The recent leaps and bounds forward made with GPS and touch screen technology have bought a plethora of touch screen electronic chart plotters on to the market. A good starting point here would be to get yourself to one of the major boat shows, perhaps London or Southampton, as here you will have an opportunity to fiddle with a whole host of different brands and models. Like phones, users tend to develop a brand loyalty, some preferring different features and functions to others, so it is a good idea to really test what is available before settling on a particular version.
If you are considering investing in one of these nifty gadgets, here’s a quick round up of what’s on the market:
Garmin manufacture a wide range of marine equipment, including chart plotters which range from a very simple, black and white push button plotter to a bells and whistles, touch screen display currently retailing for £5199.
GPSMAP® 7012 & 7012
The GPSMAP® seven series are modern generation navigation equipment and are the flagship products in the current line. This waterproof device comes with a worldwide, satellite enhanced basemap, video quality resolution. The 7015 comes with a 15.5”, sunlight readable display, while the 7012 still comes in with many of the same features but a 12” screen. The system also allows support for sonar, weather and more, and you are also able to enhance the features with additional technology. This series has Garmins G Motion technology, essentially the ability to pan, zoom and redraw very swiftly and smoothly.
The 620 is a miniature, budget touch screen chart plotter from Garmin. It has a 5.2” WVGA touch screen display, and can shift seamlessly between automotive and marine mode if you purchase the automotive conversion kit. The screen is of a good quality and doesn’t struggle too badly with sunlight, and still offers Garmins Fish Eye view to allow plotting of the underwater topography as well as navigational tools.
Raymarine e Series HybridTouchTM
Starting at around £2500, the Raymarine e Series HybridTouchTM 9” and 12” touchscreen displays are a recent addition to the market, designed for RIBs, sailboats, fishing and powered craft. The software includes a remote viewer, meaning you can connect via your iPhone or iPad, and view charts, radar or sonar anywhere on board. Preloaded with worldwide base maps, this series has an intuitive, easy to use interface and a loyal fan base.
Standard Horizon CPN1010i
RRP at £1500 approx, this Wi_Fi chart plotter is equipped with Internet Explorer and Windows Media Player and a 10” XVGA screen. The plotter is billed as a multi media entertainment, can be used to stream music or video and is supplied with a swivel mounting bracket.
Simrad NSS Touchscreen Chartplotter
Increasing in popularity in the UK is the Simrad NSS is a fully integrated GPS and Echosounder (NSS7, NSS8 and NSS9) with full SimNet / NMEA 200 network compatibility. This plotter comes in 3 sizes / specs, the NSS7 (6.34”), NSS8 (8”) and NSS9 (12”) and features TouchSensibleTM technology, a combination of touch screen, keypad and rotary scroller specifically designed for marine use. The display is bright and clear, using LED technology to be crisp and clear; whilst minimising power consumption. The unit is incredibly simple to set up and use, and will link to various other onboard systems, making it a very useful piece of kit. RRP £1391
GPSMAP® 8000 Series (RRP from approx £3,000)
The GPSMAP® 8000 series are modern generation navigation equipment and are the flagship products in the current line. This waterproof device comes in 8”, 12” or 15” variations, with a handy and easy to use multi touch display which enable pinch to zoom and is wonderfully responsive. The units come with a multitude of features, including integrated auto pilot, sonar technology, engine data and a variety of apps. You can also use GarminHelm on your phone to link devices in SmartMode, switching simply between the two when required. Speed and connectivity are very fast indeed in this generation, allowing real time plotting which is very fluid. Supported sailing features include laylines, enhanced wind rose, heading and course-over-ground lines, true wind data fields, and tide/current/time slider.
It is also FusionLink and Meteor entertainment compatible, allowing you to access radio and digital music direct.
GPSMAP® 700 Series RRP from approx £800)
The 700 series are miniature, budget touch screen chart plotters from Garmin. The 700 has a 7” WVGA touch screen display which also includes pinch to zoom, and can shift seamlessly between automotive and marine mode. It has autopilot compatibility and media integration too, as well as sailing features similar to the 7000 Series. You can use Garmin Helm with these products, as well as BlueChart Mobile which is a free app download for Apple products to plot your route and then download to your plotter.
Raymarine New ES Series (RRP TBC)
Raymarine have a loyal fan base and with good reason. The brand New ES Series is a resilient, rugged option with an advanced operating system with their popular HybridTouch allowing you to move seamless through full touch screen including pinch to zoom to full keyboard mode. In 7”, 9” and 12” variations, the models come with es97 MFD with ClearPulse Sonar and eS98 MFD with CHIRP DownVision Sonar, brilliant charts from C-MAP by Keppesen, Navionics and Raymarine’s own LightHouse. The display is crisp and bright, and the integrated Autopilot and engine integration are very useful features. Network compatible with app support for iOS and Android phones.
Lowrance HDS-12m Gen2 Touch (RRP approx £1800)
Somewhere in the midrange is the Lowrance HDS 12 Gen2. Users report lightening fast response on the 9” WXGA TFT LCD touch screen and a really intuitive quick user interface behind a SolarMax screen which makes it easy to see in sunlight. They HDS is wireless ready and uses the GoFree apps to display on Android and iPhone devices. Maps options are good – Navionics, TOPO, C-Map Max-N and so on. You can also multi - view, in 2D or 3D perspective view, with independent control, range and overlay capabilities.
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