Boat Electronics 2013

By Lenny Rudow
Published: April/May 2013

The 2013 crop of hot new electronics introduced at the Miami boat show is one doozey of a display of digital developments.

Darwin may have looked at evolution in terms of millions of years, but when it comes to marine electronics, epochs go by in a matter of months. The proof is plain to see. Just check out how many new and advanced items were introduced this year, even with a delicately improving economy. Sure, we have a slew of new apps, more system integration than ever before, and a series of upgraded offerings. But there are also imaginative items that give new meaning to the word "innovation." So perk up and pay attention, because these hot new goodies soon will be coming down the pike to a marine electronics store near you.

Photo of the B&G Zeus Touchscreen with SailSteer

B & G has added sailing-specific SAILSTEER and SAILTIME features to the Zeus touch-screen multi-function display (available in seven-, eight-, and 12-inch versions). SailSteer is a pre-fab sailing screen arrangement that gives prominent display of nav functions important to boaters who depend on the breeze, while SailTime brings up a view of tacking angles without the need for an active waypoint.

Photo of the Bad Elf GPS Pro

Bad Elf GPS Pro may be a funny name, but this little do-dad is anything but laughable if you want to bring GPS functionality to a variety of devices all at the same time. The Bad Elf GPS Pro can interface with up to five units simultaneously (via Bluetooth), or can be used as a stand-alone GPS and data-logger, thanks to the 128 x 96 pixel LCD screen. It's compatible with iPods, iPhones, iPads, and iPad Minis. But the Elf is rated IPX4, which is "splash-proof," and in my experience splash-proof electronic devices don't survive for long on boats. I'd slide the Elf into a waterproof bag before stepping aboard. List price is $179.

Photo of the DeLorme InReach


DeLorme broke new ground last year with the InReach, a two-way satellite texting device. This year they till that same ground, by improving the InReach dramatically. It's now outfitted with a color LCD touch-screen with keyboard, so you no longer need a cell phone to text in an emergency. You'll still want to pair the unit with your phone (via Bluetooth) and use it when sending long texts as the small screen isn't ideal for tapping out book-length messages. But for emergency use and simple texts, this little charm is all you'll need to reach out and touch someone, worldwide, at a fraction of the cost of traditional two-way satellite communications. The new InReach is IP68 waterproof/dust-proof, and has a rechargeable internal lithium battery. More info soon will be available on their website.

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