works but I have found that I suck an editing and getting a video ready of posting is far more time consuming than posting written reviews. I will be doing videos and posting them to my Youtube Channel but I'll be reporting to this thread first and as often as I can with actual screen shots.
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Old 01-25-2019, 05:04 AM
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The newer versions of the current G2 HD charts have those zones crazy zones you saw in the G3 GOM area.





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Old 01-25-2019, 05:10 AM
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Thanks for the very in depth "first look". A question I have is screen size vs resolution? Comparing the 1242xsv vs the 8610xsv (barring the dual sonar port advantage of 86), under what conditions would you think one choose which screen? Pricing is about the same.
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:26 AM
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Originally Posted by tonyc69 View Post
Thanks for the very in depth "first look". A question I have is screen size vs resolution? Comparing the 1242xsv vs the 8610xsv (barring the dual sonar port advantage of 86), under what conditions would you think one choose which screen? Pricing is about the same.
There is a big gap in screen resolution between the two units but more important is the what you don't see going on under the hood. The big difference is processing power. The 1242 lacks the processing ability which manifests in overall function lag and refresh of screens. As a plotter my 1242 (button unit) has an annoying refresh lag in the charting function with my 1000 plus waypoints. I like the 1242 but if I were you, I would put a 7612xsv in the mix of consideration. If you're ok with a 10" screen the 8610 is superior but if you need or want a 12" screen I would find a sale on the 7612 and go that route unless you are wanting to run LiveVU scanning ducers.
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:33 AM
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Originally Posted by bluewaterpirate View Post
The newer versions of the current G2 HD charts have those zones crazy zones you saw in the G3 GOM area.
Yep, that layer drives me nuts. Is there anybody out there that actually has a need for those? I have many commercial fishing friends and they are just a bewildered as I am to why anyone would use them.
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:53 AM
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Kmoose, I think you are objective and impartial. That's what I like the most about your reports. Thanks and keep it up!
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Old 01-25-2019, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by kmoose View Post
I spent about 40 minutes digging in the chart menus to match my settings on the 7610. No surprises as the menus are nearly identical in functionality but do have an updated and crisp appearance. I did notice a slight improvement in the touch screen functions. While I never had an issue with the 7610, the 8610 did seem to be smoother and more responsive. The chart view functions seem to be identical as I panned and zoomed with no perceived difference but I did notice some considerable aspect ratio differences in the actual maps that I will discuss further below.
I noticed that your home row buttons look different on each unit. I expected v14 to bring 76's etc. up to the same look. Is that not the case, or have you not updated the 76 yet?

I downloaded the update and meant to install it last wkd, but but my battery was low and I ran out of time.
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Old 01-25-2019, 07:03 AM
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All my units are running the current software so I don’t think there will be any appearance update for the 7600 units.
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Old 01-25-2019, 07:18 AM
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Kmoose ..

Here are some screen captures of the Tampa area from my 7610 fishing/nav chart views using the latest G2 HD charts.

Fishing ...









Navigation ....





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Old 01-26-2019, 04:01 PM
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Well I was able to get the install done this morning and despite the weather I launched the SeaCraft and took a leisurely troll down Crystal River. I was pressed for time and I took my 4 year old granddaughter with me which didn’t help but I got a few screen shots along side of the 7610 to get a comparison. Before I get rolling I will reel back some of my thoughts of the new G3 maps. Without a doubt the inshore depth lines and channel accuracy are far superior to the G2 vision on the 7610. Below are some radar screenshots from each unit. Notice how well the shoreline returns match up with chart shoreline. This is a big improvement. It was a dead low winter tide so a lot more of the shoreline was exposed.





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Old 01-26-2019, 04:28 PM
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One thing should be noted is that the screen shots taken to the card are from the clarity seen in person. No matter how I took pictures it just didn’t do the 8610 justice. The 8610’s display is so crisp and vivid. There is zero pixelation on the fine edges and the black contrast is liquid in effect. This was very evident in the charting function as any text is crisp and readable at any size setting. Screen glare is greatly reduced on the 86 and the improved touch screen made zoom and pan much more intuitive. Below is a pic of the two side by side. The 7610 appears much bigger but I have them stagger mounted due to dash constraints and the 86 sits about 7” back.







Processing power has also been added enabling instantaneous refresh in pan and zoom. You cannot even detect the redraw of map features and waypoints..... it is that fast. Whatever Garmin did under the hood was a major overhaul and the 86 should have no issue running multiple functions and devices. I was so impressed when I panned through some of my offshore waypoints and tested engagement that I would buy a 8612 for my plotter tomorrow but that is just not in the budget right now.
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Old 01-26-2019, 04:52 PM
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Sonar: By far this is my most important feature as no matter how good everything else is, if the sonar sucks it’s not worth a dime. Well the 8610 did not disappoint in the sonar department. As stated above there is no visible pixelation and while there is zero difference in signal processing that I can detect, what you actually see is worth every dime of the upgrade. All the color separation in the targets and bottom lines are crisply defined much like the difference between HDTV and standard definition. The screenshots below show zero to little difference but I believe that is a function of a common image collection process as the display is where the magic is. You also have to note that each sonar image is processed by the same unit. The M260 is processed by the 86 and the GT 51 is run by the 76.

i can’t wait to get out and do some real testing offshore but so far I am very happy with the new unit. Considering all the improvements the 8610xsv is a bargain as it has the highest resolution of all the offered screen sizes is priced exactly for what the 7610xsv was when it first came out. Considering inflation and time you are certainly getting your monies worth with this unit.







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Old 01-26-2019, 05:22 PM
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Less screen glare was definitely a needed improvement.
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Old 01-26-2019, 05:56 PM
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Wow, are those grid line zone things really on these Garmin maps? I was thinking of switching my current gear to Garmin, but that looks rough. How annoying. Can anyone here that is connected to Garmin determine if it can be turned off on the 86xx?

Great review! Thanks for posting kmoose.
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Old 01-26-2019, 05:59 PM
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Originally Posted by eggstyrone View Post
Wow, are those grid line zone things really on these Garmin maps? I was thinking of switching my current gear to Garmin, but that looks rough. How annoying. Can anyone here that is connected to Garmin determine if it can be turned off on the 86xx?

Great review! Thanks for posting kmoose.
You only have to deal with them on the fishing chart. Navigational charts don’t have them.
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Old 01-26-2019, 08:34 PM
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Fantastic review Ken. Thank you for the time and effort it took to put this together, it's really a great presentation for the members here .
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Old 01-27-2019, 06:03 AM
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Could you let me know how you take those screen shots? Just switched to Garmin and an still finding my way around.
Thx
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