The global display company Planar has entered the little marine world with quite a splash. Its three new LX Mariner touchscreen PC monitors—eight-, 12-, and 15-inch screens with prices ranging from $2,000 to $2,200—are bonded (no fogging), sunlight-viewable, and waterproof. I tested the 12-inch model against a Garmin 5212, a known benchmark for effective touchscreen view-ability, and it did very well; in a variety of light conditions the Planar looked just a tad less bright but had slightly richer colors. Aside from the power cable, a Mariner has just two ports, a standard VGA for your PC's video port and USB to send back touch commands. There's also touchscreen configuration software that makes it possible to emulate all mouse functions. I found the screen quite responsive and managed to run several regular charting programs on it. However sometimes a stylus (or backwards pencil) was useful, even with Nobeltec Admiral (shown), which is partly designed for touch. The greater expanse of the 15-inch model would no doubt make finger control easier, but I'll continue my search—see my blog at www.powerandmotoryacht.com—for good navigation/weather/etc. software that pairs well with this very good monitor.
This article originally appeared in the December 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.