Electronic Evolutions 2013By Lenny Rudow
Published: February/March 2013
Prepare to be awed by the latest electronic technologies and navigational novelties.
Things don't stay the same for long in marine electronics and, as always, a new year means there are plenty of cool new gadgets and goodies for us to check out. 2013 is no different, and we found these hot offerings being introduced at the fall boat shows up and down the coast.
Jeppesen jumps into 2013 with some new data delivery for C-Map that's downright dazzling. Their new high-res bathymetric imagery is far advanced over the old stuff. Jeppesen has taken survey data, track data, spot soundings, and other information, wrapped it into a vector cartography database, and created high-res digital charts for the East Coast, West Coast, Gulf of Mexico, and Great Lakes regions. See the old and new side by side (below), and the advantages are obvious -- detail levels are enhanced, and contour lines are far more numerous. Anglers should be particularly attracted to this new cartography, because the detail boost exposes many more of those humps, bumps, nooks, and crannies, which hold fish. Price varies based on coverage.
Another intro from Jeppesen is C-Map's Plan2Nav for Android platforms. Plan2Nav, C-Map's free navigational planning app, was introduced last year for Apple products. Now, Android users can get in on the action as well, free! www.jeppesen.com/marine
Raymarine is another electronics manufacturer that's been extremely active lately, and this year the progress continues with LightHouse v5 software for e-series, c-series, and a-series MFD units. This version comes with a lot of perks: video over IP camera connectivity, which allows you to swipe-and-view Ethernet-connected cameras; fuel management with calibrated fuel tank levels, low fuel alerts, and a dynamic fuel range ring, which can be overlaid on the chartplotter display. But our favorite is "Slew-to-Cue," which allows a new form of control for FLIR thermal-imaging cameras. This function allows you to identify a target onscreen, such as an AIS target or a radar target, by simply tapping on it. Then click the Slew-to-Cue function, and the camera will lock in and follow the target as your boat moves. You can also preset the system to automatically activate Slew-to-Cue whenever the MOB function is activated, so the camera always points to the MOB as you maneuver for retrieval. MSRP: This is a free software upgrade for a-, c-, or e-series users. www.raymarine.com
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What will the future hold? As we move farther into 2013, keep your eyes out for more integrated functionality in single units; note that much of the evolution we see in this year’s crop of gadgets includes getting more for less, in one package. At this point, most of our gear can be controlled remotely with phones or tablets, so it's a fair bet that future units will also integrate more wireless functionality. Another bright spot is pricing. Have you noticed that functionality has gone up while the pricing has stayed flat? That's a trend that we hope continues, as the electronics evolution moves forward.