New Year, New Gear

The off-season is the perfect time to get the lowdown on the latest marine electronics and plan upgrades
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Keeping up with the ever-changing marine electronics world is a full-time job. Just when you think you’ve mastered the lingo — be it CHIRP, Wi-Fi or GPS — a fresh product comes along with newfangled features and high-tech acronyms to learn. This makes researching and buying new equipment a challenge.

Fear not, intrepid boat owner. We’ve wrangled the latest and greatest electronics gear from the past several months so you’ll be in the know when it comes time to replace or upgrade your gadgets and gizmos. Whether you’re looking to install a new VHF radio or enhance your fishfinding capabilities, there’s bound to be a piece of gear here that fits your boating style.

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GOST Surveillance Cameras

GOST’s new high-definition Mini-Ball 1080P and Mini-Dome PTZ 1080P cameras join existing Xtreme Mini-Dome and Mini-Dome LED camera models, which received high-definition upgrades alongside the new models. The Mini-Ball 1080P is only 2.4 inches in diameter and has a 2-megapixel resolution. It will be included as the standard camera in most GOST Watch HD XVR, Apparition XVR and Phantom XVR packages. The Mini-Dome PTZ 1080P is an interior/exterior camera with pan, tilt and zoom capabilities, and a 4X optical zoom. GOST says the 4.8-inch-diameter unit is among the most compact point/tilt/zoom cameras on the market. All GOST cameras are tamper-proof and water-resistant, and use 2.41-megapixel Sony EXMOR or 2.1-megapixel Panasonic CMOS sensors for quality video output and high-resolution stills. Day/night functionality detects light changes and automatically switches the camera from color (daylight) to monochrome (night). Pricing is available from certified GOST installers, which can be found at gostglobal.com.

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Garmin Echomap Plus

Launched at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Echomap Plus is the next generation of Garmin’s Echomap chart plotter/sonar model range. The units are available in sunlight-readable 4-, 6-, 7- and 9-inch displays. The 6-inch units are new to the range, replacing the previous 5-inch model. Echomap Plus units have built-in Wi-Fi, allowing interactivity with Garmin’s ActiveCaptain mobile app. Echomap Plus units also have built-in CHIRP traditional sonar and CHIRP ClearVü and SideVü scanning capabilities. ClearVü displays imagery of what passes below the boat, while SideVü shows what lies off each side. For real-time sonar imagery at video-like speed, 7- and 9-inch Echomap Plus buyers can opt for Garmin’s Panoptix transducers, which show an image of fish swimming away from or toward the boat. The Echomap Plus units have built-in BlueChart g2 charts. Prices run between $200 and $1,500. garmin.com

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Si-Tex NavStar MFDs

Si-Tex’s 10- and 12-inch NavStar multifunction displays integrate radar, sonar, chart-plotting and entertainment functions in a compact but rugged enclosure. The units are Si-Tex’s first to operate with either touch-screen or knob and button controls. Inside each unit is a 1.6 GHz quad-core processor, which allows a four-way, split-screen view and fast performance. There’s also Bluetooth and wireless LAN connectivity for speedy chart updates and streaming of audio and video entertainment. The units can be used with Si-Tex’s 4-kW dual-range radar, which overlays C-Map cartography. The NavStar units have Skymate satellite communications capability for optional access to weather forecasts, Nexrad weather radar and sea-surface temperature data. Anglers can connect the units with Si-Tex’s dual-frequency 50/200-kHz sonar for a detailed view of the fishing scenes beneath the boat. NavStar 10: $2,199; NavStar 12: $2,999. si-tex.com

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Garmin Striker Plus

Garmin announced the second generation of its Striker fishfinder lineup at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. Like the first generation, all Striker Plus models come with built-in CHIRP traditional sonar and CHIRP ClearVü and SideVü scanning capabilities. ClearVü shows an image of what passes below the boat, while SideVü shows anglers what lies off each side of the boat. New for the Striker Plus line is Garmin’s Quickdraw Contours mapping software, which allows users to create high-definition fishing maps and store up to 2 million acres of data with 1-foot depth contours. The addition of built-in Wi-Fi allows use of Garmin’s new ActiveCaptain mobile app connectivity, and internal GPS lets users mark fishing hot spots. The Striker Plus series is available in 4.3-, 5-, 7- and 9-inch display sizes with prices from $140 to $700. garmin.com

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Lowrance Hook2 Fishfinder/Plotter

Lowrance launched its line of Hook2 fishfinder/chart plotters in November. Based on dial and button inputs instead of a touch-screen interface, the 4-, 5-, 7-, 9- and 12-inch units include Lowrance’s Auto Tuning sonar, a technology that corrects sonar settings for the best view of the water under the boat. Also on board is Lowrance’s wide-angle Broadband Sounder and CHIRP sonar, which, according to Lowrance, provides more than twice the sonar coverage of most fishfinders. SideScan and DownScan imaging are also included. The series is available in three model lines: TripleShot, SplitShot and Bullet. TripleShot has 3-in-1 sonar with High CHIRP, SideScan and DownScan imaging. SplitShot has 2-in-1 sonar with High CHIRP and DownScan imaging. The 4-inch Bullet displays have Broadband Sounder and a new, wide-screen design. Prices range from $99 to $1,499. lowrance.com

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Siren Marine MTC

Siren Marine’s MTC boat monitoring and tracking system gives boat owners the ability to monitor critical information remotely, from an app. The system’s central processing unit houses a microcomputer, 56-channel GPS and global cellular modem. The central unit networks with wireless sensors that can monitor battery levels, GPS position, bilge levels, shore-power status and more. The sensors have a three-year battery life and are designed with sub-GHz radio frequencies to penetrate bulkheads and other structural boat elements. The MTC head unit retails for $599, and each wireless sensor costs $99. The system can be purchased as a package with four wireless sensors for $799. Annual, monthly and seasonal service plans start at $15 per month, and the monitoring app is free. sirenmarine.com

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GOST Apparition

GOST recently introduced Apparition, a boat-monitoring and tracking system with a network of touch-screen displays. The displays are available in 5- and 7-inch models. As many as 16 of them can be connected to a single network. The Apparition system can support 192 sensors and access control for 32 internal or external doors and hatches. Users can check sensor statuses by accessing any of the installed touchpads. Sensors can monitor high water, low voltage, smoke and heat, as well as intrusion detection. A free app lets users keep track of the sensors from a mobile device. Pricing is available from certified GOST installers, which can be found at gostglobal.com.

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Garmin ActiveCaptain App

Seven months ago, Garmin acquired ActiveCaptain, an online, community-sourced database of marinas, anchorages, local points of interest and marine hazards layered on a Google Maps interface. Garmin is now integrating the acquisition into its electronics ecosystem. The app connects owners’ mobile devices with compatible Garmin chart plotters, charts, maps and the ActiveCaptain online community. The app’s OneChart feature allows users to view and update charts and maps from their mobile devices, and buy new ones to use on Garmin plotters. The software also provides smart notifications, displaying calls and texts on a paired chart plotter. Users can plan trips inside the app at home and then transfer the waypoints and other data to a chart plotter. The app provides downloads of Garmin’s latest Quickdraw Countours depth content, and connects with the ActiveCaptain community to display up-to-date feedback on marinas and other points of interest. Downloadable free from the App Store or Google Play. 

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Simrad GO12 XSE and GO7 XSR

Simrad’s GO12 XSE and GO7 XSR join the company’s stand-alone chart plotter line. The GO12 XSE is a 12-inch model, and the 7-inch GO7 XSR has a new glass-helm design and radar compatibility. The units have what Simrad calls ultra-bright displays. Users can tap the screen to create or select waypoints, and use pinch-to-zoom or tap-and-drag gestures to scan across charts. Home-screen menus provide access to all functions. The GO units work with Simrad Broadband 3G/4G and Halo radar systems, and have internal GPS receivers. The units also pair with StructureScan HD and CHIRP sonar for fishfinding use, and they have autopilot, engine data, audio entertainment and Sirius XM weather/radio integration. GO12 XSE pricing starts at $2,149 for models without a transducer. GO7 XSR pricing starts at $649. simrad-yachting.com

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Lowrance Link-6/Simrad RS20 VHF radios

Designed for use on boats ranging from small skiffs up to sportfishing yachts, the Lowrance Link-6 and Simrad RS20 are Class-D DSC marine VHF radios. Each has a new look and a high-contrast, black-on-white display for bright sunlight use. An inverted white-on-black mode helps preserve night vision. Channel switching is by rotary dial, and buttons provide access to all functions. The buttons are spaced for use by gloved fingers. Dedicated channel 16 keys are on the microphone and unit face. An integrated distress button allows automated DSC calling. Lowrance Link-6: $189; Simrad RS20: $279. lowrance.com, bandg.com

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Raymarine Axiom Pro

Raymarine augmented its Axiom multifunction display lineup last summer with the Axiom Pro model range. Axiom Pro is designed for serious offshore cruisers and anglers, and is available in 9-, 12- and 16-inch display sizes. Axiom Pro has Raymarine’s HybridTouch interface, which combines touch-screen controls with a keypad for use in adverse conditions. The displays perform well in bright sunlight and utilize in-plane switching to maximize daytime viewing. The units run Raymarine’s LightHouse 3 operating system and have fast, quad-core processors. Anglers can pair the Axiom Pro with Raymarine’s RealVision 3D sonar or 1-kW CHIRP sonar. The sonar uses a spectrum of CHIRP frequencies, enabling anglers to see through thick baitfish schools, identify thermoclines and target gamefish in deep water. Axiom Pro models with RealVision 3D and 1-kW CHIRP sonar start at $2,549. raymarine.com

MDA-4Accessories

Si-Tex MDA-4 VHF/DSC/AIS

The Si-Tex MDA-4 VHF radio is a new addition to the Metadata Series of AIS products. The DSC VHF radio is designed for high-quality communications, while the dual-channel AIS receiver is intended to enhance navigation safety. The unit’s internal AIS receives all Class A and Class B AIS ship information, and an integrated display shows information such as a target’s Maritime Mobile Service Identity, call sign, ship name, bearing, distance, speed over ground and course over ground. Alerts for closest point of approach and time to closest approach also are displayed, as are essential navigation data. Options include a remote command microphone bundle ($120) and a 66-channel smart GPS antenna ($60). The Si-Tex MDA-4 retails for $459. si-tex.com

This article originally appeared in the January 2017 issue.