This spring, major marine-electronics manufacturers brought new products to the market in a flurry of high-tech advancements.
Furuno will excite anglers by joining the side-scanning and 3-D realm with the DFF-3D. This triple-beam sounder includes a black box that interfaces with NavNet, TZtouch, and TZtouch2 MFDs as well as a transducer with a built-in motion sensor that stabilizes the imagery to account for the boat’s motion. We were surprised to see how compact the transducer is (14 inches, including a fairing block) and to discover that it’s pinging at far lower frequencies than most competing products.
At 165 kilohertz, the DFF-3D has much better depth penetration and can see up to 650 feet off to the sides and down to 1,000 feet directly below. Yes, that’s several hundred feet farther than the competition can see. The downside to using a lower frequency is reduced detail, but most Furuno users will be quite willing to trade the ability to see individual twigs in order to peer that much farther into the depths. $2,095.
Simrad has upgraded its evo series with the evo3, a touch-screen MFD that also has a keypad with rotary dial. These units range from 7 to 16 inches, and the list of built-in features is so long we might run out of space: a SolarMAX HD IPS touch-screen (that works even when wet), GoFree Wi-Fi, dual-channel CHIRP, ForwardScan, StructureScan, TripIntel trip planning, autopilot integration, and engine monitoring.
Expansion options include Halo and/or Broadband 3G or 4G radar, ForwardScan collision-avoidance sonar, and additional functions via NMEA 2000 or ethernet compatibility. $1,299 to $5,499.
Standard Horizon GX6500 VHF Radio
Standard Horizon won a National Marine Manufacturers Association Innovation Award for its new GX6500 at the 2017 Miami International Boat Show.
This fixed-mount VHF is the first to hit the market with an integrated Class B AIS transponder. It also displays AIS target data on screen, or it can pipe the data over to your MFD via NMEA 2000. In addition, the GX6500 has a slew of features like integrated 66-channel WAAS GPS (so DSC calling can be made quickly and easily), ClearVoice noise canceling, a 25-watt dual-zone loudhailer, and the ability to connect with up to four wireless RAM4W microphones. Approximately $800.
Raymarine Axiom Models
Raymarine enters the new season — and wins an NMMA Innovation Award — with an all-new all-touch MFD series called Axiom, which includes 7-, 9-, and 12-inch models, and has an array of capabilities built in. Highlights include Wi-Fi; Bluetooth; and side-scanning, dual-channel CHIRP and 3-D fishfinding. Networking capabilities run the gamut, with radar, autopilot, video cameras, FLIR night-vision cameras, a remote tactile control, and NMEA2000 compatibility all in the mix.
The Axiom series runs on Raymarine’s latest software, LightHouse 3, and packs a quad-core processor for blazing-fast speeds. When hitched to a FLIR M100 or M200 night-vision camera, the Axiom incorporates a feature no other MFD can offer: ClearCruise. This thermal analysis highlights objects on the water with a yellow box, making it obvious when boats, buoys, or other potential hazards are within view. When we tested the Axiom, the bonded glass LCD screen was bright and beautiful and didn’t fade out from extreme viewing angles nor when seen through polarized glasses. $649 to $3,349.
Seaangel AS15 AIS Flare
Seaangel’s new AS15 AIS Flare is the world’s smallest SOLAS-approved AIS SART (search-and-rescue transponder) with DSC. And this thing really is tiny — its body is smaller than a deck of cards.
It’s available in regular and Dive versions, with the Dive model being waterproof down to a shocking 500 feet. It’s activated via button or ripcord, and once it starts transmitting, it broadcasts the AIS emergency signal to any vessel with AIS. The range extends up to 20 nautical miles, the battery is good for up to 72 hours, and it has a seven-year service life. $289 to $389.
ICOM Handheld VHF Radio
ICOM has a new handheld that all boaters should know about: the M93D. This floating 5-watt VHF has an internal GPS so it’s digital selective calling (DSC) active, blinks a strobe when in the water, has nine hours of battery life, and is submersible to IPX7 standards (3 feet for 30 minutes).
Icom says this is the slimmest handheld VHF around, and without taking a tape measure to every radio ever made, we’re inclined to believe the company. More interesting, however, is how light it is. You can slip it into your pocket and, at 10.6 ounces, barely notice it’s in there. We also like the relatively large 2.3-inch LCD screen. $350.
Lowrance HDS Carbon
Lowrance is stepping up its HDS (high-definition system) game with the HDS Carbon. This MDS series runs in 7-, 9-, and 12-inch models. All have some heavy-hitting capabilities, like multitouch SolarMAX IPS (in-plane switching) screens, dual-channel CHIRP, dual-core processors, and a slew of fish-finding abilities, including StructureScan 3D, SideScan, and DownScan imaging. They’re compatible with Broadband Radar, cartography from both C-Map and Navionics, Mercury VesselView, Motorguide Xi5 electric trolling motor SmartSteer control, and Lowrance Outboard Pilot.
You can even use the integrated Bluetooth to control Power-Poles and SonicHub2 entertainment systems. When we took the Carbon 12 out on the water, we found the IPS screen to be one of the most impressive features, because you can view it from extreme angles, even up to 175 degrees — you’ll lose sight of the LCD before it fades out, whether you’re wearing polarized sunglasses or not. $1,249 to $3,149.
Furuno X-Class Radar
Another big introduction from Furuno is the X-Class radar, which offers improved target detection and reduced minimum detection range (down to 20 meters, or about 65 feet), the ability to track up to 30 targets simultaneously, and target vectors showing heading and speed info.
Target trails make it easy to determine when targets are on the move, and a new bird mode makes it easier to find your feathered friends. The X-Class includes models ranging from 3.5-foot to 6-foot open arrays, which put out from 6 to 25 watts. $4,565 to $6,400.