New Marine Electronics For 2016

By Lenny Rudow

With the dawn of a new year comes a flurry of new electronics. Here's what's new, and what's hot, for 2016.

The development of consumer electronics can be summed up with one word: rapid. That tablet you purchased a year ago is a slug compared to the latest and greatest, last month's cellphone seems ancient, and by tomorrow everything from your Blu-ray to your blender is likely to be technologically obsolete. The same can be said for the electronics sitting at the helm of your boat at this very moment. Don't believe it? Just check out the huge crop of new marine electronics that's hitting the market.

Raymarine eS Series

With the newest LightHouse operating system, 7-inch, 9-inch, and 12-inch HybridTouch multifunction displays, and a new type of multifunction rotary controller, Raymarine's eS series replaces the e generation. On the water, we found the rotary control a breeze to use and the latest LightHouse thoroughly intuitive. Wi-Fi, GPS, and fishfinding are all built into its brain, and the eS can be expanded with HD color radar, CHIRP or CHIRP DownVision sonar, IP and thermal cameras, multiple displays, autopilot, digital switching, engine data, and even entertainment systems. These units aren't on the market just yet, but expect to see the 7-inch models starting in April, and the 9-inch and 12-inch units in June. $1,099, $2,299, and $3,499 |

FLIR AX8 Thermal Monitoring System

If you have engine-room cameras on your boat, they just became outmoded. FLIR's new AX8 is an engine-room monitoring system that combines a thermal imager with a regular video camera to give you both types of views in the belly of the beast. And it's a vastly superior system, because you can set temperature parameters for up to six different areas. If the camera detects an overheating exhaust elbow or a glitch in the cooling system, alarm bells start ringing. Raymarine MFDs are the only ones carrying the software to make this particular feature happen at the moment, but others are expected to follow soon. $900 |

Humminbird Helix 9, 10, and 12 CHIRP

Helix 9, 10, and 12 CHIRP multifunction displays, from Humminbird, are larger more powerful cousins of the 5 and 7, which debuted last year. As you'd expect, these units pack the full range of fish-finding abilities found on pre-existing models, like Side, Down, and 360-degree Imaging. And chartplotting abilities are also cutting-edge, with AutoChart Live giving you the ability to create your own detailed charts in real-time. But these new versions are also Ethernet-capable units, which can be networked with additional stations or goodies like radar, AIS, and Minn Kota's iPilot link.

Processor speed gets a boost, too, with a 25-percent speed increase over existing Helix models. If you want the heavy artillery, naturally, you have to check out the 12 CHIRP. This unit has built-in sonar with frequency range capabilities of 200/83 kHz, 455/800/50 kHz, and a 28- to 250-kHz CHIRP. As an added bonus, CHIRP bandwidth settings are user-selected, so you can choose where in the frequency range the Helix will sweep. Prices can vary quite a bit depending on size, transducer type, and options; the range starts at $699 for the Helix 9 and goes to $2,299 for the 12 CHIRP.

Iris NightRunner2 and NightPilot

The Iris NightRunner camera system has been upgraded and tagged with a "2." Just what additional benefit does this get you? A vastly improved daylight camera with a 10x optical zoom and a 10x digital zoom. Thermal imaging also gets a boost with an upgraded vanadium-oxide thermal core. The camera comes with a housing and control pad that allow for 360-degree rotation and 180-degree tilt. Price for the Nightrunner 2 is $4,995, including the controller.

Also new from Iris is the NightPilot, a gyro-stabilized thermal imager that has an 8x digital zoom. The three-sensor gyro has a tilt range of 140 degrees and has a user-adjustable trim. The 320 x 240 resolution thermal core is U.S.-made, and the color palette can be inverted. $5,000 |

Simrad Halo Pulse Compression Radar

Remember when Broadband radar came out a few years back? Utilizing a continuous transmission wave as opposed to a microwave pulse, it offered vastly better short-range performance than traditional radar — and still does today. But its Achilles' heel was long-range limitations. Simrad's Halo Pulse Compression Radar eliminates this issue, by combining Broadband's close views and pulse technology's long range in one slick package. On top of that, it has a vastly reduced warm-up time (just 15 to 20 seconds), and the use of a helical gear train and brushless motor mean it's nearly silent as it spins. It shouldn't come as a surprise that the Halo won an NMMA Innovation Award for Electronics at the International Boatbuilders Exhibition and Conference last fall. $4,500 for the 3-foot open array, to $5,500 for the 6-foot open array | 

— Published: February/March 2016

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