The latest and greatest in marine electronics continue to develop at a blistering pace.
Dare to blink, and you might miss a major development in the world of marine electronics. Our waterborne tech evolves so rapidly that keeping up with what’s hot and what’s new can be incredibly challenging. To make sure we help you stay up to date, we checked out all of the introductions at this year’s Miami international Boat Show. Our biggest takeaway: Don’t dare to blink.
KVH has rolled out a new TracPhone satellite antenna, the V7-HTS. This is a 60-centimeter (just under 2 feet) diameter KU-band unit that provides 10 Mbps download speeds (about triple the rate of older antennas the same size) and three Mbps upload speeds (about six times faster). In real-world terms, that means the new antenna is speedy enough to allow HD-quality streaming while you’re at sea. It also has dual-channel capabilities so you can use either the high-speed channel ($799 per month for 2 GB) or a slow speed unlimited-data channel ($499). $29,995 | kvh.com
The TZ iBoat iOS navigation app by Nobletec is designed for coastal boaters. It allows you to utilize both raster and vector charts and provides all the functionality you expect from a nav app, such as position and track plotting, route planning and recording, and 2-D or 3-D viewability. But unlike older apps, it also allows you to merge satellite photos with both types of digital charts, overlay the radar view from a Furuno DRS4W, and integrate AIS data all at the same time. $40 | mytimezero.com
There are plenty of MOB alarms on the market, but a new one from Weems & Plath called the CrewWatcher is one of the least expensive yet most effective we’ve seen. It consists of a small beacon slightly larger than a domino, which can be worn around the neck or attached to a life jacket, and an app running on your cellphone. If the beacon gets immersed in water or if the Bluetooth connection between the beacon and phone is severed by distance, an alert sounds on your phone within just a few seconds – even if the volume is off. Then a “rescue screen” pops up on the phone, with bearing, distance, and lat/long coordinates for where the MOB event took place. $89 | crewwatcher.com
Sure, you’ve seen cell-based remote monitoring and control systems for boats, but the latest from Siren, the MTC Plus, brings wireless sensors and NMEA2000 connectivity into the mix. Eliminating the need for wires with the sensors turns installation into an easy DIY project, whether you want to put on a bilge pump monitor or an unauthorized entry alarm. And adding NMEA2000 allows you to check on everything from tank levels to engine metrics with a mere swipe on your cellphone or tablet. $799 | sirenmarine.com
Get Connected, Take 2
If cellular-based communications don’t meet your needs, a satellite-based remote monitoring and control system like the new Mazu SentryMate might be in order. Working virtually anywhere in the world, the wireless SentryMate system can support up to 16 sensors or actuators and can be set up following the IFTTT (“if this, then that”) platform to sound an alarm or alert you via email or SMS text message for different events as you choose. $249, plus $10 to $25 per month service fee | mazu-marine.com
Get Completely Connected
Future remote monitoring and control systems will likely go beyond what we see today and incorporate true “internet of things” status. Wait a sec — tomorrow is here, if your boat has Nautic-ON. This “smart boating platform” uses 4G LTE to allow remote monitoring via an app, but it also includes remote troubleshooting, service-provider information, and remote diagnostics. Not only will you get an alert if there’s an issue, but your mechanic will, too — and if a fault code or maintenance alert comes through, your mechanic has a complete diagnostic history at his or her fingertips. $800 | nautic-on.com
Ratcheting Up The Offerings
Wave WiFi has upped the ante with its Rogue Reach DB, a new 32-inch-tall dual-band (2.4 and 5.1 – 5.8 GHz) Wi-Fi antenna with 580- to 600-MHz processing power. It now allows for a ratchet-mount installation, so the antenna can be folded down for going under bridges or for winter storage. The unit is weatherproof and houses all of the ethernet converter hardware, circuits, and the Cat5 cable connection. $645 | wavewifi.com
Vesper Marine makes a splash this year with its WatchMate XB-8000 smartAIS, a black-box transponder that uses your existing multifunction display (MFD) to provide automatic identification system (AIS) information, with an added twist: safety alarms have been incorporated to alert you to potentially dangerous situations. Its ability to calculate crossing situations is one of the most useful functions (anchor alarm and man overboard retrieval are also in the mix), and unlike other systems, the smartAIS can also communicate with the user via a smartphone or smartwatch app. The system can be set so that even if the device is powered off or the app has been closed, an alarm still gets triggered. $799 | vespermarine.com
Flight Of The Valkyries
If you want to capture über-cool video as you do battle with a billfish, you’ll love the new feature Raymarine has developed for its Axiom system. A simple software upgrade allows you to interface your MFD with a DJ Spark or Mavic drone and see what its camera sees from right at the helm. You also get basic control of the drone on-screen, as well as drone position, camera position, and direction of travel data. You can even instruct the drone to lock in on your boat and shadow it, so you can set it and forget it as the action ensues. Free for existing Axiom owners | raymarine.com
In the why-didn’t-I-think-of-that category, we have the decidedly un-tech and simplistic Seaview Retrofit Cable Gland. Though it’s little more than two half-circles that clip together to form a watertight bond around new or pre-existing cables, we knew you DIY boaters would want to know about it. Unlike the old-style clamshells (or a big, goopy wad of silicone) these things are guaranteed waterproof to IPX6/7 standards. $21 | seaviewglobal.com