Check Out the New Electronics
Industry awards can provide waypoints to guide you to interesting advances in technology that are on display at this season’s boat shows. "Gear Review" from our February 2012 issue.
Also weighing in with a take on the wireless world of marine electronics is Raymarine, a company that’s starting to see the benefits of being taken over by the thermal-imaging company FLIR Systems.
The e7 display (above) is a 2011 IBEX Innovation Award-winning multifunction display that uses the company’s successful HybridTouch technology, in which the user can employ either the touchscreen or the keypad to interface with the system. Add to that Raymarine’s intuitive drag-and-drop LightHouse interface, which makes it simple to change the display around to fit individual preferences, and it’s easy to see how the trickle-down effect from tablets and iDevices is making a big splash in our part of the marketplace. The e7 offers options for input from radar, A.I.S., marine weather, and, of course (thanks, FLIR Systems!), thermal night-vision scopes. The e7 can, of course, share data with iPhones and iPads as well.
Furuno is a heavyweight in marine electronics, especially at the commercial level, and its civilian products benefit greatly from the knowledge gleaned from heavy-duty users. Its NavNet 3D system took home two Technology Awards from the National Marine Electronics Association awards that are of interest to cruisers: Best Radar for the NavNet 3D DRS Ultra High-Definition Radar series, and Best Navigation System for the NavNet 3D MFD 12, which is a multifunction display.
The NavNet 3D MFD 12 has a bright, 12.1-inch screen and comes preloaded with NOAA raster and vector charts, or you can buy and install C-Map or Navionics Vector data, all in MapMedia format. All four of these types of digital charts can be shown in 3D or 2D mode, and additional satellite photos can be downloaded from Furuno’s website.
Furuno’s NavNet system uses TimeZero technology, which allows for instant chart redraw with no lag whatsoever, even in 3D mode, and even when using radar or weather overlays. This is groundbreaking stuff, as older multifunction displays often have significant lag time, especially when interpreting large amounts of data. Traditionalists will like the 2D, top-down view, but they’ll also find it easy to think in new ways and use the 3D view. The “Roto-key” input method is user-friendly, especially once you’re familiar with the menus, pages, and command functions accessed by this knob. The interface is also helped along by the point-and-click cursor-pad control, but you can also connect a traditional mouse via the USB port. Furuno, we hear, is planning a major product release in February, and “touchscreen” is all anyone will say about it.
Adding other components to the NavNet 3D MFD 12 is easy, whether done via Ethernet, NMEA 0183, or the newer NMEA 2000 networking. A.I.S., radar, depth, Sirius Satellite Weather, Navtex/weatherfax—the MFD 12 will accept and display all of these inputs and more. With the Sirius Weather add-on, the MFD 12 can overlay the chart with weather information, providing a real-time look at what’s happening around you.