Standard Horizon CPV555
Combine a top-the-line VHF radio with a competent chartplotter/fishfinder, and you get Standard Horizon's unusual and under-appreciated CPV series, which began with a seven-inch display and now also comes in this jumbo 12-inch unit. Given its considerable size you may not save any helm space, but man, you get a lot of function out of one simple install and a pretty squared-away interface. The radio—in particular, complex DSC functions like filling out and using buddy lists—benefits from the as-needed availability of massive screen real estate, especially as the screen is notably sharp and bright. For the same reason, plus fast redraw and the best C-Map Max chart presentation software I've seen to date, the plotter is a pleasure to use. This combo unit is naturally good at plotting DSC calls, but while it can also plot AIS targets streamed in from a separate receiver, it cannot (yet) initiate a DSC call to an AIS target. There are more innovations to be made combining GPS, DSC VHF, and AIS, and maybe Standard Horizon will make them. The retail price for the CPV555 is $3,833, the smaller CPV350 $1,833, but street prices seem much lower.
This article originally appeared in the February 2008 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.