New Electronics: Innovation On Display

By Lenny Rudow

The first flurry of new electronics were revealed at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Here is a look at the latest ...

Trying to keep tabs on the newest marine electronics gear is like living in a time warp: The moment you get a grip on reality, that reality has become history. And right now, although many boaters are shoveling snow or stuffing the wood stove, the newest nav gear is just becoming available. Whether you plan on making an upgrade this spring or you just want to keep abreast of the most recent trends and developments in marine electronics, read on because here's the scoop on what's new and what's hot.

Fusion is looking to tap into the current popularity of standup paddleboarding, kayaking, and canoeing with the StereoActive. What makes it different from other portable Bluetooth speakers is the fact that it's IPX7 waterproof and it floats. It also has a "puck" mounting system that allows you to secure it to just about any flat surface, a USB flash drive, and large scalloped buttons designed so you can manipulate them with the end of a paddle. Added bonus: It has kick-butt sound qualities and pumps out 40 watts of power through dual 2.5-inch directional speakers. When we gave one a listen, we were awed at the booming bass and titillating treble. $299 | fusionentertainment.com

Furuno is peering into the foggy future with its 6-kilowatt DRS6AX X-class radar. Available with 3.5-, 4-, and 6-foot open-array antennas, the DRS6AX is designed for use with Furuno's existing NavNet TZtouch and TZtouch2 systems. Optimizing maximum pulse length (extended from 0.8 to 1.2 microseconds) delivers 50 percent more power on target than previous DRS radar, and "Fast Target Tracking" can detect and display target vectors with heading and speed for up to 30 targets. The gearbox is also 20-percent lighter and quieter than in previous models. $5,395 (with 3.5-foot antenna) | furunousa.com

Garmin is flush with innovation this year, starting with the GMR Fantom 18- and 24-inch radar domes. These antennas bring Fantom performance to closed-dome systems appropriate for boats that are too small to support a large open-array antenna. They're solid-state pulse-compression units pumping out 40 watts of power. Doppler processing aids in tracking moving targets, and Garmin's "MotionScope" tags targets with different colors to identify and mark potential collision threats. $1,999/$2,799 | garmin.com

Sailors will be interested in Garmin's new gWind Wireless 2 Transducer, which uses a three-bladed prop and twin fins to provide accurate wind speed and angle data. What's cool about this new anemometer is that it requires zero wiring. Power comes courtesy of an integrated solar panel with battery backup, and data transmissions are sent via an ANT connection to GNX wind instruments or compatible (GPSMAP 7400/7600 or 8400/8600) chartplotters. $699 | garmin.com

Garmin 2017 GPSMAP line

Garmin's GPSMAP line has been favored by many boaters for a long time, and as of 2017, that line is expanding. The GPSMAP 7x2/9x2 come as touch-screen chartplotter or combo units (with 1-kilowatt CHIRP sonar and dubbed "xs"). The GPSMAP 10x2/12x2 units are for people who prefer a keypad interface (read: old folks!) and also come in a combo version (dubbed "xsv"). On top of the expected GPSMAP features, all of these units have been enhanced for sailing with layline, wind-rose, and tide and current information featured, and they also have ANT support for use with a number of Garmin's wireless accessories. $799-$2,999 | garmin.com

Garmin VHF Radios

Garmin also has a pair of new VHF radios for 2017. The VHF 110 and VHF 210 AIS marine radios boast NMEA 2000 compatibility, 25 watts of power, NOAA weather alerts, position tracking (for up to three boats), and full integration with Garmin GPSMAP and multifunction-display (MFD) systems. The 210 adds AIS (receive only) into the mix, and it comes with two-way hailing abilities. $279/$599 | garmin.com

Yet another new introduction made by Garmin is the Panoptix PS51-TH FrontVu transducer. This is a forward-looking, narrow-beam (20-degree) sonar with 300 feet of range that's designed to help you avoid grounding. At the same time, digital (down-looking) depth and water-temperature data can be displayed, eliminating the need for a separate transducer to provide basic information. The PS51-TH displays virtually in real time on 7- and 9-inch echoMAP CHIRP, GPSMAP 7x2/9x2/10x2/12x2, and GPSMAP 8400/8600/7400/7600/7x1/8x0/10x0 units. $1,499 | garmin.com

Mercury Marine VesselView Mobile

Mercury Marine doesn't usually come to mind when we talk about marine electronics, but the company now has its head in this game, too, with VesselView Mobile. This is an app available for iOS and Android that lets a boater tap into the Mercury's SmartCraft brain. You'll need to gear up with the VesselView Mobile Module, which plugs into the engine and allows a Bluetooth connection between SmartCraft and your phone. Once you're into the data network, access info ranging from fuel management to fault codes. Judges at this year's International Boatbuilders Exhibition and Conference were so impressed that they bestowed an Innovation Award on VesselView Mobile. App is free; module costs $275 | vesselviewmobile.com

SI-TEX Explorer NavPro

SI-TEX can help you transform any VGA display or computer monitor into a black-box-driven nav system by using its new Explorer NavPro. The NavPro has HDMI video output, NMEA 2000 networking ability, a potent processor for seamless operation, and 4-gigabyte mark, track, and route memories. The system can go wireless, too, if you add an RF Remote Control ($125). $959 with GPS antenna; $699 without | si-tex.com

Raymarine i70s Multifunction Display

Raymarine has introduced a new version of its color MFD, the i70s. These 4.1-inch LCD optically bonded units can be custom-configured to show a range of digital and/or graphical displays, including analog styles. They can integrate with current SeaTalk networks, first-generation SeaTalk networks with an adaptor cable, and NMEA 2000 networks with a DeviceNet adaptor. The i70s has a glass-bridge design to match eS and gS series MFDs and comes with both black and gunmetal bezels to match the look of existing systems. $479 | raymarine.com

Simrad has introduced the GO9 XSE, the newest — and largest — touch-screen MFD in the GO series. Like its smaller siblings (the GO5 XSE and the GO7 XSE), the GO9 XSE features make for quite a list: a multi-touch widescreen display; a blistering-fast 10-hertz GPS receiver; autopilot control; built-in CHIRP, StructureScan, and ForwardScan imaging; and built-in Wi-Fi. Unlike the others in the GO series, this new 9-inch version adds integrated radar display. $1,049 to $2,699, depending on accessories, transducers, and mapping options | simrad-yachting.com 

Lenny Rudow is fishing and electronics editor for BoatUS Magazine, senior editor at Boats.com, and president of Boating Writers International.

— Published: February/March 2017


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