|E Is For?|
Part 2: I think Raymarine has come up with an excellent design that’s got lots to offer now and will support new features and relationships well into the future.
By Ben Ellison — March 2005
And old E has a video output, E-I-E-I-O (shoot me now, please). Indeed, the E’s ability to export its screen image may be worth singing about, as it further expands how and where you use the system around your boat. At minimum you can plug an E into your TV monitor and see what’s going on when you’re in the saloon. Better yet, Raymarine has a dedicated keyboard that hooks to the E system via a long, phone-style curly wire (see “More to Come,” December 2003, for a test of the same neat keyboard setup for RayTech PC software). Chemi happily showed us how he could use it to build routes on the Cabo’s plasma TV while also refreshing in the yacht’s leather settee and air conditioning.
The keyboard could be useful on deck, too, freeing the E user to take care of business while sitting back in a helm chair, and it will really shine when an E is output to Raymarine’s M1500 monitor. Then you’d be using your E like big-yacht black-box electronics, with 15 inches of XGA (1,024x1,280) display front and center and the controls wherever your fingers like them. Actually you could use any monitor, but it’s no coincidence that the M1500 nicely matches the E design. In fact, the system architects at Raymarine are obviously working with a big picture in mind, and thus this same hardware will eventually be able to morph into yet another interesting configuration. RayTech 6 will be able to bring all of E’s data into a PC via that single Ethernet wire, and then the keyboard and monitor could become the working end of an even more powerful setup.
There’s more. Like the C Series, E is equipped with SeaTalk2 networking, a variation of NMEA 2000, only now it’s beginning to sound useful. Chemi couldn’t share much detail, but he did show me the engine monitoring screens (see page 127) built into the E and said that at least one major powerplant manufacturer will announce a SeaTalk2 relationship with E at its Miami International Boat Show introduction. Yes, there’s a lot of E I/O going on. If you find it all confusing, well, you’re not the only one. My January column called “Gold Rush!” might be helpful; the E Series, which also talks NMEA 0183 and regular SeaTalk, is like a science project about all the flavors of marine networking I discussed there. But there’s a good reason for each, and in fact, I think Raymarine has come up with an excellent design that’s got lots to offer now and will support new features and relationships well into the future.
Chemi was understandably reluctant to talk about features not yet available, but did say that “one of the beautiful things about the E Series, and C, is the compact flash slot,” referring to how easy it is to upgrade the machine’s software using the standard memory card that the Navionics charts come on. We can only guess at what those future upgrades might be, but I doubt anyone is questioning Raymarine’s ability to develop compelling new products anymore.
I’ll also note in closing that when the company went public, one reason given was to “gain an attractive acquisition currency;” in other words, so it could also grow its product lines by purchasing other companies with its stock. Here a Raymarine, there a Raymarine… E-I-E-I-O.
Raymarine ( (800) 539-5539. www.raymarine.com.
This article originally appeared in the August 2005 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.