By Ben Ellison
Northstar’s new series of 10.4-, 8.4-, and 6.4-inch display do-everything boxes were the buzz of the boat shows. If an easy machine is one that you can figure out without a manual, the 6000i, which can function as a chartplotter, radar (overlaid or not), dual-frequency fishfinder, and multi-source video viewer, is one you’ll know a lot about before you even turn it on. Essentially Northstar transformed the top menu of its already famously intuitive soft-key interface into new and logical dedicated keys, even while reducing the case size significantly and sleekly. And two or more 6000i units can work together—sharing charts, radar signals, etc.—over the company’s new Ethernet-based I2 network. A waypoint entered on one is instantly replicated on another, even if it’s being used to watch a DVD; that’s redundancy the easy way.
Northstar is also now using Navionics Compact Flash chart cards, a rather timely move, as Navionics just introduced the XL3 version of such cards. With XL3 you get a huge number of charts—like the entire West Coast, Canada to Cabo, including Hawaii and offshore bathy charts—on one card for last year’s $199 XL price. Support for Navionics’ colorful Gold format, also XL3 sized, is coming to 6000i soon (and because of that common CF format, probably easily). Not that Northstar is a bargain hunter’s brand, with the smallest 6000i starting at $3,500 before radar or fishfinder options. But never has the company done so much to earn its premium pricing.
Northstar Phone: (800) 628-4487. www.northstargps.com.
This article originally appeared in the December 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.