It was pure luck that my April column on maintenance ("Servicing the Circuitry") illustrated how easy it is to update a Raymarine E-Series; then along came V4, a free firmware upgrade so significant it merits new-product coverage. Every upgrader will immediately get new display choices like the compass bar, range rings, real-time tide and current icons, and a 3-D depth-plane control that fishermen and gunkholers will both value. If a Raymarine autopilot is attached, you'll now have control right from the E; if a Sirius receiver is in the network, you can now subscribe to its audio service and slickly manage channels from the E. You'll also have new shopping choices, as V4 is compatible with the new Navionics Platinum+ chart cards, plus Raymarine's new HD radar scanners and 3-kW fishfinder. There are many other small improvements and no doubt a lot of bug fixes; in fact, my test unit seems faster than ever, even with the higher-res Platinum+ photo maps. Naturally new E-Series units will come with V4, but existing customers will be tickled the most. I hope the customer appreciation earned motivates those companies that aren't yet devoting resources to developing easy upgrade paths and reasons to have them.
This article originally appeared in the July 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.