Ready to hear about the latest and greatest? This season’s crop of cool new electronics presented at February’s Miami International Boat Show makes for a wild ride.
Lowrance TotalScan Transducer
One of the problems with today’s rapidly evolving fishfinders is that transducers need to be constantly replaced and/or added, to gain all the available functionality. Hence, the TotalScan from Lowrance. This all-in-one transducer (which comes with multiple mounting options) has CHIRP, StructureScan, and DownScan functionality in a single housing. $299 | lowrance.com
Furuno DRS4D-NXT Radar
Radar technology continues to improve, radically, with the introduction of a solid-state dome that takes advantage of Doppler technology. Compatible with NavNet TZtouch and TZtouch2 MFDs, the DRS4D-NXT is housed in a compact, 24-inch dome and can see up to 36 nautical miles into the distance. Yet power output is just 25 watts, and its warm-up time is nada. Furuno also uses what they call “RezBoost” to “synthetically” sharpen the 3.9-degree horizontal beam width to 2.0 degrees, enhancing target separation. Doppler allows it to track targets virtually every sweep, so speeds and courses can be assessed almost in real time. That also allowed Furuno to build in a target analyzer function that changes the target’s color depending on the level of hazard it presents. Stationary targets or those moving away from your boat are green, while targets moving toward your boat are painted red. $2,600 | furunousa.com
C-Map HRB Fishing Charts
Your ability to use high-resolution bathymetric fishing charts from TIMEZERO, beloved by offshore fishermen for finding fish-attracting structure, just improved, because they’re now available with MapMedia 3D charts for Furuno NavNet 3D, TZtouch, and TZtouch2 MFDs as well as Nobletec software. 3D presentation is enhanced with depth-shading, and the charts can also be viewed in 2D. $100 | mytimezero.com
Garmin Nautix In-View
Are you the captain of your boat, or the pilot of an F-16? The Nautix In-View display will have you wondering. This is a head-mounted, hands-free display that attaches to your sunglasses. Displaying critical data such as speed, heading, water depth, or engine RPM from a Garmin plotter or instrument, you’ll never have to glance away from the water to look at the dash again. Or, at least you won’t for up to eight hours of battery life. Weight is one ounce, a light sensor ensures readability in varying conditions, and it can be viewed through polarized or prescription lenses. $399.99 | Garmin.com
Ready to rock and roll on the water? Fusion has a new stereo system to help you do it. The MS-RA70 is designed to be compact and fit into a standard DIN stereo space, with a depth of les than four inches. Despite its diminutive nature, however, it offers all the Fusion features you expect: iPod/iPhone compatibility, two independent audio zones; a built-in four-channel, 50-watt amp, Bluetooth audio streaming; and Fusion-Link MFD compatibility. It’s built with an isolated glass-filled composite chassis to eliminate corrosion and is IPX7 waterproof. $249 (MS-RA70), $289 (70N, which adds an NMEA2000 connection) | fusionentertainment.com
Raymarine Quantum CHIRP Radar
Pulse-compression technology is used by the new Quantum CHIRP to deliver crystal-clear radar views both far into the distance (up to 24 miles) and up close. There’s no magnetron “bang” with Quantum, so items as close as 18 feet from the dome are visible. It also cuts warm-up time to a matter of seconds, weighs 50-percent less than traditional radars, doesn’t emit dangerous radiation, and draws less power (17 watts while transmitting).
Added bonus: installation is made easier since the Quantum CHIRP can transmit to Raymarine LightHouse II MFDs via Wi-Fi; all you need to route is a thin power cable. $1,599 | Raymarine.com
Garmin’s Still Going
There are also notable incremental jumps for a number of other Garmin units this year. The GPSMAP line expands, with the 8400/8600 series. These large-format MFDs come in 17-, 22-, and 24-inch display sizes, providing some of the highest resolution views in the marine market, and have improved processors. Prices range from $7,399 to $11,999.
The Garmin Panoptix system gets a boost with the addition of the PS21-TM transom-mounted transducer ($999), which offers forward sonar imaging. And the addition of the Compact Reactor ($1,099 to $1,999) to its GHP autopilot series means smaller, single-engine outboard boats can now be retrofitted with a Garmin autopilot. garmin.com
Simrad StructureScan 3D
After using this system, only one word comes to mind: WOW! Remember how bad “Jaws 3-D” was a few decades back? And how much better “Avatar” was in the “new” 3D? The difference here between old 3D fishfinders and the StructureScan 3D system is just as shocking. This system gives you views out to 600 feet from either side of your boat and 300 feet down, overlays waypoints, and allows virtual point-of-view panning and tilting of the images it creates. Just as important, it also paints fish in different colors (you choose the palette), which makes it much easier to spot them as compared to the views on older StructureScan systems. $999 (includes black-box module and transducer kit) | simradyachting.com
Garmin Fantom Radar
Garmin is also making headway in the radar department, introducing its 40-watt solid-state Fantom with Doppler. Available in four- and six-foot open arrays, the Fantom can reach all the way out to 72 miles and enjoys the ability to colorize moving targets, along with an “Echo Trail” feature that displays a fading target trail on-screen and allows you to quickly and easily determine the direction of moving targets. Fantoms are compatible with GPSMAP 7400/7600, 8000/8200, and 8400/8600 series units. $6,999 (Fantom 4), $7,499 (Fantom 6).
Gost Nav Tracker App
You want to “see” your boat anytime, from anywhere? The Nav Tracker app essentially allows you to do just that via cellphone. (If, of course, you have a Gost security system already installed). Just open the app, click on your boat, and you can instantly view the current location of your boat, its course and speed, and heading. You can establish a geo-fence and view tracking history as well. Free | gostglobal.com
Sick and tired of all those antenna sticking up off the hard top? Shakespeare takes care of that issue with the Jellyfish, a new antenna that combines GPS, 2G, 3G, 4G, and Wi-Fi in one small mushroom. It’s IP67 waterproof, measures 1.6 inches by 4.0 inches, and can be flush or pedestal mounted. $288 | shakespeare-marine.com
Xantrex Freedom HFS Inverter/Charger
No, inverter/chargers aren’t the most glamorous of products, but the new Freedom HFS is important to note because it has programmable “smart” battery management ability, is a sine-wave-output unit that can be used with sensitive electronics, and is available in 1,000 watt/55-amp and 2,000 watt/55-amp models. It also comes with quick-connect AC terminals and an ignition-control feature that prevents battery drain. $625 to $800 | xantrex.com