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December 29, 2008

Happy New Gear

Radical technology, sophisticated function and an expanded range of choices headline the new electronics lineup for 2009.
100-0109electronics furuno

Furuno
Furuno has introduced a pair of new professional-grade fish finders that incorporate the cutting-edge technology and improved digital signal processing featured in their top-end gear. The 10.4-inch FCV-295 ($2,995) and the 12.1-inch FCV-1150 ($4,595) are color LCD finders that can be installed with output power of 1, 2 or 3 kW, depending on the way you fish. Especially helpful when dialing in on particular species or conditions, the sonar offers "slewable" dual-frequency tuning from 28 to 200 kHz for precise configuration that yields maximum detail and return. Furuno's White Line display emphasizes the contrast between sea bottom and bottom fish returns, aiding interpretation. An increased transmission rate and sophisticated Quick Gain control combined with advanced digital filtering maximize the usability of the screen image. Both have NMEA 0183 ports and are Ethernet compatible for linking with Furuno's NavNet 3D network. www.furunousa.com

Raymarine
Raymarine has introduced a brand new line of stand-alone chart plotters and fish finders. The A-series brings the sophistication of top-of-the-line technology - previously available only in the higher-end E-series and flagship G-series instruments - into reach for smaller helms and more modest budgets. The 5-inch A50 (from $1,075), the 5.5-inch A57 (from $1,549) and the 6.4-inch A70 (from $1,899) are available in both plotters and plotter/fish finder models. Plotters may be purchased with a variety of preloaded Navionics cartography packages. Especially attractive for center console and open boats, each has a built-in GPS antenna that eliminates the need for an external antenna in abovedecks installations. The A-series incorporates Raymarine's HD Digital Sonar fish-finding technology augmented with an innovative Fan Beam transducer that generates an elliptical beam with a rotary adjustment for extra-wide viewing, either side-to-side or fore and aft. An optional SR50 receiver ($599) adds Sirius satellite weather overlays and forecasting; the AIS259 receiver ($1,120) adds AIS data. The A-series is compatible with NMEA 0183 and with an adapter, NMEA 2000. www.raymarine.com

Simrad
Simrad's GB40 provides the second generation of the "Glass Bridge." Aimed at boats from 35 to 75 feet, it's available with 10.4-inch, 15-inch or 19-inch flat-panel TFT high-resolution color displays. Central to the improved functionality is weather data capability enabled with a SIRIUS satellite weather module, providing high-resolution digital-graphics data overlays on the navigation charts. Weather content includes weather radar; lightning strikes; buoy reports; NOAA marine-zone forecasts; storm tracks, watches and warnings; weather, wind and wave forecasts; barometric pressure; sea-surface temps and more. The heart of the system, the NavComputer, comes preloaded with global Jeppesen Marine MAX Pro cartography. Regional charts include 3-D presentations of bathymetric data, land elevation data and satellite photography. Modular design allows the addition of a dual-frequency echo sounder and a wide range of Simrad radars. www.simrad.com

Garmin
Garmin's GHP 10 Marine Autopilot ($3,000) and GHC 10 Marine RF Autopilot Remote Control ($399.99) offer precise control and freedom to attend to fishing and rigging while your boat maintains the course you've chosen. As is the Garmin tradition, the emphasis here is on accuracy and ease of use. The autopilot incorporates patented "Shadow Drive" - a capability that automatically disengages the autopilot if the helm is turned, allowing manual override without disengaging the autopilot. Once a new course has been manually set, the autopilot automatically resumes control. The GHP 10 is equipped with an NMEA 2000 interface and is suitable for boats up to 70 feet, with outboard, inboard or stern drives and hydraulic steering. The GHC 10 Remote Control has a range of 45 feet and includes standard commands such as Standby/Engage, Man Overboard (MOB) and Turn Left/Right. Also included are programmable commands, such as navigation by GPS, and preprogrammed trolling patterns. The remote is waterproof, and it floats. www.garmin.com

Sea TEL
The ST14 satellite TV antenna ($5,695) from Sea Tel is a 16-pound, 14-inch dish incorporating many of the same features as Sea Tel's proven Coastal line of antennas. The ST14 is compatible with Dish Network and Bell TV HDTV services. www.seatel.com

Shakespeare
Shakespeare's upgraded and improved version of CruiseNet, the CN-1200 ($1,095), provides full high-speed Internet on the water. The price has dropped, and the new model is more compact than the original yet still offers the speed and convenience of shoreside broadband. Robust engineering provides a heavier-duty, more marine-resistant alternative to PC card systems. Installation requires only that the PC be plugged into the receiver - or the service can be accessed wirelessly with a Wi-Fi option. Sprint, Verizon and Alltel networks are standard, and other versions are available for AT&T and Telus. A one-year subscription to Shakespeare's Full Throttle web accelerator is included. www.shakespeare-marine.com

FLIR
FLIR's Navigator II provides the benefits of night vision in a size, price and configuration that's rapidly finding a place on sport-fishing boats. Anglers have discovered that thermal imaging reveals floating debris, weed lines, current and temperature breaks and even surfacing fish, as well as enhancing navigation and situational awareness in the dark. Navigator II is available in two configurations that work with most MFDs, both with a wide-angle 36-degree lens: fixed mount ($4,999) and pan/tilt model ($8,999).

Zoom models with pan and tilt functions include a 2X zoom feature for extra range performance and added safety. Graph overlay indicates where the pan/tilt is pointing, and a Home button returns the camera head to a known position. www.flir.com

Lowrance
Lowrance has blown the doors off its existing line of fish finders/plotters with the introduction of the HDS (High Definition System), which brings together parent company Navico's most innovative features and technology in a revamped line. The HDS Series is available in 5-, 7-, 8- and 10-inch stand-alones ($749 to $2,299). All of them incorporate the "Broadband Sounder" digital fish-finding technology introduced as a black box last year, and plotters support the full line of Navionics cartography and include two high-speed SD slots for upgrades and additions. Built into the case of all units is a 16-channel GPS/WAAS antenna, eliminating the need for an external GPS for plotter functions. All are fully NMEA 2000 compatible and networkable to accommodate Sirius weather radio and radar, and they are configured to accommodate future Lowrance products. www.lowrance.com

Airmar
Three new 1 kW transducers from Airmar were inspired by the demands of beach and surf launching common to anglers in Australia and the Pacific Northwest. The TM258, TM260 and TM270W bring high performance to transom-mount configuration. Fitted for transom angles from 2 to 20 degrees, these new mounts deliver bottom imaging for 600 W or 1 kW sounders at up to 40 knots. A kick-up bracket prevents damage in the event of impact, and all have Airmar's fast-response water-temperature sensor built in. The TM258 ($695) model's 50/200 kHz elliptical beam covers a large bottom area at up to 1,600 feet deep. The TM260 ($995) mirrors the performance of the popular B260 with a 19-degree beam at 50 kHz and 6-degree beam at 200 kHz. The TM270W ($1,095) delivers dual-frequency wide-beam performance at both 50 kHz and 200 kHz. www.airmartechnology.com

KVH
KVH's new, ultra-compact 12.5-inch TracVision M1 ($2,900) offers high-quality satellite TV programming from DIRECTV while at the dock, sailing or cruising around the continental U.S. and coastal waters, and the company recommends it for boats down to 20 feet. www.kvh.com

Standard Horizon
Standard Horizon claims its venerable Eclipse VHF is the most-installed marine radio in history and - in tribute to its popularity - has introduced a modernized version, the Eclipse DSC+ GX1100S ($139.99). The newest morph features Class D DSC and an LCD screen that displays latitude/longitude, channel names and other information. The polling feature displays other vessels' locations and - when connected to a chart plotter via NMEA 0183 - shows their positions as an overlay, making it an ideal "team fishing" tool. Available in black or white in flush or panel mount, it's waterproof and submersible to 3 feet and has a full set of controls on the microphone. www.standardhorizon.com

SI-Tex
Four new models of the SI-TEX T-900 Series Digital Radar feature new hyper-digital processing (HDP), which offers real-time rotation and enhanced target discrimination, elimination of unwanted noise for a clearer, more detailed target image and better detection of smaller targets. The dual-range radar function displays both long- and short-range targets simultaneously on a split screen. The "True Trail" feature identifies the travel direction of moving targets with tracer tails and distinguishes them from stationary targets. Available models include the T-921 with 2 kW, 18-inch radome ($3,599); T-941 with 4 kW, 25-inch radome ($4,199) and the T-940, 4 kW with 3 1/2-foot or 4 1/2-foot open array ($5,599 and $5,799). All have selectable range scales from 1/8 nautical miles. www.si-tex.com

JRC
For maximum dependability in GPS reception, JRC 's GPS 124 ($225) utilizes 12-channel parallel reception for simultaneous monitoring of a dozen satellites, and an SBAS (WAAS/ENO/MSAS) receiver for maximum precision in position accuracy. With one-second updates and a feature called RAIM (random-access integrity monitoring), the unit continually monitors its own operation and accuracy. It's compatible via NMEA 0183 to a wide range of fish finders, radars and plotters. jrcamerica.com

Intellian
While satellite TV has traditionally been left shoreside on all but the biggest fishing boats, that prejudice is rapidly changing, and several manufacturers are shrinking their antennas to the point that boaters are now concerned with finding room for the TV instead of finding room for the antenna. Leading the diminutive pack is a new release from Intellian, the i2 ($2,995), which boasts an 11-inch dish and weighs in at 10 pounds, for close-to-shore and dockside TV reception. intelliantech.com

Icom
ICOM's M36 floating handheld VHF ($180) incorporates an innovative new feature, "Clear Voice Boost," an automatic ambient sound sensor and volume compensator which adjusts the radio's volume - whether you are talking or listening - to accommodate surrounding noise levels, particularly useful on a windy bridge or when engine noise challenges traditional handheld operating levels. When it really gets noisy, there's a manual override that kicks this rugged little radio into full-volume mode. Powered by a lightweight Li-Ion battery and transmitting at 6 watts, typical service between charges is eight hours at 5 percent transmit, 5 percent receive and 90 percent standby. To further conserve juice, the power can be reduced to a 1-watt operating level until more power is needed. icomamerica.com