Garmin GMI 10, first impressions


Good things first: some of the display pages available on Garmin’s new GMI 10 are fantastic, at least as gorgeously graphic and data expressive as the official product photos (like the one we used in the April PMY). Check my real world photo of the speed dial above, which can even have those Max and Avg markers something like the useful Max/Min dots seen on the Raymarine ST70. One button step into the menu system and you could use STW (Speed through the Water) instead of GPS, assuming the paddle wheel sensor is on your network, and a little deeper you’ll find a thoroughly annotated list of all your network devices and the ability to choose which you want as a preferred source. And, yes, that screen is exceptionally color rich and well back-lit (using a direct 12v feed, as Garmin chose not to power it off the N2K network). Altogether, and along with the ST70, rich NMEA 2000 data networking plus color screens and processor smarts equals a great new generation of marine instruments. But!

The GMI 10 software is definitely a starter version, I think, and in fact Garmin may annoy some early customers with the current page display system. When the unit is in Store Demo mode those right and left arrows flip through eleven different data screens, including the fancy ones. But the real world mode is quite a different story. In the setup menu you have to choose between three sets of prebuilt screens or your own custom set. The prebuilts—focussed on either Surface, Water, or Fuel, and only four screens each—are where the fancy graphics are and little customization is possible. But if you decide to build your own screens and specify an analog-style speed dial, you only get a rudimentary graphic like the True Wind dial below, not the beauty above. And these simple analog dials look exactly the same whether they’re full screen, horizontal half screen, or quarter screen, which are the only possibilities. And you’re limited to only five custom screens total.
   In other words, the screen wealth you see in a store or boat show is not what you actually get to page through easily on the boat. If you compare the GMI 10 manual with the ST70’s, it’s clear that the latter is a quantum leap richer in preset pages (selected by boat type), varieties of data display, and screen customization. It also understands more types of data (both manuals have PGN lists), at least right now. You see, the good news here is that Garmin (Raymarine too) can keep improving the software in these instrument displays, and I dare say they will. But you will probably need the same brand plotter—or a well equipped installer—to flash the updates, much the same as the calibration conundrum.


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Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now excited to have Ben Stein as very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Panbo is going to the next level in 2019 and beyond.

13 Responses

  1. norse says:

    If my boat can’t go 80 knots, am I stuck using an 80 knot display? The other common press photo (see the cover of the “quick start manual”) bothers me. It has a numeric display (228 degrees) right over the important part of the compass scale, reducing its usefulness. Why didn’t they lower the numbers a bit so they don’t overlap? Also, someone should tell Garmin that the proper way to write ‘kph’ is ‘km/h’. Can we get a commitment from Garmin that we will be able to flash updates?

  2. Astute observation, Norse! The ST70 can’t scale its speedo dial either, and both should be fixed. One fact many boaters don’t want to be reminded of is how fast their vessel won’t go! Plus the lower your top end, the more detailed the dial can be.
    I have asked Garmin about future plans for the GMI 10, but the company is generally reluctant about making promises. I’d be very surprised, though, if this device is not flashable. Most every N2K sensor and display I know of is.

  3. Dan (b393capt) says:

    This graphic view also does not include 10th’s of a knot (no decimal point exists after the digital value “20”)
    It’s bad enough that a power boater is reminded of how fast his boat cannot go (LOL), but this is totally useless to a sailboat, for example. I can’t possibly see from this display if the adjustment I just made in my sail trim has resulted in an increase or decrease of a few tenth’s of a knot of speed.
    Hundreths of a knot is also useful, and that dosn’t appear in either the graphic or full size digital view. It is helpful to a sailboat trimmer and/or helmsman to more quickly detect that the speed is starting to trend down and adjust … before they lose 1 or 2 tenths of a knot of speed.
    Positive feedback in response to sail trim adjustment is useful to sailboaters of all types, not just racing.
    Is Garmin at all thinking of sailboats in their target market ?

  4. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Suggestion to Garmin:
    If the bottom screen capture of this garmin data page/screen was actually aimed at sailboat racing (where we need true wind direction, true wind speed, and boat speed in the same view) it would need the following changes to be trully useful:
    1) Use boat speed (rather than GPS) and show in 100 ths of a knot.
    2) Change the true wind to be a digital value of degrees off centerline rather than a hard to read dial. E.g. +110 S (110 degrees starboard)
    And … to make it really valuable to sailors, allow target boat speeds to be entered into the device, and displayed next to the boat speed (e.g. from a one dimension table of true wind angles and boat speed, show the table value for true wind speed based on the measured true wind angle). Allow for multiple tables based on sail inventory used (Jib & Main sailing, Spinnaker sailing, etc. )

  5. Dan, Your suggestions #1 and #2 are very easily done on the GMI, except the current software doesn’t seem to let a user select data precision. And maybe it never will as I wonder if any sensor is good to 1/100th knot or degree of anything?
    However, using N2KAnalyzer I can see that the wind speed and direction PGN messages are both to six decimals (as if!), from both the Maretron and SeaTalk winducers. So at least the illusion of greater precision is possible.
    As for target numbers, I doubt there’s enough interest to put a whole custom routine high on Garmin’s list, but it seems to me that eventually they could be added to N2K as a standard PGN, and sent out from a sail racing program connected to the network. Garmin and others could then pretty easily add those numbers to its display possibilities, if it chose to.

  6. Dan (b393capt) says:

    I agree the sensors are not precise down to 1/100 in absolute terms, but I still find value in having the extra digit. For example if the display shows 2.17 knots, next reads 2.16, next reads 2.14 over a period of 5 seconds you can bet my sailboat is decelerating even with a paddlewheel sensor.
    As for the target speed … how can I follow-up on that ? As a low level member of NMEA can I simply propose a need for a specific PGN to an existing group? Do I need to find other members to champion it ? I would love to put in suggestions for VHF & AIS PGN’s that would allow me to insert software I create to operate the two.

  7. Garmin confirmed that the GMI’s software can be updated. They didn’t want to commit to any particular update features or a timeline, but added that, “We do genuinely listen to feedback from our customers -– heck, we even listen to the feedback of crusty, curmudgeonly marine writers!”

  8. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Putting my own rants aside …
    Be it this, or the ST70, the movement towards common displays rather then displays with dedicated functions and bezels made (either one) a product of the year choice for me.

  9. Sandy says:

    It would be nice to be able to see a particular screen on the even steps, and a variety of other data on the odd steps.

  10. Sandy says:

    I think I’m going to be happy with this instrument. In defense of Garmin, too many screens would demand to long a wait to get to whatever you’re looking for, keeping you from looking elsewhere (like outside) for too long.

  11. AaronH says:

    Has anyone used the GMI 10 to display wind and environmental data from an ultrasonic wind transducer, such as the Maretron WSO100, or Airmar PB200?
    What’s it like? Is it better than a trusty ST60 wind display? Or worse?

  12. Geez, Aaron, you’re a mind reader. I added wind functions to my test GMI 10 yesterday, and tried tried with both the new Garmin GWS 10 and the Airmar PB200. Everything worked together quite well; will write about real soon.

  13. AaronH says:

    Sounds great Ben, I look forward to the report! The Garmin GMI 10 seems like the “best buy” in the small N2k display arena, so I’m curious how it works with all the new sensors.

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