The Miami International Boat Show in February is usually the launching point for all varieties of innovative new boating products. This year there were certainly more innovations than previous years and these included some interesting new chartplotters. New offerings from Garmin, Raymarine and Standard Horizon were good examples of what is new in chartplotters.
Garmin introduced a completely new line of chartplotters, including its brand new 8000/8500 series fixed mount multi-function displays at the show . Attendees were impressed with what they had to show. These sleek edge to edge touch screen glass displays are available in eight inch, twelve inch and fifteen inch displays in the 8000 series and fifteen inch, seventeen inch and nineteen inch touch screen monitors for the 8500 black box chartplotter series. All of the 8000/8500 chartplotters offer a fully integrated control. Now offering pinch-to-zoom and two-touch station control (which changes the display on multiple displays simultaneously to predetermined configurations), these new sleek low-profile flush mountable displays are even faster than ever, utilizing dual core processors. If you want a truly custom look to your helm then you can opt for a custom flat mount, allowing a super sleek glass helm. With Garmin’s new 10Hz GPS antenna the position updates rapidly (ten times per second) allowing for super smooth tracking on chart and improved accuracy. Full integration with all of Garmin’s sounder technologies, radars, autopilots, wireless connectivity, NMEA 2000, multimedia, engine data and various apps makes these a great choice for a single or multiple display system aboard.
Garmin didn’t stop with introducing just the 8000/8500 displays. It also revamped some of its other chartplotters and made some significant upgrades to already exceptional machines. The very popular seven-inch touch screen chart plotter got a facelift and a power boost. The new 741xs (with built-in sounder) and 741 gained 60% more processing power and a new built-in HD-ID sonar with CHIRP capabilities. With the new super fast GPS antenna and full wireless connectivity along with dual SD card slots this machine has seen major performance upgrades, making it a great choice in its size and price range.
Even Garmin’s smaller plotter/fishfinders, the 500xs series, got a significant upgrade. Gone are the smaller four-inch models but with new five-inch models available at the same price point of their smaller ancestors they will not be missed. Garmin’s improved HD-ID sounders allow for new technology and a much-improved sounder image. For the budget minded boater even the least expensive models in the echoMAP 50s series have seen updated sounders, sonar recording capability, GPS antennas and wireless connectivity. No matter which model you go with, the technology is impressive and the motto of “The Power Of Simple” has never been more applicable.
Raymarine also introduced an equally remarkable small sounder with the all-new Dragonfly Sonar/GPS. The compact combo unit sports a 5.7-inch super bright display that can be seen in bright sunlight. Controls are simple with just three buttons and a very simple and easy-to-use user interface. The chartplotter is capable of displaying Navionics Silver, Gold and Hot Maps cartography. Where this new unit truly shines is with the sounder. It utilizes all new CHIRP technology for a remarkably detailed image of the bottom and structure. The Dragonfly can operate in two different sonar channels with high-resolution DownVision and sonar modes (which can be run simultaneously and displayed side by side.) The machine does an exceptional job of optimizing the sonar image automatically so you don’t have to spend time adjusting settings to get the optimal image. Even the mount is a clever new design with a small footprint and is easily adjustable to any angle. The mount also accepts a Thule racks brand locking cylinder for added security aboard. The Dragonfly is a very advanced, yet easy to use, Chartplotter/Sounder that would be a worthy of consideration for anyone looking for a machine in this size range.
Another innovative chartplotter series introduced at the Miami show were the Standard Horizon CPN1010i and the CPN700i. I have written about these in another online article for All At Sea but it is worthy of mentioning the specifications again. The all-new super bright touch screens are bright and easy to see and smooth to operate. Where these chartplotters really stand out from the crowd is with their stand-alone wireless capability and Internet Web browser and media player built in. Also a game changer is the capability of operating with Jeppesen’s new C-Map 4D cartography with the upcoming Easy Routing (meaning automatic routing) and Guardian Alarms. These machines also have the capability of taking raster and vector charts and rotating and pitching them at will. All these innovations bring Standard to the forefront of chartplotter technology.
Innovation at the Miami show was everywhere and if you’re in the market for a chartplotter, you certainly have some new models and technologies to consider.