At the Miami 2018 show, Furuno introduced interesting new products aimed at both ends of the market. Prominent at its booth were two strikingly large multitouch displays driven by a single TZtouch2 black box, a good choice for larger vessels and an especially easy upgrade for existing Furuno black box systems. But nearby were entirely redesigned multitouch 7- and 9-inch plotter/fishfinders, plus an innovative new autopilot that confirms Furuno is giving more attention to systems for smaller boats.
NavNet TZtouch2 Black Box
This unit—also known as the TZT2BB—is fairly similar to the original NavNet TZtouch Black Box (TZTBB), which is still available. However, the new version features dual HDMI monitor outputs (instead of DVI), along with the ability to support different resolutions on each screen, including the recommended FHD 1920 x 1080 pixels, which were scaled even higher on a wild Hatteland 55-inch “Chart Table” in the Miami booth. I’m beginning to wonder if TZT2 will replace TZT in the near future.
When Panbo covered the 2015 launch of the TZT2, the new MFDs were positioned as less-expensive alternatives to the heavy-duty TZT hardware, and ideal for medium-size boats. The TZT2 software was also freshly rebuilt on the Android platform and lacked some features. But that strategy could be winding down, as some of the TZT radar controls that were missing on the early iteration of the TZT2 have been added with firmware updates.
Furuno is pitching the new TZT2BB as an easy update for the aging NavNet MFDBB, which, after all, was news in 2007. The TZT2BB doesn’t have a retail price yet, but Furuno says it should be under $6,000 when the box is ready to ship.
Furuno’s new 7-inch GP-1871F and 9-inch GP-1971F were looking bright and modern in Miami. They are multi touch glass-bridge-style displays competitive in many ways with similar size MFDs from the other big brands, but it makes good sense for Furuno to bill the design as a “chartplotter with a built-in CHIRP fishfinder,” even if it also supports a radar option. That’s because these displays do not network with NavNet MFDs and their various Ethernet radars, black box sonars, etc., and they don’t use the TimeZero charting engine seen in NavNet. Instead, they use C-Map’s charting software and are reportedly manufactured by C-Map, as were earlier plotter/fishfinder models, including the GP1870F. But there’s clearly some Furuno/C-Map collaboration, as shown in the added features and the new interface.
The GP-1x71F displays integrate over WiFi with Furuno’s DRS4W 1st Watch Wireless Radar. When this inexpensive radome first came out I wondered if a stand-alone iPad radar made sense, but then the Nobeltec/MaxSea TimeZero charting app
integrated with it. Now, you can use it on a waterproof 7- or 9-inch display, which convinces me of its value. In fact, the
TimeZero iPad app and the new GP plotter/fishfinders will apparently have a relationship even without a radar involved, though the details aren’t spelled out yet.
The new GP-1x71F interface has various TZT2-like features, such as slide-out menus and a slick screen page creation system. There’s also a C-Map online weather screen, touch-friendly waypoint management and a multi touch method of enlarging a function window to full screen. Again, retail pricing is not set yet, but expect it to cost about $1,195 for the GP-1871F and $1,695 for the GP-1971F.
NavPilot-300 with Gesture Control
The new NavPilot-300 is an autopilot for small- to mid-size boats, and seems to be aimed at owners of outboard-powered center consoles as it features Fantum feedback steering and self learning software, which simplifies installation, and even the processing unit is waterproof. While NavPilot 300 shares a lot of the features found on the NavPilot 711C/OB, truly novel is the wireless Gesture Controller included in the $1,550 retail price. (The price increases to $2,145 with a PG-700 heading sensor.)
The NavPilot-300 processing unit uses NMEA 2000 to communicate with its color control head, and with the control apps on TZT2 or GP-1x71F displays, but it’s Bluetooth that connects a handheld autopilot remote. The Gesture Controller is a low-power Bluetooth remote designed to work directly with the processor unit as well as the display. To use the device, simply press a button on the controller and then point it in the direction you want the boat to go.
When Furuno’s Eric Kunz demonstrates gesture control, it does indeed look easy to operate. It could be particularly useful for a fisherman when he has to step away from the helm to tend lines. Anglers can also use the 300’s “Sabiki Mode” to steer stern-to wind or current while working a hot spot. So, yes, Furuno’s new electronics suite for smaller boats is aimed at the fishing crowd, but Sabiki is also useful for cruisers who have to wait on bridges. Add the cruising prowess of C-Map 4D, plus optional radar, and this Furuno setup could serve as an all-around system.
LH-5000 Loud Hailer
This new unit goes back to Furuno’s commercial roots. The LH-3000 was designed for heavy-duty service, but this new model brings the fore and/or aft hailing power up to 30 watts from 20, and increases the number of intercom channels to six.
In addition, each channel can be renamed. As a result, you can customize a channel’s name so you know who you are talking to. “IC5” could be labeled as “Engine Rm,” for instance. It’s also possible to alarm all stations with a single button or a wired relay input.
While I value the flybridge-to-main-cabin intercom on Gizmo, the LH-5000 ($995) is a utility audio beast that might serve well on, say, a big crab fishing boat and will likely endure Deadliest Catchconditions for a long time. This speaks to Furuno’s core market and old-school reputation. However, when you think about the range of the new products discussed here—from Android-swiping interfaces to point-and-shoot autopilot control—it seems Furuno does not easily fit into any one slot. ρ
For more information on these systems as originally written by Ben Ellison visit Power & Motoryacht-sponsored panbo.com.