By all accounts, this is an off season for new electronics technology. Understand that with today/s pace of techno-advancement, “off” is totally relative. While some marine electronics companies either choose or must introduce new product later in the year at Fort Lauderdale or Miami, the National Marine Electronics Association’s annual convention is where most choose to debut their new stuff to their dealers, the press and by extension, you, the boating public! Here are some more of the product highlights of this fascinating convention. (Go here for Part I of our coverage)
This progressive company follows up its innovative (and affordable) combination VHF radio/integral AIS with a CPN 1010i ($2,299) and 700i ($1,499) series chart plotters.
Other interesting innovations include handheld VHF radios that charge via a USB plug instead of needing a dozen different charges for various radios. And for those with decorating skills, the 700 series even comes in white which admittedly looks very cool flush-mounted into a white fiberglass console!
Geonav introduces a new 12-inch LCD color display with built-in 2 kW sonar and a remarkably intuitive user-interface. Anyone with any marine electronics familiarity should be able to step up and run it effectively before ever cracking open a manual.
The G12 features seamless and virtually instantaneous chart redraws and zooms, quick keys to navigate the system, rotary and joystick controls and a Quickconnect data port for USB devices and two SD memory cards. One of the features I liked most was the ability to instantly configure any custom windows and give them your own identifications for rapid access via what the company calls Bluelogic. They also call it Pane Management! Navionics Platinum Plus and C-Map 4D cartography both function in this system thanks to GeoNav’s DualFuel Cartography function World base maps come built-in and the upgraded cartography uses the data ports. All this just scratches the surface of the G12’s capabilities. Suggested retail lists the G12 at $2,999 for the display with sonar. Transducers and antennas are extra.
Globalstar Satellite Phones
Twenty new low-earth-orbiting satellites so far and 12 more being launched by December and January mean that Globalstar’s coverage footprint is growing dramatically. Additionally, by the end of 2012, it will have a whole new generation of phones that rival the size and weight of today’s standard cellphones. Prices are yet to be determined.
If you don’t have triples or quads on your transom, you probably didn’t realize that in the southeast, insurance companies require you to have a satellite tracking system aboard your boat (much like a maritime Lo-Jack)! Spot Hug is a satellite-based GPS secutiry system that monitors position should your boat move as well as battery voltage, high water, door/hatch openings, smioke, fire and more. It also notifies the GEOS International Emergency Rescue Coordination Center should you experience a life-threatening emergency while aboard. Suggested retail runs at $399.
Simrad AP70 and AP80 Autopilots
The new professional AP70 retails for $3,200 (base) while the top-end AP80 carries a suggested $5,400 base-price listing. Adding additional functions boosts those prices. Both units are professional models with a host of functions as well as new, color displays and beautiful, legible graphics.
Airmar CHIRP Transducers
The nation’s leading manufacturer of sonar transducers has several new senders incorporating CHIRP technology. Instead of sending out pulses of a single frequency, CHIRP transducers send out multiple-frequency bursts (25-45, 40-60 or 130-210 kHz signal “windows” that the respond differently to what’s below, allowing you to get the very clearest, highest-resolution images with best separation possible. It also affords you the ability to see much deeper for the same amount of output power. Models can provide between 5 and 10 times greater detail and resolution, 10 to 1,000 times more energy focusing on the targets, accuracy down to 10,000 feet, unheard of separation between baitfish and gamefish, superior performance in noisy waters and much-improved bottom lock at high boat speeds. And these CHIRP transducers come in your choice of in-hull, thru-hull or keel/pocket mounts. Currently, CHIRP is only available in Simrad products, but expect the technology to spread throughout the industry in the future.
Raymarine E-7 Multi-Function Display
This system operates just like an Apple product with the ability to swipe the screen to move it. You get limitless page-generation flexibility via swipe, drag and drop. Entering and exiting apps couldn’t be easier. Touch and hold waypoint generation is also easy. Actually, perhaps too easy! (I’ll explain in a moment.) Place your finger on the screen and it produces a new waypoint. The menu structure and user interface have both been dramatically upgraded, taking the company’s Hybrid Touch to a new level. Followup includes upgrading operation and user interfaces in both Raymarine autopilots and instruments. My aging eyes also appreciate EZView that enlarges the digital readouts.
Raymarine has added Bluetooth and wi-fi to every unit. Bluetooth lets you control your plotter with a tiny remote that you can wear around your neck or attach to your steering wheel. It also lets you control your sound system. The wi-fi turns each E-7 unit into its own hotspot. Integrate your iPhone, iPad or other Apple computers as well as Androids for video streaming or more importantly plotter synchronization. Generate waypoints on your iPhone or iPad via Navionics cartography, you can auto-synch all the information to your plotter. Remember when I said it might even be too (ITAL) easy to generate waypoints? This portends a problem for professional charter captains and guides. Guests now have the ability to charter fish a really great spot and simply touch the screen of their iPhone to lock in that position without anyone knowing. As soon as they go home, it wirelessly transfers that spot to the guest’s own plotter. Don’t be surprised when your charter guide collects everyone’s cellphones upon boarding in the future!
FURUNO NAVpilot 700
This new autopilot employs NMEA 2000 communication protocol with CAN bus interfacing for easy plug-and-play installation. The unit provides user customizable displays in addition to standard rudder angle or navigation modes. Auto and advanced modes maintain your desired course while automatically compensating for wind and current (set and drift). Another new feature targets fishermen in particular: Engage FishHunter mode when you mark fish or find birds. FishHunter mode will automatically execute a proscribed trolling pattern in the form of a square, zigzag, orbit, figure eight or a series of spirals. Optional remote controls come in lever, dial, button or dodge types. Steering can be set to an efficiency mode that cuts back on rudder movement, shown in commercial shipping to cut fuel consumption measurably.
This unit is completely new and U.S. pricing has yet to be determined. We’ll check back around the Fort Lauderdale show.
--Dean Travis Clarke