Hot New Marine Technology

By Lenny Rudow

We didn't have to search too hard at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show to find innovative and exciting new stuff.

Marine electronics

BoatUS Magazine members are a savvy bunch, so we're guessing you notice that we regularly update you on what's new and innovative in the world of marine electronics. That's because those marine machines — just like other forms of consumer electronics — evolve these days at a breakneck pace. The typical boater would be hard-pressed to keep up with what's changing for the better every year. Here's our lowdown on the niftiest batch of electronic goodies we've seen arrive in the boating world.

Fusion EL series speakers

Fusion made a slew of announcements recently, starting with their shallow-mount EL series speakers. These require less than 2 inches of mounting-depth clearance, peak at 80 watts, and fit standard 6.5-inch cutouts. But what makes them different from Fusion's previous offerings is that LEDs are hidden behind the translucent injection-molded polypropylene cones. You can even get a remote that lets you control of color, brightness, speed, and mode. $119.99/pair

Fusion Signature speakers

Also in the speaker department, Fusion has added a line of tower speakers, the Signature Series. These 8.8-inch speakers are optimized for wakesports uses — when you want the tunes to create a soundtrack for the surfer. Signature Series speakers are IPX65-rated for water and dust protection, come with fixed or swivel mounts, peak at 330 watts and handle 130 watts RMS, and have a silk dome tweeter to complement the woven fiber-composite heat-pressed cone. $1,099 |

Garmin GPSMAP 8600xsv series

Garmin Autopilot remote

Garmin has had a slew of new introductions lately, starting with the GPSMAP 8600xsv series expansion. Previously 8600 units were only available in very large (read: expensive) sizes. But now you can enjoy features like built-in sonar; BlueChart g3 coastal cartography and LakeVü g3 maps with Navionics data and built-in Auto Guidance; in-plane switching screens; Wi-Fi; and full networkability, all in smaller and more affordable 10-, 12-, and 16-inch displays. $2,499.99 to $5,999.99

Garmin also announced upgrades to its cartography offerings and have developed a mount that provides a 12V power supply for the inReach MiniMarine. On top of this, they also introduced an additional remote control for the existing Reactor autopilot. Sure, it has a sunlight-readable display, is water-resistant, and has programmable presets — no big surprises there. But what we really like is the new "gesture control." A better name for it might be the "magic wand," because you can use this remote for point-and-steer driving. $249.99 |

Humminbird and Minn Kota announced the One-Boat Network, a system that lets your multifunction display (MFD), electric trolling motor, and Talon shallow-water anchor information-share as you use each to control different aspects of the boat. The Humminbird can tell the motor where to take it and when the Talon should drop down and take hold. If you use Spot-Lock to hover the boat in place with the Minn Kota and then decide you want to try a nearby waypoint you fished earlier, a touch or two on the MFD can tell the motor to take you there — but if you change your mind later, the units can talk to each other to take you right back to the spot you were locked in on earlier.

We've seen networked systems similar to this (though not with a shallow-water anchor as part of the deal), but where it gets really unusual is if you have an i-Pilot Link remote. When this little gadget is in the mix, you can use the remote's touchscreen to interface with all of the above from anywhere on the boat. Price varies by system (compatible Humminbird models include second-generation Bluetooth HELIX and SOLIX models, Minn Kota Ultrex, Ulterra, and Terrova with Bluetooth-enabled i-Pilot Link, and Talon shallow water anchors with Bluetooth) |

KVH Tracphone V3-HTS

KVH constantly finds new ways to shrink antenna size while boosting data speeds, and that's the entire concept behind its new TracPhone V3-HTS. With a 14.5-inch diameter and a 25-pound weight, this compact Ku-band antenna can provide 5 Mbps download and 2 Mbps upload speeds, which used to require larger, more expensive models.

The V3-HTS works with an integrated CommBox Modem, which brings all of the belowdecks components into an all-in-one unit with antenna control, modem, voice over IP adapter, network management software, and integrated Wi-Fi and Ethernet switches. $17,995; airtime packages start at $99/month |

Raymarine ClearCruise

Raymarine will change your reality with ClearCruise Augmented Reality. This function available on Axiom displays takes much of the information your electronics is gathering and serves it up on your MFD's camera views in new, easily readable, head-up display (HUD)-like ways. AIS (automatic identification system) data, for example, tags ships and boats that you see on screen with basic data. Roll the cursor over one of the items, and more in-depth info pops up. The same goes for other items, like markers and waypoints, which your unit has stowed in its digital brain. Added bonus: This feature is free to Axiom users and merely requires an upgrade to LightHouse software version 3.7 (though an AR200 video stabilization module and either a CAM220 or CAM210 need to be part of your system). |

Simrad Information Display system

Simrad checks the "coming soon" box with its Information Display system, which is due to start rolling off new boat assembly lines in the next year. This system is an evolution of the MFD-controlled digital switching systems we've seen recently but is pushing the systems integration to a new level. The concept is to provide an automotive-like display that gives you fingertip-tapping control of everything aboard, from rearview cameras to running lights. Added bonus: It will be capable of performing systems self-checks to provide a reliability boost from stem to stern. Price? There is no price. The system will be integrated onto new boats that we'll see hitting the water soon and is not available as an add-on or retrofit. | 

— Published: February/March 2019

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