On the whole, the Garmin Catalyst is a rugged tablet. The case will protect the internals from an accidental drop or bump in the car, and there is a lip on the face to protect the screen should you set it face down. But there were two aspects about the screen we didn’t like so much: It’s very reflective, and likely to get messy with all that touching. The auto makers have teams of engineers who work out where to best places screens in a car for maximum utility and minimal reflections. You’re just trying to figure out where you can place it so it has good line-of-sight to the GPS satellites and you can reach the screen while driving.
So what is our suggested solution? Generic tablet screen protector. We bought and tested two different ones from Amazon. They were the cheapest 7 inch matte screen protectors we could find. Here’s a video that shows the result of our tests.
Both worked well. The SuperShieldz pack came with 3 vs. 2 for NuPro and it was less expensive. But you would be satisfied with either one.
From the first time we read Ross Bentley’s summary about the Garmin Catalyst, we knew we had to add it to our product catalog. So we’re proud to announce that GeorgeCo Motorsports is now an authorized Garmin Dealer. We’ve gotten our first few units in stock and as soon as we update the inventory database, they’re gone.
So let’s back up. What’s the Garmin Catalyst and why get so excited about a tablet computer? There are many lap timers and data acquisition systems out on the market, some better than the others. Some (most) are complicated to use, and require off-track analysis. The Garmin Catalyst takes a different approach, offering real-time feedback to improve your driving. It’s not about RPMs, brake pedal pressure, or throttle position. It’s about pace and form and line.
The Catalyst isn’t for every HPDE driver. A beginning student is going to be too inconsistent lap-to-lap and would find the feedback “carry more speed” is probably dangerous. And on the other extreme, the experienced racer looking for that final tenth isn’t likely to find it here either. (My go-to coaching advice: it’s your pedal release….) But the advanced intermediate to experienced advanced HPDE driver who knows there’s .5 to 2 seconds a lap to still be gained — that’s the target. You get the benefit of an experienced AI coach riding in the right seat, without the additional weight penalty of carrying a passenger. This could be a great tool for an enduro team to use in practice, especially if there’s a huge range of skills among the drivers that have teamed up for the race.
Too many lap timers give you an “optimum” lap time by pasting together your best times through every corner on a track. But that’s not how the real world works. Fast out of one corner often means a compromise into the next. The Catalyst gives you realistic track segments, and offers not only advice on line, speed, turn in, apex and exit, but can also show you what that line looks like. You can also choose how much coaching feedback you want to receive as you’re driving. Turn off the audio coaching and use it as a more traditional lap timer and review your session back in the paddock. Turn on basic coaching for feedback as you drive, or enable the advanced coaching feedback to fine tune your line.
Read about the details or purchase over on our product page. Look for upcoming posts as we unbox and install it. Garmin offers several mounting options and more accessories are coming out in the coming weeks.