Why Doesn’t BoatTEST.com Test Electronics? - 05/23/2018
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Garmin led the charge early on touchscreens, but with that came intuitive, easy-to-use design.

One BoatTEST.com reader wants to learn more about the latest marine electronics. He asked, “Why don't you do any reports on electronics, such as a chartplotter?” Funny you should ask.

Marine electronics have gotten much easier to use in the last few years. Electronics manufacturers used to develop their own user interfaces, based on the capabilities of their respective units. And while they still do that, now they understand better how customers interact with their electronics, and they’ve taken to hiring designers of user interfaces from other companies, namely cell-phone manufacturers.

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The Simrad NSS evo 3 has both touchscreen and physical controls, and offers expandable systems thanks to a wide range of peripherals including radars, fishfinders, and much more.

It also doesn’t hurt that boaters have gotten more fluent in using electronic devices, thanks to the mobile revolution. The fact that we all work with computers and mobile devices regularly as part of our day-to-day lives has surely made the manufacturers more bold in the systems they develop to maintain what they perceive as an edge on their competitors.

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Raymarine’s Axiom system offers sophisticated fishfinding, shown here in three views on one, split screen.

The result is electronics manufacturers creating more and more capabilities for their units – which, by the way, now have the processing power to handle them. The electronics companies are partnering with boatbuilders and engine manufacturers to integrate their devices with onboard systems, updating the software regularly, and sometimes even seamlessly, to deliver better features and functions, some of which are add-ons available for purchase.

But in the same way that electronics are simpler to use, they’re harder to create. That simplicity up front masks a much more complex system behind the scenes. There’s a lot to know about these systems, and how they are created and evolved to stay relevant as newer and better technology comes available.

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Furuno’s new GP-197F has a 9” display and loads of features in a powerful touchscreen package.

So the answer is yes, you will soon begin to see more reviews and coverage of marine electronics systems, including chartplotters, fishfinders, radar systems, VHF radios, safety devices such as EPIRBs and PLBs, and even some onboard entertainment systems. Let us know what else you want to see, and if you have questions about the systems available now or in the future, let us know and we’ll get the answers.

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