Our test version of the Garmin 498C came equipped from the factory with an external GPS antenna, an integral sounder, and a dual-frequency transducer.
Other models of the 498C are available with an internal GPS antenna. The unit is pre-loaded with Garmin BlueChart cartography that covers the U.S. in great detail. Most users will not need to buy or add any other cartography.
The case is just over 6-inches wide and a tad over 6-inches high with a depth right at 3-inches.
All wiring for power, interface, and transducer leads hooks to the back of the unit with a single multi-pin twist-lock connector. The transducer branch connects to the transducer with another inline twist-lock connector while the GPS antenna connects via a pre-wired BNC connector.
We found the installation simple and straightforward.
Screen Size and Viewability
The Garmin 498C screen measures 4 inches high and 3 inches wide for a diagonal measurement of 5 inches. Resolution is a middling 320 x 240 pixels.
At this resolution details are not as sharp as they appear on higher resolution screens. Fourteen levels of control are available for screen brightness.
In daylight conditions, we found the 498C easy to see and read. It shows a moderate amount of screen darkening when viewed through polarized sunglasses. We rated the screen good for daytime and excellent for nighttime viewability. Pushbuttons and the cursor pad are backlit.
In typical Garmin fashion most functions on the 498C are reached through multi-layered menus. Holding the menu key in for a couple seconds brings up the main menu with its long list of items in tabular format located on the left side of the screen. Selecting a tab with the cursor opens another menu page where you can make and execute specific selections.
A waypoint can be saved at the boats present position by pressing and holding the enter/mark key until the New Waypoint menu appears or at the cursor position with a quick press of the same button. A waypoint data box lists the selected symbol, a long list of named symbols are available to chose from, a name up to 10-characters long, a 20-character comment line, lat/long, bearing/distance for a waypoint. The user can modify any of the waypoint information.
To change a waypoint name you’ll need to scroll through numbers and letters, a slow and tedious process but a common method in machines of this size and expense. Symbols are chosen from a table onscreen.
Route entry can be accomplished using a text listing of waypoints or by selecting points on the map page. We used the quick route navigation function to quickly create a route on the map page using only the cursor and the enter button.
Odds and Ends
Garmins man overboard function is activated by pressing the MOB key. Next the unit asks the user to confirm they wish to navigate to the man overboard point. When you answer in the affirmative the unit executes the command. No really useful information is offered on the map page unless you have already setup appropriate data blocks. We had not done this so we found it easiest to switch to the compass page to navigate back the mob position.
A number of different pages are displayed by pressing the page button. As setup from the factory a few of them are map, map/sounder split screen, sounder, compass, and 3D highway. The map can be oriented north up, track up, or course up. We tried them all and they worked properly. Additional options for the currently displayed page can be selected by hitting the menu key once. This brings up page specific menu.
The unit course predictor displays as a thin line. It can be somewhat hard to see on a fully detailed map page.
Garmins man overboard function is activated by pressing the mob key. The machine then asks whether you want to navigate to the mob position. If you hit yes it changes to a map page offering little useful data on which to navigate precisely back the mob position (unless you have the data blocks on the map page turned on). To overcome this we simply pressed the page button and got the needed info on another page.
A number of different pages are displayed by pressing the page button. Additional options for the currently displayed page can be selected by hitting the menu key once. This brings up page specific data.
Some pages on the Garmin can be displayed in vertical or horizontal windows that are user adjustable in size.
The 500-watt sounder integral to the 498C includes a dual frequency transducer (50/200 kHz) and a list of features including auto and manual depth ranging, zoom, bottom lock, and water temperature display.
A desirable feature found on the 498C, as well as other Garmin sounders weve tested, is the active cursor control. Pushing the side arrows in the cursor allows the user to quickly select and then adjust with the up/down arrows an array functions. For example if you like to change the depth ranging to manual and set a certain range all you need to do is use the right/left arrows to select range then press the up/down cursor to change to the desired range.
A total of six functions are available with the active cursor including gain, color gain, depth range, frequency, Ultrascroll, and Whiteline.
We rated the Garmin 498C sounder good for presentation and excellent for ease of use.
The Garmin 498C earns our best buy pick with good functionality, decent screen resolution, pre-loaded cartography, and an easy to use sounder.