Furuno is one of the premier manufacturers of marine electronics and has a reputation for robust cutting edge technology that stands the test of time and the harsh marine environment. Furuno’s latest offerings in the chartplotter realm certainly show that they are living up to their reputation.
Their offerings include the Furuno NavNet 3D™ Multifunction Displays and the top of the line Furuno NavNet TZtouch™ Multi Touch Multifunction Displays. The NavNet 3D models come in 8.4”, 12.1” and a black box version. The NavNet TZtouch models come in 9” and 14” models and they are the models we will be discussing in this article.
There are several unique features that the Furuno NavNet TZtouch models offer that set them apart from the competition (a good video demonstrating them can be found on http://youtu.be/LHkaTRaJjSc)
As would be expected there is a very bright and clear backlit LED screen that makes viewing the information on the screen easy even in bright sunlight and they boast an excellent anti-reflective coating, but their screens are different. Looking very sleek, they are designed to fit in even the most clean and modern bridge with their edge-to-edge glass displays.
These chartplotters look exceptionally good when flush mounted and have the look and feel of an Apple designed tablet. The TZtouch display is not a tablet, however, but a very capable chartplotter and multifunction display.
“…with the ability to connect your iPad or iPhone wirelessly to your TZtouch, and now you have a powerful chart plotter in the palm of your hand.”
The TZtouch also has unique cartography capability. The Chartplotters come standard with NOAA’s raster and vector charts but can also be augmented with your choice of either the Jeppesen C-Map cartography or the Datacore Navionics vector charts. You can decide who has the best cartography for the areas that you need to navigate and select your TZtouch with that manufacturer capability. You are NOT limited to just one choice as with other manufacturers chartplotters.
The TZtouch has other features that make it stand out, such as Furuno’s Time Zero™ technology that allows for no delay instant chart redraw as you zoom and pan.
They also offer MapMedia integration that merges map data with satellite imagery. Satellite images are overlaid on the charts with landmass (areas with zero water depth having no opacity and the opacity increases as the depth increases so that you can see the effect of the satellite imagery in shallow water but can also see easily where the shallow water disappears to deeper water. It’s a visual feature that really makes the combination of chart and overlay work well.
“…the user interface of TZtouch not only easy, but intuitive.”
Where Furuno’s TZtouch displays really shine is when using their exclusive multi-touch gestures. Furuno’s communications manager, Jeff Kauzlaric says “the TZtouch series is the first MFD chart plotter to incorporate familiar multi-touch controls. Every day you use your smart phone or tablet and now you can use those same familiar gestures, like pinch to zoom, on your chart plotter. This makes the user interface of TZtouch not only easy, but intuitive. Match that with the ability to connect your iPad or iPhone wirelessly to your TZtouch, and now you have a powerful chart plotter in the palm of your hand.”
One of the most intuitive and most desirable of their multi-touch gestures is that of the “pinch to zoom” feature. With two fingers you can zoom in and out just by using a pinching motion, just as you would with a photo on a smart device. Another useful touch gesture is that of a touch and swipe to change orientation. By placing one finger still on the display and swiping with a second, you can change the orientation of the cartography. This is a motion unexpectedly I found myself using a lot when able.
Furuno also offers a two-finger swipe where you use two fingers in a swiping motion and it will change the chart from a 2D mode to a 3D mode and will change the perspective depending on how long the swipe is.
The last of the multi-touch features is a user customizable two-finger tap that can bring up a custom feature such as the home screen, to lay down a waypoint or a man overboard feature, or whatever the user deems appropriate.
When you first view the NavNet TZtouch it strikes you as an advanced and capable chartplotter and multifunction display but it really strikes you as a top of the line, well designed machine when you use its interface and find all the well thought out and applied functions of the machine. The TZtouch is certainly a top contender in its field.