I have only had cheaper, older Garmins. None of them will use anything except Garmin charts
. Could be different for newer or more expensive models.
It's hard to know exactly where the data for different charts come from. But, for US charts, it just about always originates from the NOAA government
data. It may have been vectorized, or maybe the raster images
cleaned up and possibly some updates that the government
ones don't have, but for all practical purposes, it's the same base data.
Much of the foreign charts also have origins that can be traced back to single
Raster charts are converted to vector charts two basic ways. From the raw data that an agency uses to create the raster charts, or by looking at the raster charts and converting by hand (or maybe someone kind of simi-automated recognition software
, and then finish up by hand).
So, there are usually more difference between vector charts in a particular region than in raster charts.
These differences are mainly: How accurate they converted from raster. How many detail charts are included in the set. Are the colors, fonts, symbols, etc. that are used easy to interpret?
used can also affect some of the same things.
IMHO, to choose a system, first look at the areas you are going to be in (and secondly, any areas you THINK you might go in during the useful life of your equipment), then look for (and ask opinions on) the best charts for those areas. THEN look for what equipment
can support the chart type(s) you need for the coverage you require.
BUT, all equipment
is not created equally. Maybe you find that the one you find that can handle all the charts you need is very expensive, or it doesn't have the flexibility you desire (like AIS
or integrated radar). So now, you have to decide where to compromise.
You might decide the only way is to go with a PC so you can have multiple software
packages that support a wide range of charts. Or a dedicated plotter that has coverage for the majority of the range.
Odds are, you are not going to find the perfect system. You will be balancing compromises. Power consumption
vs. complexity vs. flexibility vs. expandability vs. usable life vs. redundancy vs. cost vs. chart quality vs....
I wrote this kinda quick, so I'm sure there are omissions, or statements that should have been qualified, but hopefully there is a useful point or two in there some where.