Electronics

KVH M2

KVH has met the competition by rejiggering the original battle-beginning M3 into three models. Actually the M3st is the original—with a DirecTV receiver and IR/RF remote included—only a thousand dollars less costly at $3,995. Assuming the $4,995 position is the new M3dx, which lets you use your own HD receivers for DirecTV (plus $295 for a

SeaTel Coastal 14

Last year KVH shook up the world of marine satellite TV with its unusually small M3 (see my column "TV on a 25-Footer?" November 2006). Even some big boats liked the idea of simple, solid performance in a subtle 14-inch dome, and the competition didn't wait long to respond. SeaTel's Coastal 14 ($4,395), for instance, offers the same dome size but builds in the

GlobalStar 1700

The GlobalStar 1700 satellite phone ($999) is more than 40 percent smaller than previous models, plus it has a bright color screen and is purportedly a snap to use with a laptop, even a Mac, via a USB cable. That latter feature means that taking advantage of Globalstar’s 9.6-Kbps data rate—slow, but four times faster than chief competitor

Lowrance iWay 600c

The iWay 600c is a navigate-anywhere portable plotter featuring a bright five-inch touchscreen and a 30-gigabyte hard drive nearly filled with cartography. That includes Lowrance's complete NauticPath U.S. coastal charts (significantly improved from the original version), more than 3,000 U.S. lakes, all U.S. and Canadian roads, 5.5 million POIs, and even photo

'Lectronics Lab

Most people, including my wife, call it a "basement," but I prefer to think of the area beneath our Maine home as a multifunctional work area, and a nice hangout. The carpentry shop under the original building, once used to finish off—well, almost finish—the floors above, even has south-facing windows, as the whole place is tucked into a hill. That topography also permitted a two-car

Sea-King 9815-RJ

King Controls, though a major player in the RV market, is still a new guy on the block in the yachting world. Hence the aggressive $3,695 price tag on its 14-inch Sea-King stabilized antenna system, which can feed two user-supplied receivers as is, more with an optional multiswitch. The 9815-RJ is also HD-compatible, which means that you'll need HD receivers, as

Connected Cruising

Picture a spring evening that's so clear and calm you've jumped out from Charleston, South Carolina, planning to chug through the night to Beaufort, North Carolina, and thus skip a sometimes shallow and/or tedious section of the Intracoastal Waterway plus enjoy some offshore solitude. But, darn it, you've got 21st-century habits and would like to spend some of that time on the Web, checking your

Paradox Marine Magellan Platinium

The marine version of the Paradox Magellan wireless security and monitoring system is earning a good reputation with boaters and insurance writers. Now the original developer, Edgewater Technologies, has further focused itself by becoming Paradox Marine and improving the system’s shore connection. While WiFi and cellular may work fine for a cruiser’s online

SeaKey v2.0

SeaKey v2.0 is major upgrade from the original, adding an LCD interface and two-way Orbcomm satellite communications. However, the goals remains the same: to connect boaters underway with a call center able to both handle emergencies and deliver concierge service, plus provide geo-fence security and simple monitoring of bilge level and main battery bank when

ACR ResQFix

ACR's ResQFix Personal Locator Beacon is 35 percent smaller and 25 percent lighter than its previous AquaFix model and yet purportedly performs better. This is not so trivial when you consider that this six-inch-high unit is meant to acquire a fast GPS fix in tough conditions (like from its float bag next to you in a rough sea), transmit that position and your ID via 406 MHz to the

VHF 101

When it comes to communicating on a marine VHF radio, there are no "good buddies" and no "breaker 19s." Smokey and the Bandit may have made CB radio jargon hip for a time, but a marine VHF is definitely not a CB radio. It’s a serious piece of safety equipment whose use is regulated by the FCC and the U.S. Coast Guard. When used properly it provides a critical communication link to

Icom M34

Icom's new handheld VHF is its first without an aluminum chassis, but it's purportedly still "military rugged," and it actually floats, a combination that fuels the company’s "last handheld you’ll ever need" pitch. The M34, which costs about $180, also has an Aqua Quake mode that shakes water from its speaker plus a "favorites" feature that lets you limit channel scrolling to just the ones you

Cobra 425

The big consumer electronics company Cobra has gotten serious about marine VHF, introducing both this feature-packed handheld and a Class D DSC fixed radio. For instance, the $170 HH425 and the $190 F80 are each submersible and backed by three-year warranties. Both also offer a "rewind, play again" feature that spaceshots like me will find handy—a built-in memory chip records the last 20

Gauges to GUIs

Why reinvent the wheel? Faria tapped Maptech to help create Maestro.

You can almost smell stacks of freshly stitched and pressed Civil War uniforms as you walk around Faria's antique brick and granite factory on the banks of the Thames River just north of New London,

Man Overboard

Though some of life’s most enjoyable moments take place while boating, it’s no secret that Mother Nature can be unforgiving when it comes to the ocean. Indeed, the worst-case scenario is always a possibility. There have been many technological advances in marine electronics in recent years designed to help ensure safety on the water. Automatic-fire-suppression systems? They have been standard

McMurdo SmartFind

Similar to ACR’s ResQFix PLB, McMurdo has introduced a GEPIRB (GPS-equipped Emergency Position Indicating Radio Beacon) that's smaller yet supposedly performs better. The $849, 1.5-pound SmartFind Plus accomplishes this largely by using LEDs for its strobe, which

Perfect Picks?

I had two strong reactions to the idea of picking ideal marine-electronics systems for three different styles of boats. The first went something like, “Yikes, there’s a fast way to annoy a lot of worthy but unlisted manufacturers,” and the second, “Oh, but that would be impossible anyway.” On further reflection I realized that truth number two would (hopefully) null out truth number one and that

The Road to the Future

GPS technology has been the major force in bringing marine route planning into the 21st century. The Navstar GPS satellite network that made its way to us after the 1986 Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) was a godsend: CRADA brought commercially viable, federalized positioning technology to the private sector, and we boaters benefitted with the chartplotters that grace our

Universal Aggravation

Yes!” was the almost universal response to my idea of opening this column about universal remotes with a soul-satisfying photograph of one being smashed to smithereens. I can’t think of another class of gadget that is such a universal example of beneficent technology run amuck. If you are anywhere near my age,

Garmin 5000 Series

Just as the flagship 4000 series covered in the February issue was enjoying its U.S. debut at the Miami International Boat Show, Garmin upped the ante by showing prototypes of its even newer flagship 5000 series. The four models—eight- and 12-inch units, each with a choice of built-in chart portfolios—are very similar to the 4000 series except they’re almost completely

Northstar 6100i Sirius Weather

Also at Miami, Northstar demonstrated how the powerful soft-key interface on its 6100i multifunction displays (MFDs) can now enable users to easily mix and view all the real-time and forecast weather elements available from Sirius Satellite Radio. For instance, that overlay key can rotate through six customizable data mix presets, each neatly represented in the little window by icons. The

Ray218 VHF

Raymarine has started an impressive new VHF line with the $569 Ray218. It’s a Class D DSC set that purportedly offers the best audio specifications—like receiving sensitivity and intermodulation rejection, plus spurious transmitting emissions—in the business. It’s also the first VHF ever with soft keys, which appear quite useful for negotiating complicated menus or getting at favorite

Furono FA30 AIS Receiver

The Furuno FA30’s Ethernet port means it can plug right into a NavNet vx2 network, but it also offers standard NMEA AIS output and comes with a PC AIS plotting program able to use the Ethernet feed, so it can be set up in many ways. The FA30—expected to cost less than $1,000—is a true dual-channel receiver (see more on

Carlisle & Finch NightFinder 200

Combining a 15 million candlepower Xenon spotlight with a 320x240 pixel thermal camera yields more than just the efficiency of shared casing, cabling, and pan/tilt controllers. You can leave the thermal going all night and if you spot something indistinct, hit it with the already-aimed spot. And if that “thing” is hostile, note that the powerful beam, aided by

Last Call VHF Repeater

Last Call is the good idea of a professional skipper in Puget Sound, Washington. Superficially it is simply an improved speaker for your VHF, but inside is a chip that constantly memorizes the last 60 seconds of whatever transmission breaks the radio’s squelch. Push the button on the top, and it will repeat it back to you, amplified even. This $100 accessory

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