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The Enthusiast Page 3

Electronics — February 2005
By Ben Ellison

The Enthusiast
Electronics Q&A
   
 
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I’m in the process of ordering a dual-station Sealine F42/5. What do think of MapTech’s touchscreen chartplotter? L.G, via e-mail
I’ve been impressed with Maptech’s ambitious marine PC since I first tested it back in 2001, when it was being developed as the Sea Ray Navigator (see “Building a Boat Brain,” March 2002). Over the years I’ve read some positive testimonials from Sea Ray owners, and last summer I got to test the latest model, which is now available for any boat as the i3. From the beginning the machine has offered an attractive combination of plotter-like ruggedness with easy fingertip access to powerful PC-style navigation, including paper-like raster charts, photo maps, and 3D bathymetrics. Now the developers have neatly blended in radar, live weather, and even e-mail/monitoring options. The i3 name—which stands for “integrated, intuitive, innovative”—may sound a bit hypish, but it rings true. Note that you could have independent, and thus redundant, i3s at each station, but they could share a single radar scanner.

But you should also note that there’s some serious competition building in this high-end niche. Northstar has just introduced the 15-inch 972, a PC-based multifunction display that offers Maptech raster chart navigation, like its popular 962 predecessor, as well as all of Nobeltec’s Passport cartography already loaded on its hard drive. Nobeltec itself has introduced a nifty new high-resolution Ethernet-based radar, and it’s available as part of an all-in-one touchscreen system from VEI. Even higher up the price-point scale, Raymarine is now shipping its highly stylish H6 dual-computer, dual-screen nav/entertainment/communications system. I was struck at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show with how many Maptech and Nobeltec scanners sat atop fine yachts, signaling how far computer-based navigation has advanced. There’s much more to report on this subject, and next month’s column will be dedicated to it.

Got a marine electronics question? Write to Electronics Q&A, Power & Motoryacht, 260 Madison Ave., 8th Fl., New York, NY 10016. Fax: (917) 256-2282. e-mail: PMYElectronics@primedia.com. For fastest response, visit the Electronics forum at www.powerandmotoryacht.com. No phone calls, please.

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This article originally appeared in the January 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.

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