One thing that came as a surprise to me when I visited this show was the marine electronics room at this show. At shows up in the northeast, you will find a few electronics manufacturers mixed in with the other accessories booths. Down there, everybody who is anybody in marine electronics is present and ready to show you all the new products. Those Floridians don't know how good they have it! I had the opportunity to preview some products at the show and here are some of my favorites.
XM WX Satellite Weather and WxWorx
If you are into having real time weather data on board your vessel, the XM WX Satellite Weather service is something to look into. XM WX Satellite Weather data is provided by WxWorx, a leading provider of weather data to the TV and emergency services industries. XM WX is the most powerful on board weather system you can have, offering live weather conditions on your boat. Those conditions include sea surface temperature, wave height, weather radar, buoy data, salinity. The system can also interact with GPS to give you the data right around your boat. I demoed the service and what I liked about it is, it is extremely easy to use.
One of the unique features that XM WX has is called a “fish forecast”. Offshore anglers will typically consider a variety of weather conditions to determine their best chance to locate certain species. The XM WX fish forecast allows you to select certain offshore species and they then indicate by fish icons on a map where their formulas project fish to be located. The manufacturer’s representative let me know that they use an algorithm based on data they collected from anglers' familiar favorable conditions for certain species. Plus, they are continuing to collect additional data in an effort to assure accuracy.
I tested this feature out and it looks great, but I cannot speak on the accuracy. If I were an offshore expert, I would be inclined to look at the conditions individually on my XM WX program and make my own forecast. I would then, after I have made my conclusions on where the fish are, look at the XM WX fish forecast. If they match up, I have a great shortcut instead of monitoring conditions individually. If they do not match up, I can have some fun testing the machine saying “here is what I think, let’s see what they think.” Regardless, it is great to see that XM is responding to our thirst for new, innovative data sets.
In order to receive and display the XM WX data, boaters must have a subscription to the XM WX service, as well as an XM WX capable receiver, antenna and display device. The XM WX Satellite Weather system was designed to be flexible, allowing boaters the option of a wide range of hardware solutions including chartplotters or portable devices, such as laptop PC’s or Multi-Function Displays (MFDs). Some of their display partners include: Garmin, Faria, Nobletec by Jeppessen, Nauticomp, Big Bay Technologies, Marine PC, VEI, WxWorx and others. You can learn more about the service www.xmradio.com/weather and find detailed information about the data provided on http://www.wxworx.com.
Simrad NX40 with C-Map NT MAX SD Card
Simrad’s new NX40 is the next generation multi-function display unit. The NX40 has easy to use controls and an 8.4-inch sunlight viewable high-resolution color display. This “information machine” is capable of providing advanced chart plotting, radar, echo-sounder, camera images of a specific location, instrument data, engine data, fuel data, and more, in one easy to use display.
What I liked about this particular unit was the speed and display options with the chart plotter. The extremely fast chart redraw of the NX40 makes it easy to plan sailing routes and view details at all chart scales. It also ensures a higher level of safety for dynamic and high speed cruising. The chart data can be upgraded to full regional detail, including port and land information, by adding an optional C-MAP NT MAX SD cartridge for your area. Adding this cartridge truly enhances the features of the unit, including 3D charts and aerial photos.
In terms of fish-finding, this unit has a cost effective built in echo-sounder. That means all you have to do is add a transducer and you are all set. The echo-sounder automatically adjusts its transmit power to the connected 1 kW or 600 W transducer, optimizing bottom and fish detection performance. You can choose detailed single frequency presentation in one window, simultaneous dual frequency presentation in two windows or the advanced mixed frequencies presentation, where the advantages of both frequencies are combined in one detailed echogram window. Check out www.simrad-yachting.com and http://www.c-map.com to learn more.