I want the GPS 396 and the Garmin 90 fishfinder. I prefer seperate units as I want to use the GPS in my car and my motor boats. At $999 the 396 is a bit pricey, but I intend on using it in my car as well.
I would strongly suggest the Fishfinder 90 ($90) and a Garmin handheld unit ($100-$150), which still puts you under the $399 mark, and you can use the GPS in you car or whereever you may wonder (without your kayak).
Sorry I have to throw this out there...again...I love Garmin products. I think they are the most user friendly units available and the custom service is awsome. However the cable connectors are HUGE. If you are just going to run your cable through the hatch then no problem, but if you are planning on drilling a hole, the connector is much larger then the cable, so you have to drill a big hole. The Eagle (Lowarance) connectors are smaller and not much bigger then the cable.
Anyway, when purchasing electronics for your yak, I think this should be seriousily considered, however noone ever seems to ***** about it except for me.
Remember, just buy what YOU need. Granted on a yak, you don't NEED a color high resolution fish finder or mapping GPS unit (I felt those features were important to me, and would stand up to the saltwater environment where I predominately fish). Having seperate units IS an advantage when you want to utilize your GPS in the car, hiking, biking, or whatever. But most likely a GPS for under $200 will not have the features one would want when driving (i.e. a color screen, higher resolution, mapping functions, etc).
Garmin does make some AWESOME units, but the ones you mentioned do not have similar features/characteristics as the Lowrance unit previously mentioned above. In addition, what GPS are you describing that will only cost $150? Will it be able to show maps (as a basic map already stored or otherwise)? I don't want to sound argumentative, but those two units (although would cost less than $399), would not provide him with the same features or qualities, except for having a seperate handheld base model GPS. But if doesn't need or want those features, then my points are moot.[wink]
Good luck with whatever you decide. And whatever choice you make is ultimately the right choice FOR YOU![grin]
My Garmin 72 handheld GPS cost about $150, came loaded with basic nautical features (buoys, daymarkers, etc), is easy to use and done well for 3 years in the salt on a small power boat. You make a good point about the connectors on the Garmin sonars. However, they are great units and you can get grommets to put around the cables and neck down the size of the hole you drill for the connectors.
Use a $0.60 rubber stopper to plug up that unsightly hole, and you'll only have to slice the stopper and core a hole it in the size of the wire - OR - you can buy watertight pass thru connectors at your local West Marine or the like (~$20.00).