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Sunday, January 13, 2013

More on Chart Plotters

Editor's Note:  Since writing this post, Simrad has released support for Jeppesen C-Map charts in addition to the previously supported Navionics charts.  With this addition, Simrad chart availability matches Furuno, and allows for use of the same charts with Coastal Explorer.

I've been researching chart plotters as part of trying to finalize what I want to use.   As discussed earlier, the various vendors offer different chart sources, so I decided to look into it from that angle.  I made a list of the more out-of-the-way places where we envision going, then checked to see what was available from each vendor.  You can see the chart below, but here's my take-away:
  1. Garmin is out.  Lots of missing coverage, including no coverage of Japan.  What's with that?
  2. Furuno has the best and most diverse coverage because they offer both Navionics and C-Map.  The only thing they do not have (nobody else does either) is the antarctic peninsula, and it would probably be unwise for us to go there in our boat anyway.
  3. Simrad (via Navionics) also has excellent coverage.  The only place they fall short relative to Furuno is the stretch of Russia between the Aleutian Island chain and Japan.
Given this, I'm comfortable with the Simrad coverage, and can fill in any gaps using C-map (or other) charts on Coastal Explorer or MaxSea running on a PC.


Region
Simrad
std Navionics
Furuno proprietary
version of
Navionic, C-Map, HO-57
Garmin proprietary
Coastal Explorer
std navionics, c-map, HO57, HO-63
Aleutian chain
Y
Y
Y
Y
Pac rim
Y
Y
Y
Y
Greenland
Y
Y
Y
Y
NW Passage
Y
Y
N
Y
Svalbard
Y
Y
Y
Y
Falklands
Y
Y
Y
Y
S. Georgia
Y
Y
N
Y
Antarctic peninsula
N
N
N
?
Russia, Aleutians
to Japan
N
Y
N
Y
Japan
Y
Y
N
Y



I've also spent some more time looking at Furuno's most recent announcements to try and get a sense of where they are going.  Here's my reading of the tea leaves:
  • The NavNet3D products are not receiving any further development.  This includes the MFD8, MFD12, and Black Box.  These products are about 5 years old now, and the last software update was 2 years ago.  An update has been "very close" for at least 6 months, but still nothing. Other than bug fixes, I don't expect to see much new.
  • In the mean time, the TZ line has been released with touch screens.  They also just announced a Black Box version.  All new features appear to be coming out in the TZ line which is part of why I think they have stopped evolving the NN3D products.
  • It strikes me that they have focused on chasing Raymarine and Garmin with all this 3D and touch screen stuff, neither of which are of any interest to me, and in doing so, left their core historic following hanging out in the breeze.  The NN3D is too flaky, and I'm seeing even more complaints about the TZ.
It's sad, but I think they really screwed the pooch.  It will be interesting to see what comes out over the next few months and maybe there will be a surprise in there somewhere.  But at this point I have reshuffled the stack and Simrad is the plan of record with Furuno next, and Garmin pushed below the cut line.

So a few days ago I came across a really good deal on a Simrad NSO black box with a 17" monitor and bought it to try out.   I plan to bench test it for a while, see how it links with MaxSea and Coastal Explorer, try the charts, and generally see how it works.  Then I'll take it over to my boat (which in on the hard) and plug it in to see how it works with everything else.  The new N60 won't be set up the same as the Grand Banks, but it will be pretty close so I should be able to get a pretty good feel for things.

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