There’s always a lot for an Electronics writer/geek/junkie to look at and write about at the annual Miami International Boat Show, and this year is no exception. I spent the day attending meetings, press conferences, and just wandering around the huge Miami Convention Center, and at the end of a long day I’ve got some pretty neat things to share with you.
First up was the annual West Marine presser, where VP in charge of new products, Chuck Hawley, tells us what West has picked as the company’s “Hot Picks for 2013.” Much to my delight, a product that we’d already featured in the magazine, the DeLorme inReach, a two-way satellite communication device was one of the products named. I’d of course like you to scan either our website or your pile of back issues for our complete rundown on the inReach, but a quick explanation seems to be in order, so here goes: The inReach allows you to send and receive text messages, allows others to pinpoint your location and/or track you online. It also has an SOS feature that’s been proven in the field more than once. I like it because it’s priced well at $249, integrates with your iPhone, iPad, or Android device, offers several different monthly pricing structures, and is rugged as all get out. www.inreachdelorme.com
A new product introduced today was Ocean Signal’s rescueME PLB1, which is rightly claimed as the World’s smallest Personal Locator Beacon (PLB). I like small PLBs, because the smaller the PLB, the more likely you’re going to carry or wear it. PLBs WILL save your life, and everyone who sails offshore (or even inshore, for that matter) should own and use one.
The rescueME PLB1 uses the COSPAS/SARSAT 406 system of satellites as well as a 66-channel GPS to pinpoint your position accurately and quickly steer SAR assets your way. As with all PLBs, the rescueME’s battery doesn’t last as long as a full-sized EPIRB, but the manufacturer claims that it exceeds the minimal 24-hour requirement by a good 12-hours, even in cold water. Another bonus is the guaranteed 7-year stored battery life, which outpaces other, similar units by two years.
Ocean Signal is awaiting final approval from the FCC before releasing the unit for sale in the U.S., but they expect that to happen as soon as this April. Retail pricing on the rescueME slides in line with the other offerings in that market at $249.00, which is a cheap price to pay for such a guaranteed lifesaver. www.oceansignal.com
A rescueME attached to an inflated PFD
A nice evening boat ride with the folks at FLIR and Raymarine offered a boatload of journalists a view of some new products by both companies. FLIR, of course, recently purchased Raymarine, and we’re starting to see some pretty solid products as a result of the merge. I’ll get into more detail about several of the new products in another post tomorrow, but the one that really caught my attention was the latest model of FLIR’s handheld camera, the FirstMate II. I’ve always liked the idea of the thermal-imaging FirstMate series, which allows you to see things you wouldn’t ordinarily see in nighttime or poor-visibility conditions, but now they’ve upped the bar by introducing a feature they call InstAlert.
What InstAlert does is going to make anyone who’s spent any time at all looking for an MOB at night very, very pleased. It automatically highlights the strongest heat signatures in the image in bright red. Seeing as how there are few, if any, things in the water that give off as much heat as a human head (or hands), this new feature will make MOB recovery that much easier. The FirstMate II is priced very well, at $1,999.00, and should be part of every boat’s bag of safety tricks. www.flir.com