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On the water with the Simrad NSS 12

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I had a chance to see the new Simrad NSS 12 in action on a Contender center console out of Atlantic City. Simrad’s team had been so kind as to mount the new NSS 12 right next to the company’s NSE 12, both with bright 12-inch screens. The big difference between the two units? The NSS is equipped with a touchscreen. That Touch Sensible display (as they call it)  allows the user to tinker with 99 percent of the unit’s functionality without ever touching the manual button and knob controls. And there is functionality.

The unit we tested integrated a chartplotter, a broadband sounder, and the company’s proprietary StructureScan imaging, Broadband radar, and SonicHub media server. The test boat did not integrate other available peripherals and features, such as a pulse radar, Sirius satellite weather, and an autopilot. But we had plenty to occupy ourselves. I glanced around the group of journalists huddled around the console to see the unit in action and watched as their eyes all followed as the demonstrator’s finger blithely activated functions, adjusted features, and customized settings.

The touchscreen takes a step of thinking out of the process, allowing the user to focus on the data, not the manipulation of the machine to wring the data from it. But the NSS goes beyond the touchscreen, retaining the buttons and knobs that add a sense of control when things feel a bit out of control. The Simrad team let me step up to that screen and operate the functions, and then as I was tweaking radar gain and adjusting the screen layout, they gunned that Contender up to 28 mph. At that speed, it gets tricky to hit what you’re aiming at, even with an index finder—seas weren’t very rough, and I wasn’t even driving. Here’s where the knobs and buttons come into play. You can put two fingers on the unit case and manipulate that knob with thumb and forefinger, and with confidence.

For more on the Simrad NSS 12, check out the next issue of PMY or visit