Miami Boat Show Electronics Preview

These electronics made their debut at the Miami International Boat Show.

Garmin Fishfinder 320C

Garmin recently introduced its first stand-alone color sounder-the Fishfinder 320C. It has a sunlight-readable 5-inch diagonal display, fast ping rate and intuitive software. Multi-level colors (16 to be exact) let anglers distinguish among fish, bottom structures and underwater objects. Background colors are black, blue or white. Depth Control Gain adjusts the sonar sensitivity by depth, and See-Thru technology separates fish returns from thermoclines. Bottom-lock provides a constant view within a user-configured parameter (say, viewing only activity within 40 feet of the bottom). Linked to a Garmin GPS, the 320C's remote waypoint-marking feature can send a specific location to the GPS. Price: about $850 with a single-frequency 200kHz transducer or a dual-frequency 50/200kHz transducer and more. Garmin International, Inc., (913) 397-8200; www.garmin.com.

Koden CVS-842/CVS-852 Sounders

These sounders are for hard-core anglers. Both models come in power output ratings of 1kW, 3kW or 5kW, plus dual-frequency operation in any combination of 28kHz, 50kHz, 75kHz or 200kHz. Entire Image Control lets you vary the gain and STC of the whole image, including previously captured ones. When the sounder picks up clutter, say in the first 20 feet, you don't have to adjust the gain for the entire range and lose weak targets at great depths. The feature also lets you analyze ground and schools of fish you've already covered. Each model has a 16-color display and nine background colors. The CVS-842 has a 10.4-inch diagonal TFT LCD screen; the CVS-852 has a 15-inch diagonal TFT LCD. All the frequency and power outputs are built in. Depths range from zero to 8,000 feet. Price: $4,999 (CVS-842), $6,999 (CVS-852). Koden, (727) 576-5995; www.si-tex.com.

Simrad Black-Box VHF

Simrad recently introduced "black-box" VHFs-the RS 86/87 dVHF. The heart of the system is a small transceiver you can mount at the helm or nav station. Fitted with a fixed control panel (RS 86) or a handheld controller (RS 87), the VHF accommodates four controllers via the optional expansion board. Both units provide standard built-in class-D DSC features, plus a weather alert. Key features include a spring-loaded cover that prevents accidental actuation of the distress button (meaning you may call an individual or group from the keypad, using the internal directory or the yacht's MMSI number); an iDSC output that lets you display DSC data on any Simrad 33, 42, 52 or later chart plotter; and the ability to add components with a single cable. Price: $1,250 for the RS 86, $1,200 for the RS 87. A scrambler is optional. Simrad, Inc., (425) 778-8821; www.simrad.com.

Magellan Full-Color Handheld GPS

The Meridian Color GPS is the first full-color handheld on the market, available from Sharper Image retail outlets for about $500. Magellan has scheduled wider distribution for this spring. This newest addition to the Meridian line has a built-in 16MB map database that contains highways, major roads, parks, waterways, airports and cities, plus marine navigational aids. An external antenna is optional. Magellan designed the case to fit comfortably in the human hand. It's also waterproof (it floats). The 12-channel GPS supports the U.S. WAAS and the European EGNOS and provides accuracy to 3 meters, according to the company. Meridian Color stores a maximum of 500 waypoints, 2,000 track points and 20 reversible routes of 30 legs each. Magellan, (909) 394-5000; www.magellangps.com.

Raymarine SL Series

Raymarine designed its new SL Series of radar, chart plotters and fishfinders for single-station installations. Communicating with other electronics via Raymarine's SeaTalk system and the ubiquitous NMEA 0183 protocol, these products do not require Raymarine's proprietary hsb2 networking. This lets buyers mix and match their electronics suite. The SL Series units are available with color displays in sizes of 7 and 10.4 inches and in monochrome at 7 inches. The color screens include Raymarine's High Brightness technology, making them easy to see in almost all lighting conditions. The chart plotters run C-Map NT+ software; the radars have Pathfinder scanners in power outputs of 2.4kW and 10kW, open array or radome; and the fishfinders are equipped with dual-frequency (200KHz and 50KHz) transmitter/receivers to provide good performance in shallow and deep water. Price: $2,600 street for the SL760RC. Raymarine, (800) 539-5539; www.raymarine.com.