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February 12, 2013

Helm Electronics for 2013

Dedicated stand-alone electronics hold their own at the helm.


Click through the images above to see units by a number of manufacturers.

In the current arena of integrated and networked marine electronics, a place still exists for stand-alone ­instruments. Maybe you need a big, dedicated sonar, so a reliable fish finder is a constant; maybe you want to be sure that after a long run to the canyons, or the deep Gulf, if something goes on the blink, you can keep fishing. Or maybe you run a bay boat or skiff, and depth is seldom a concern, but you need a plotter, a set of electronic charts sitting atop your console. Stand-alones are in demand for several reasons, and manufacturers continue to provide anglers what they need. 

Most traditional perhaps is a dedicated fish finder augmenting a networked helm. Recognizing this option, ­Furuno has rolled out two new stand-alones, the 5.7-inch FCV627 ($995) and the 8.4-inch FCV587 ($1,695). “These ­finders are a great fit on center consoles,” says Furuno’s Jeff Kauzlaric. “But we’ve 

put them on everything from 20-foot trailer boats to the 50-footers, as both backups and primary sounders.”

Fishermen have preferences and budgets, he says. “If they are going to fit ­something in a budget and can’t afford all Furuno, they go with a less expensive chart plotter and a Furuno fish finder. There are still people out there who want to have separate units or who want to mix and match manufacturers.” 

Si-Tex Marine Electronics has built a loyal following on stand-alones. “We are one of the few companies that still has dedicated stand-alone products,” says Si-Tex vice president Allen Schneider. The success of the stand-alones, he says, is based on redundancy, simplicity and economy. “The first advantage of stand-alones is the simplicity of setting it up and forgetting it. The second benefit is redundancy. With a stand-alone, if one display goes out, you have lost only a portion of the data you need. On a network-based MFD system, if the display goes out, you have lost everything.” 

Another consideration is ­upgrading particular elements of the system, which is simplified with single-purpose ­machines. “If new technology comes along and you want to upgrade one piece of your system, you do not have to scrap the entire package to take advantage of the technology — just replace that portion of the package,” says Schneider. Si-Tex’s newest introduction is the 7-inch SNS-700 plotter ($1,199), which comes loaded with C-Map Max ­cartography, and is also available with a built-in-sonar option.