Sanctuary Cove International Boat Show was again worth a visit this year for Bright Sparks, thanks to a raft of new products and a widening use of the latest technologies such as CHIRP sounders, broadband radar, night cameras, smartphone apps and keener prices in the pricey satellite arena. The big four — Raymarine, Navico, Furuno and Garmin — flexed their muscles strongly with new hardware and software releases.
A revitalised Raymarine showed off its Ray Remote and Ray Control iPhone and Android apps for remote control of their e and c series MFDs alongside the new stabilised T470SC thermal and infrared camera. These cameras are high-end gear, but have multiple uses including MOB retrieval. Rival Garmin launches its own marine low-light camera soon, the GCL20, which sells for $3849, and can be controlled from a plotter, so useful for tracking AIS targets.
Another battlefield is sounder technology, with both rivals now having CHIRP models, and Garmin’s GSD26 sounder joining the fray. Interestingly, Garmin told me they were dropping prices across some non-marine products, perhaps a reflection of the increasingly competitive electronics market.
Elsewhere, the Navico group continued its strong showing in radar releasing the Simrad 4G model, claiming a 50 per cent increase in range over the 3G model; giving a 36nm horizon for these FMCW powered units (rather than traditional magnetrons). The blurb mentioned anti-piracy capabilities, a serious consideration for bluewater sailors nowadays, and yet another use for long-range radar. I noticed a street price of $2250, by the way.
Furuno launched what they describe as the first multi-touch screen technology with their new TZtouch 9 and 14in multifunction displays. Furuno’s part ownership in French chart builder MaxSea means the new units have been built to get the best out of the software. Using the screens proved pretty intuitive, allowing me to place two fingers to measure, enlarge or move items. These hybrid units also come with a large knob for control.
Other charting supported includes Navionics and C-MAP, while rasta charting is a useful option for traditionalists. Prices are $6900 for the 9in and $8000 for the 14in. Another interesting product is Furuno’s new FCV 627sounder, with externally mounted bottom discrimination 600W transducer.
Over at Humminbird, boating supplier BLA’s product manager Sean Clancy demonstrated the new 500W transducer-depthsounder 788XD unit. Humminbird is claiming a staggering 700m depth with this unit, which sells for $1250, including Navionics charts and transducer. Usefully, the transducer can be retrofitted to some Humminbird sounders so check with them. Also on display was an interesting 360-degree transducer, giving a 50m radius image, which launches in October.
Jeppesen’s C-MAP has come to the smartphone party with the Australian release of the Plan2Nav app for iPad and iPhone devices, while an Android version is in the works they tell me. Each chart area costs $45 and like Navionics, GRIB weather is supported.
Rival Memory Map has also been busy. Its Android charting has a great new split-screen feature (not available on Apple products), which I played around with on a Samsung mini tablet at retailer Boat Books stand. This function means you can use a tab to pull down information while charting — course and distance information — as you can see from the picture hereabouts. Another advantage over Apple’s stringent approach is that the Android version can be downloaded in demo form and trialled for 10 days.
Talking of Apples, another new product I tried last month was the iPad3. The first thing I noticed when holding it, was how hot the new, slightly fatter version felt. Perhaps a handy feature offshore during a cold night, some may say! To run the iPad 3’s much more powerful screen the A5 processor was upgraded to A5X. According to test company Repair Labs it runs 9°C hotter (36°C) than the iPad2.
Web forums have plenty of chatter about overheating units so for us mariners, sticking them in a box is a worry. I spoke to Apple Australia about this and the advice is the units should ideally be run at (22°C) and allowed to ‘breath’. One heat reduction tip is to reduce the screen lighting. For charging, Belkin’s fast charger is another way to get the juice quickly back in.
Top photo: Sounder technology had plenty of new products at this year’s Sanctuary Cove show.
Furuno launched what it describes as the first multi-touchscreen technology in the new TZtouch 9 and 14in multifunction displays.
Humminbird’s 360-degree scan.
Memory Map charts offer split-screen functionality on Android.
Plenty of weatherproof-cased iPads, but beware the hotter-running new iPad3.
AST are now offering bundles for satphones in a bid to lower user costs, and new cradles as well.
The ubiquitous iPad controls most marine gear nowadays, including Fusion’s new IP700, which sells for $599.
From Trade-a-Boat Issue 428, June-July 2012. Story by Kevin Green. Photos by Kevin Green; SCIBS.