I had the opportunity to spend time last week with some marine electronics folks at the industry’s annual conference. The National Marine Electronics Association show was held at a hotel adjacent to Universal Orlando. How appropriate to have a high-tech event next to a high-tech attraction.
The show featured the latest marine-electronics products to hit the market. A panel of boating writers judged those products based on innovation. The list of 2012 winners is below.
However, all of the products nominated for those awards had to be currently on the market, which means we’ve covered a number of them. So some of the most-exciting news is coming out this week and toward the end of the month — at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.
Monday, Lowrance introduced the new HDS Gen2 Touch series of touchscreen multifunction displays and a personalized mapping service called Insight Genesis. Navionics is also expected to announce its new online SonarCharts service in the next week.
Lowrance’s wide-format Gen2 Touch includes all the best features from the HDS (High Definition System) series plus it comes with the company’s Broadband Sounder and StructureScan HD built in. I was able to experience the new system in its development phase, and found the icon-driven, touchscreen interface very user friendly.
Anglers can customize and configure personal screen views with up to four panels at once, plus the Touch offers a new three-panel vertical-page view. In rough seas, use the five buttons along the right edge to change options.
The 7-, 9- or 12-inch units also come with an internal 1 Hz GPS antenna and are preloaded with Insight USA coastal cartography. With an SD slot, anglers can use Insight HD and Navionics cards. The displays allow users to simultaneously view Lowrance and Navionics mapping data, and they provide a 3D perspective view. The StructureMap feature allows anglers to scan and overlay underwater images onto a chart real time or create saved StructureMap views. The units will cost $1,299 to $3,249. Seven- and 9-inch models are available this month; 12-inch models will roll out in December).
The Touch series also works with Lowrance’s new Insight Genesis — a web-based application feature available in November that lets anglers generate personal high-definition bathymetric contour maps from logged sonar recordings.
Here’s how it works: Use the logging feature of any HDS display to record sonar data to an SD card. Use a PC application to upload the log file to the Insight Genesis cloud service. The service converts the data to a map, where it can be viewed for free. Or purchase a download of the map for use on a compatible display. Users can buy individual maps ($19.95) or subscribe to an annual standard ($99.95) or premium ($299.95) service, which comes with a variety of analysis tools.
Insight Genesis lets anglers make real-time charts of their favorite fishing areas and update them as conditions change over time. It allows you to store trips and maps and merge multiple data files. The free web viewer lets you review sonar logs and view trails and maps overlaid on a Bing satellite map.
Kudos to Lowrance. For more on the Gen2 Touch, check out the blog by Ben Ellison, our company's senior electronics editor. Applause also goes to the following companies and products that won the 2012 NMEA awards:
NMEA Industry Technology Award
Fusion Electronics USA Inc. for the Fusion 700 Marine Stereo Series
Autopilot — Simrad AP80 Autopilot
Fish Finding — Furuno FCV587
Radar — Furuno NavNet Tztouch TZT9 w/DRS4D
Communication — KVH Industries Trac Phone V3
Entertainment — KVH Industries Trac Vision HD7 w/ Tri-Americas LNB
Navigation — Furuno NavNet TZtouch TZT14 Multi-Function Display
Marine Specialty — Airmar Technology - CHIRP Broadband Transducers,
FLIR Systems, Inc. - M-324XP Thermal Imaging System
Manufacturer of the Year: Furuno USA, Inc.