Check out the latest and greatest in new marine electronic goodies and gadgets for your boat.
The march of new marine electronics never stops, and most seasons it accelerates rather than slowing down. The whole Covid thing caused an exception to the rule, as supply chain deficiencies and manpower shortages put a kink into the usual flow. But that’s behind us now, and the last 18 months or so have seen a steady drumbeat of new tech hitting the water. Here are our top picks for the latest and greatest.
What’s New in MFDs
The MFD is the core of your system, so new entries in the field make some serious waves. First up in this regard is the addition of the Furuno TZTouchXL units. To state the obvious, XL stands for extra large and with 22-inch and 24-inch screen sizes, the model names are quite appropriate. These glorious in-plane switching mega-screens are full HD (1920 x 1080 resolution) and are so huge that screen-splits can now take place to six windows rather than the usual maximum of four. The XLs can be integrated with existing TZT3 systems and boast all the latest Furuno TZT3 features, like Fish-It and Drift-It. Quad-core processors ensure top speeds, and networking capabilities are off the charts with NEMA2000, LAN, video, USB, and SiriusXM Fish Mapping compatibility.
When it comes to MFDs bigger is better, and the Furuno TZTouchXL units have size on their side.
Though we haven’t yet had a chance to test the system (it was just announced in June) Simrad has let it be known that they’ve overhauled the software for their NSX MFDs. Version 1.5 includes sonar sharing between units, a fully integrated interface with Mercury Marine systems (including autopilot, cruise control, troll control, and active trim), and new charting compatibility (adding CMOR, Strikelines, and Florida Marine Tracks, among others). This update also delivers the ability to purchase, update, upgrade, and download C-Map charts directly into the MFD via the X-Chart Manager and Store. Also upgraded for 2023 is the Raymarine Axiom 2 Pro lineup, which now gets a six-core processor for faster speeds. And Lowrance delivers some new functionality as well, adding Active Imaging HD and Active Target2 Live Sonar to their HDS Pro.
Night Vision Nirvana
Night Vision gains a new aspect of portability between boats with the Sionyx Nightwave, which gives you the functionality of a full feature remote-mounted digital night vision camera without having to hard-mount the unit. WiFi video streaming and the Sionyx App make it possible, since you can use a removable RAM-style mount with the camera then see its views via one or more tablets or phones rather than having to run wires. We loved this feature when we tested the Nightwave, because we were able to pull it off a center console after use on the bay and take it with us when we drove to the inlet and jumped aboard a sportfish for an offshore trip. You can still do things the old-fashioned way, hard mounting the camera and wiring it into your MFD, if you so choose. Either way, the Nightwave delivers 1280 x 1024 color resolution and a 44-degree horizontal field of view with its black silicon CMOS sensor.
The Sionyx Nightwave can be mounted on a RAM mount and needs no wires, so it can be carried from one boat to another.
Also keep your night vision eyes out for Omnisense Systems. This newcomer to the field is offering a lineup of high-end gyrostabilized and non-stabilized single-and multi-payload cameras. Most interesting to the largest group of anglers is likely to be the Ulysses Micro, a 5.5” by 8.7” camera designed for relatively small, fast boats. These are so new we haven’t yet been able to try one in the real world, so stay tuned for more intel to come.
Sounds Like a Winner
Who wants to cruise towards the fishing grounds for hours at a time without being able to jam tunes? No one. New this year for angling audiophiles is the Garmin Fusion Apollo WB675 Marine Hideaway Stereo, designed for boats with a shortage of dash space at the helm. It can be mounted out of sight in a compartment or inside the console, and controlled via your phone, MFD, or Garmin Smartwatch. We love the “Speed vs. Volume” feature, which can be set to automatically adjust stereo volume to the boat’s speed.
Small boat anglers will grove out on the new Clarion CMM-10, an ultra-compact stereo developed for diminutive fishing machines. It pumps out 80 watts, has AM/FM, Bluetooth, and USB connectivity (the USB port can also serve as a charger), and is expandable with dual-zone preamps. The footprint is a mere 4.33” by 2.48” by 3.15” so the mounting space is about as svelte as you’ll find.
The new CMM-10 packs 80 watts of power, but will fit at just about any helm.
You say you want sound waves so potent you can fry the fish before you even catch them? JL Audio has a new line of XDM amplifiers including the uber-potent XDM800/8, an eight-channel unit that boosts the power to an obscene 800 watts. This is a class D unit with NexD high-speed switching to minimize distortion and maximize efficiency.
The AI is Arriving
AI dominates the news these days and believe it or not it’s even coming to marine electronics. One of the first ventures into this space is Sea.AI, in the form of their Offshore, Sentry, and Competition systems. Promising to deliver AI-based situational awareness, these systems use multiple RGB and thermal cameras to detect and track objects, distances, and potential collision courses. Imagery can be projected to MFDs, onboard computers, smartphones, or tablets, and the manufacturer claims the system can “see” objects that are normally invisible to radar. Similarly interesting tech is coming from Avikus, a Hyundai company working to autonomize boat operation via the NeuBoat system. AI takes care of the navigation and docking, and senses the surroundings with a combination of cameras and Lidar (light detection and ranging) laser imaging.
At this point we’ve seen only demo videos of these AI systems for boats, and the current cost means they aren’t going to explode into the recreational boat market anytime soon. But keep your eyes on this tech. Its development is shockingly rapid, and like most things of this nature we can expect cost to drop as time goes on, until it becomes mainstream. Sooner or later, you may step board your fishing machine, cast off the lines, and say “take me to the tuna.” And it will.