Categories of Software Chartplotters

Our focus is on software chartplotters that run on Windows computers. Broadly speaking, these programs divide into two levels of cost, complexity, and needed computer resources.  The single most important difference is that the basic chartplotters have an essentially two-dimensional view of the world, although they can have depth soundings on the chart, and even warn you if you are about to run aground. The two-dimensional chartplotters may be able to accept real-time fathometer input, but no more complex view of the bottom.  Software in this category can range in acquisition cost from free to $300-500, plus the cost of installation and training if you do not feel qualified to do that. 

The upper range of chartplotters accept prerecorded bathymetric charts or multibeam/multifrequency sonar, and, as well as the same surface view as the cheaper programs, can present, within the constraints of a flat screen, a three-dimensional picture from the surface to the bottom.  

You will need to ask yourself if the additional cost and complexity of three-dimensional information are justified in your fishery. Bottom or net fisheries often find this to be critical information, while hookfishing may not get much additional benefit.