When I was deciding whether to buy my first electronic navigation device, I was unsure whether GPS and chartplotter were the same thing.

Using the Garmin Nuvi 2450 has been a pleasure for about two years, but it’s not really a GPS as it doesn’t give you directions to a destination on a map, only your current location.

In addition to having a built-in GPS receiver, the Nuvi 2540 also has an optional handheld receiver that can be used as a standalone GPS receiver.

Difference Between a GPS and a Chartplotter?

The main difference is that a GPS receiver will give you more information than a chart plotter. GPS receivers provide information such as where you are (latitude/longitude), how far you are from your destination, and elevation information. You can only see your position on a map of the area where you are if you use a chart plotter.

There is another important distinction between GPS receivers and chart plotters. GPS receivers use satellites to determine their locations, whereas chart plotters use ground-based transmitters. This method works best if you know where you are, as beacons emit radio waves that bounce off buildings and trees. A receiver picks up these signals and interprets them into a position. If you don’t know where you are, this method won’t work.

A GPS receiver will tell you where you are, whereas a chart plotter will tell you how to get somewhere else.

Parameters of Comparison

GPS Chartplotter
Definition Objects and places can be navigated using this satellite-based technology. With the help of GPS, it displays an object’s location more accurately.
Function Space, control, and user segments make up its three main functions. Water depth, obstructions, and the environment are all listed.
Cost It is quite affordable to buy a GPS system Compared to GPS, these are more expensive
Characteristics Rather than displaying information on a screen, it displays it numerically For viewing graphics, you will need a screen
Uses A GPS is primarily used to locate mobile phones, cars, and other objects. It is also used to track, monitor, and study the weather. The primary use of this instrument is for marine navigation to monitor the ship and its surroundings.


In case you plan on doing any sort of outdoor activity, a GPS receiver will be more useful than a chart plotter. However, if you’re just looking for a way to get to an address, a chart plotter should do the trick.

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