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Garmin 5212 Review

The Garmin 5212 multi-function display offers a very clean look with only a single power button on the bezel. Everything else in this chartplotter is controlled via touch screen fields that act as buttons, keys, or prompts.

This Garmin touch screen chartplotter display will interface with radar, black box fish finder, weather receiver, and an AIS receiver through a Garmin Marine Network connection. Video, NMEA 2000, and NMEA 0183 devices interface with dedicated connectors on the back of the display.

garmin 5212 touch screen display

Touch screen buttons, seen here in blue and purple, make the Garmin 5212 easy and intuitive to operate.

Power is supplied through a twist lock connection on the back too. This unit carries an IPX7 waterproof rating. That means it could withstand submersion to a depth of 1 meter for 30 minutes.

This unit comes preloaded with Garmin Bluechart g2 U.S. coastal cartography. It also supports Bluechart g2 Visions chart cards. Bluechart Visions adds 3D views both above and below the water surface as well as extensive satellite and aerial photo coverage.

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This large screen Garmin multi-function display is also available without preloaded cartography, sans the onboard charts it is designated the 5012. Every Garmin 5×12 display ships with an external GPS antenna. We did our initial review with release 2.5 software installed.

Screen Size and Viewability

The Garmin 5212 will take up some serious panel space, it measures 13 inches wide, 9.5 inches high, and 4.7 inches deep. The display screen is 9.3 inches wide and 7.1 inches high, with a diagonal measurement of 12.1 inches. It has a very high 1024 x 768 pixel resolution.

We rated day viewability on the 5212 display excellent. The screen was bright and sharp when viewed straight on without polarized sunglasses. We noticed little to no screen darkening when viewing from the side, even at severe angles. With polarized sunglasses no screen darkening was noted when viewing from straight on, but at severe side angles we experienced moderate darkening. No screen fogging was apparent at anytime.

The 5212 can be set to dim and change color palette automatically to enhance low light viewing. We tried the auto system and found it worked well. We also used manual control to set the brightness level and the color palette. The night color palette uses darker coloration to enhance nighttime viewability. We rated the 5212 good for night viewability. The ability to dim the display at night has been enhanced in the 4.6 software release.


All functions on the Garmin 5212 are controlled with menus or buttons displayed onscreen. This is the first plotter design we’ve seen or used with touch screen operation.

garmin 5212 touch screen display

The Garmin 5212 shows tide data in a graphical display with text data below listing high and low tide times and heights.

We like the interface and found it easy to use. Garmin uses a capacitive touch screen technology because of its sturdiness and ability to function while wet. We have used the 5212 touch screen in a variety of weather conditions including heavy rain and found it worked as advertised under all test conditions. One downside with this technology is it won’t work if you wear gloves, a real negative in cold weather.

The only issue we had with the 5212 operation, and it may be a little bit picky, is the number of screen button pushes sometimes needed to complete a task. For example, if you were operating with a full screen navigation chart displayed you’d have to return to the Home page then hit Mark to save a waypoint at the present position. According to Garmin Communications Manager, Ted Gartner, a new software update will place a Mark field on every page to make creating a waypoint a one button process. The Mark field was added with the 4.1 software release.


You can navigate to an already built waypoint directly from the navigation page by touching it with your finger. This will bring up a menu with the Navigate To selection, you press that then press Go To to execute navigation to a waypoint. The same technique can be used to navigate to the cursor position or a selected marker.

Routes can be created easily by placing your finger onscreen to locate and create the first waypoint. Pressing the Add Turn field allows you to add another leg. When you’re finished you press the Done field to complete the route. Up to 250 waypoints can be used in a route.

Odds and Ends

For data entry a full alphanumeric keyboard, not keypad, is displayed onscreen. Every letter and number has its own large pushbutton displayed onscreen. This made data entry a breeze. In our opinion, this is the best data entry system we’ve seen on any chartplotter we’ve tested.

garmin 5212 touch screen display

The 5212 with three windows and a data block displayed. The right hand window shows the Mariner’s Eye 3D view.

The 5212 has one chart card slot, and can store up to 1500 waypoints and 20 routes. Waypoint names are restricted to only 10 character names, too short in our opinion.

Screen redraws on the Garmin 5212 can be rather slow. If you pan or range the chart a long distance it can take up to 5 or so seconds to redraw all data.

This unit automatically varies the amount of data displayed onscreen depending on the range setting. The user can set the amount of data to be displayed at any one of five levels.

Split screen combinations can be customized by the user. Up to 4 data sources can be displayed in an individual window simultaneously with a data strip. Commonly used split screen combinations like chart and sounder have been preset at the factory for easy selection.

The unit now carries a 2-year warranty.

See our review of the wireless Garmin RF Remote This unit is designed to operate the 5212 from as far as 30 feet away.

Buy this Garmin touch screen MFD here.

Final Thoughts

We like the large screen, touch screen interface, and wide ranging capabilities of this Garmin touch screen chartplotter. The package includes a GPS sensor.