Multifunction Display Integration

Two significant series of multifunction displays promise better radar integration, and lots of other functions.


World Series

A major theme of Raymarine's new E-Series Widescreen is choice. Depending on preference (or sea conditions), users can run the 9-, 12-, and 14-inch MFDs with either the new touchscreen interface or the same efficient command-key set designed for the C-Series Widescreen. E-Series Widescreen owners also get to choose amongst all available chart products from both Navionics and Jeppesen C-Map. Preloaded base charts from the latter cover all of North America-Canada and the Caribbean included, a first-but upgrading to C-Map's new 4D cards may be tempting, as they include a paper-chart-like NOAA raster layer, super high-res photo maps, and automated voyage planning. The E Wides even have built-in illustrated manuals. New radar features include a bird mode that optimizes settings to detect bait-feeding flocks, automatic rotation speed control to compensate for fast-moving targets, and improved dual-range display. These features apply not just to Raymarine's existing HD and Super HD open-array radars, but also to the 18- and 24-inch HD radomes being introduced this fall along with the three E-Series Widescreen MFDs, with retail prices ranging from $3,995 to $6,495. Raymarine, (800) 539-5539; ****

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Star Players

Simrad's new 8- and 12-inch NSE series multifunction displays are based on the able Navico Operating System first seen in the Lowrance HDS series (and discussed in "Electronics: Value Added" last month). Thus, these MFDs should network well with Navico's Broadband Sounder and Radar modules, as well as its HD radars and a growing family of NMEA 2000 sensors. The NSE series comes preloaded with Nautic Insight charts, and can alternately display all Navionics chart formats. But NSE is not HDS. In fact, the acronym stands for "Northstar Edition" because these MFDs include several of that brand's popular interface features- such as designated mode buttons and super-sized data screens. They also include some classic Simrad good ideas, like zoom/range number key shortcuts, a new-to-Navico rotary knob, and the ability to support accessory keyboards and mice. After a brief demo, I'm inclined to agree with Navico that the resulting best-of-brands interface will work well for both casual and serious users. The latter will be particularly impressed with the NSE default radar mode, which presents MARPA and AIS target boxes much like a ship's radar. Also impressive are the speed and bright, color-rich LED screens of the series. Simrad says the NSE12 and NSE8 ($4,595 and $3,295, respectively) will be available in November. Simrad USA, (425) 778-8821; ****