2020 Marine Electronics Buyers’ Guide - The Fisherman

2020 Marine Electronics Buyers’ Guide

In a growing market with ever-expanding features packed into affordable packages, this year’s electronics are breaking new ground and opening buyers to a whole new world of options.

The recurring theme that we quoted for our new Boats and Motors Buyer’s Guide last month of, “bigger, faster, better” applies with equal measure to the constantly changing work of marine electronics, with one very important addition… more affordable! Benefitting from the constant paradigm shifts in the world of computers, laptops, iPads/tablets and smart phones, marine electronics offer more capability than ever before and at modest price points that were improbable just a few years back. The winter boat show circuit is the perfect place to see these new marine electronics up close and personal, allowing for a three-dimensional inspection of controls and operating systems to determine if any of the new gear might find a home on your boat or in your travel bag. So sit back and enjoy the journey as we summarize some of the latest additions and innovations in the world of marine electronics.

I spoke to Communications Manager Jeff Kauzlaric recently about Furuno’s plans for 2020, and he mentioned that there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that they will introduce some exciting new products at the upcoming Miami Boat show in mid-February. The bad news is that they are keeping totally mum on the subject until the Miami product launch, so we’ll have to keep guessing what it might be.

FurunoBack in March of 2019, Furuno introduced the BBWX4 fourth-generation SiriusXM Marine Weather Receiver for NavNet TZtouch and NavNet TZtouch2. Furuno and SiriusXM have teamed up to bring you live, up-to-date weather information and forecasting, offering peace of mind to boaters and a crucial edge for fishermen, all over the US and southern Canada. By adding the BBWX4 to your NavNet TZtouch or TZtouch2 network, you can view real-time weather content that overlays on your NavNet plotter’s raster or vector charts. Essential, localized weather information and forecasting is critical to safe boating, and the BBWX4 makes keeping track of the weather effortless. Current weather reports, five-day forecasts, NOWRad nationwide high resolution weather radar imagery, storm tracking and lightning strikes, buoy reports, wave height forecasts and more are all available via your SiriusXM Marine Weather subscription. For the fisherman, high-resolution sea surface temperature mapping can help you to quickly locate fishing hot spots, helping to put you right on top of your catch of the day.

By adding SiriusXM Radio to your Marine service subscription, you can bring your favorite SiriusXM Satellite Radio channels with you onboard. Hundreds of your favorite channels featuring commercial-free music, live sports and sports talk, exclusive entertainment and world-class news can be accessed and controlled on any NavNet TZtouch2 MFD that’s connected to the BBWX4. SiriusXM Radio service is not available for first generation NavNet TZtouch. SiriusXM offers a variety of marine weather subscription packages to choose from. Inland, Coastal, or Offshore packages offer varying levels of detailed information to fit the needs of every boater. The new lower prices of the BBWX4 are about half of the cost of the previous generation BBWX3 receiver.

Furuno USA has also announced reduced pricing for its popular GP1871F and GP1971F Combo Units. The 7-inch GP1871F will be priced at $945, while the 9-inch GP1971F will have a retail price of $1,345; a price reduction of $150 and $250 respectively. This announcement came just prior to the fall boat show season, giving boaters plenty of time to compare models before making a purchasing decision. These GPS/WAAS Chart Plotters features an internal GPS antenna, which simplifies installation. A built-in CHIRP and conventional 50/200kHz Fish Finder gives fishermen the advantage of features such as RezBoost picture quality, ACCU-FISH fish size assessment and Bottom Discrimination to help you find the most productive fishing grounds. Adding feature-rich C-Map 4D charts will bring the whole system to life, and the unit’s Multi Touch interface makes them simple to use. These versatile combo units can even connect wirelessly to the Furuno DRS4W 1st Watch Wireless Radar, providing the perfect solution for boaters who don’t need a full NavNet TZtouch2 network. If you’ve always wanted Furuno quality electronics on your boat, now is the perfect time to take a look at the GP1871F and GP1971F Combo Units.

For more information, visit www.furunousa.com.


Garmin recently announced a trio of new product offerings. The first of these is the ECHOMAP Ultra series, a new line of keyed-assist, 10- and 12-inch touchscreen chartplotters designed to bring professional performance to inland and nearshore anglers. Offering a best-in-class sonar solution, the ECHOMAP Ultra series has built-in support for Garmin’s crystal-clear Ultra High-Definition scanning sonar as well as the award-winning Panoptix LiveScope series, including the new single-array LVS12, that delivers live scanning sonar images of structure, bait and fish swimming below and around the boat in real time. Preloaded with Garmin’s latest cartography, LakeVü g3 maps and BlueChart g3 charts with integrated Navionics data and Auto Guidance1 technology, the ECHOMAP Ultra series has the power and functionality to meet the demands of today’s anglers.

According to the Garmin folks I talked with at the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show back in October, ECHOMAP Ultra forges the DNA of Garmin’s popular ECHOMAP Plus series together with premium features of their GPSMAP chartplotters, to deliver an exciting new series that brings professional performance to larger, more affordable display options. These new chartplotters are the perfect solution for anglers who want the best sonar and mapping available, but still want the convenience of an all-in-one design that can be quickly installed and removed from the boat at the end of the day.

GarminFor crystal-clear scanning of fish and structure, the ECHOMAP Ultra 106sv and ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv are available bundled with the new Ultra High-Definition GT54UHD-TM all-in-one transducer that provides the highest ClearVü and SideVü scanning sonar images and clear high/wide CHIRP traditional sonar. For extended range and depth performance, the GT54UHD-TM’s SideVü operates at 455 kHz. ECHOMAP Ultra chartplotters are also compatible with the full line of Panoptix all-seeing sonar transducers, including the new Panoptix LiveScope LVS12 and the Panoptix LiveScope System, so anglers can see real-time sonar imagery at video-like speed. The new ECHOMAP Ultra 106sv and ECHOMAP Ultra 126sv are also available without a bundled transducer.

Staying connected on and off the water with the ECHOMAP Ultra series is easier than before. On the water, sonar, waypoints and routes can be shared across multiple ECHOMAP Ultra units as well as ECHOMAP Plus 7- and 9-inch units. The new ECHOMAP Ultra series also has NMEA 2000 connectivity and support for heading sensors, autopilots, digital switching and more. And thanks to built-in Wi-Fi, anglers can take advantage of the free all-in-one Garmin ActiveCaptain mobile app that creates a simple-yet-powerful connection between a compatible mobile device and an ECHOMAP Ultra. ActiveCaptain allows users to update and purchase maps and charts from the OneChart storefront on a mobile device anytime, reference the ActiveCaptain community for marina and other points of interest details, access to Quickdraw Community data and more. ActiveCaptain also provides smart notifications directly to the chartplotter, over-the-air software updates, off-vessel planning capabilities and so much more.

Also new for 2020 are the GPSMAP 86 handheld series of portable GPS chartplotters and the GPSMAP Plus Series of MFDs. Building on the popularity of the GPSMAP 7×2/9×2 and 12×2 Touch series, the Plus lineup maintains all the existing features and offers significantly enhanced integration capabilities like J1939 engine integration and compatibility with OneHelm, an exclusive feature that simplifies control and customization of the boat’s most crucial systems to one master source—the Garmin MFD. For the first time, the GPSMAP Plus series brings this capability to 7- and 9-inch displays, providing added convenience, control and security onboard. Since launching this innovative HTML5 platform designed for third-party companies in 2018, systems and technologies from 16 industry brands—offering lighting, stabilization, digital switching and more—have been integrated into OneHelm, which is supported across the entire GPSMAP Plus series.

For more information, visit www.garmin.com.


Introduced at the July 2019 ICAST show, Humminbird’s new MEGA 360 allows inshore and freshwater anglers to surround themselves with more detail than ever before. New MEGA 360 Imaging sweeps up to 125 feet in every direction around your boat to deliver the clearest images you’ve ever seen of structure, the bottom and fish, even while you’re sitting still. That means more accurate casts, more unforgettable moments and more incredible MEGA Imaging all around.

HumminbirdLike underwater radar, the MEGA 360 Imaging beam rotates giving you a 360-degree view of the water that’s constantly updating—with your boat at the center. Fish won’t ever see you coming–allowing you to cast and hook fish before they even know you’re there. Whether you’re testing new waters or working a proven fishing hole, Humminbird can help you see fish you won’t find alone. MEGA 360 Imaging is compatible with SOLIX Series and HELIX Series fish finders equipped with MEGA Imaging+. In addition to unmatched detail and coverage, Humminbird provides built-in mapping, impressive screen resolution, intuitive control and many other features that lead anglers to choose Humminbird. MEGA 360 Imaging will change your perspective on fishing. How you see it is up to you. Custom viewing options let you choose how your returns appear, so you can dial them in based on your fishing style, conditions and what you’re after; because more control means more confidence on the water. You can dial-in split-screen views to compare your MEGA 360 Imaging returns with maps and other sonar views to see the bigger picture. Six beam rotation speeds allow for the right balance of image quality and refresh rate. The 10X zoom mode allows anglers to get up close and personal with fish, structure, vegetation and other bottom details. See a promising echo at 1 o’clock? Just mark a waypoint directly on your Humminbird screen and let range rings show you the distance from your boat to the target. Then simply line up and cast to where the fish are. You can customize your sweep area from 360 degrees down to 10 degrees. Use preset view options, like 45 degrees in front of your boat, to find and cast to productive spots without spooking fish. MEGA 360 is compatible with SOLIX G2 MFDs and can be directly connected to a variety of Humminbird’s 10-, 12- and 15-inch displays. MEGA 360 is also compatible with a handful of Humminbird’s Helix 8-, 9-, 10- and 12-inch MFDs.

The MEGA 360 Imaging transducer mounts independently to the trolling motor, keeping a constant orientation and imaging in a 360-degree circle out to 125 feet. A key benefit to MEGA 360 is its ability to provide full use of the trolling motor, so anglers can utilize Spot-Lock and other important Minn Kota features without impacting their ability to use 360-degree sonar. This imaging technology provides anglers with a clear understanding of what’s below the water all around the boat, allowing anglers to mark and cast to structure accurately. Humminbird’s new MEGA 360 Imaging can be viewed side-by-side with Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar or mapping. Dual Spectrum CHIRP sonar shows a 2D representation of what is below the boat, while GPS and lake maps keep navigation and waypoint details at your fingertips.

For more information, visit www.humminbird.com.


Lowrance, a world-leader in fishing electronics since 1957, recently announced the launch of their new HALO20+ and HALO20 radars; a pair of compact, pulse compression radome units that are perfectly designed for smaller fishing boats.

This new HALO series includes two models that cater to the differing needs of boaters. Both radars provide excellent detection with unrivalled short-range performance, while HALO20+ features the fastest RPM rotation on the market, VelocityTrack, Dual Range operation and can detect targets from a greater distance than HALO20.

LowranceHALO20+ radar delivers a full 360-degree sweep every second, thanks to its industry-first 60 RPM rotation at ranges up to 1.5 nautical miles. These ultra-fast updates give anglers an almost real-time view at close range, offering the ultimate view for collision avoidance of fast-moving targets. Ideal for a wide range of fishing boats, HALO20+ comes in a compact dome antenna and delivers high-quality short, mid and long-range detection. Anglers can monitor two distance ranges at once in Dual Range mode allowing them to keep an eye on distant weather cells, while watching for collision hazards nearby. HALO20+ radar’s pulse compression technology means no compromises in detection at either selected range, while beam sharpening provides enhanced separation between small or distant targets.

With HALO20+, anglers can identify hazards quickly with VelocityTrack Doppler technology, which delivers instant feedback on whether targets are coming toward you or moving away. Simple color coding highlights potential hazards, improving situational awareness and further reducing the risk of a collision. HALO20+ radar automatically checks every target in range, so there’s no need to manually select individual targets, and no limit to the number of targets on screen at one time.

HALO20 is a cost-effective solution for anglers to increase situational awareness and collision avoidance, detecting collision hazards and other targets nearby and up to 24 nautical miles away. With its small footprint and low profile, HALO20 is the perfect radar solution for more budget-conscious buyers with smaller fishing boats.

HALO20 radar also delivers a comprehensive range of features to enhance your situational awareness and on-water safety. Anglers can monitor selected collision hazards with MARPA target tracking, tracking up to 10 targets. Whether navigating through crowded waterways or contending with poor visibility, HALO20 radar cuts through the clutter to give anglers a clear and current picture of their surroundings.

Both HALO20+ and HALO20 radars offer MARPA Target Tracking, InstantOn technology and Harbor, Offshore, Weather and custom modes that tune the radar’s advanced signal processing to help ensure that targets can be seen vividly, even in the toughest environmental conditions.

For more information, visit www.lowrance.com.


FLIR Systems, the parent company of Raymarine, recently announced the introduction of the Raymarine Element S, a new series of navigation displays for fishermen and boaters. Building on the success of FLIR’s Raymarine Element HV Series with HyperVision sonar, the Element S models feature a rugged all-weather display, lightning-fast processing speed and straightforward operation. And they do this for captains who don’t want or need the capability or extra expense of sophisticated sonar.

RaymarineElement S is available in 7-, 9-, and 12-inch display models, all of which feature bright, high-contrast 1,500-nit screens for exceptional visibility. A 64-bit quad-core processor delivers unrivaled speed, resulting in smooth page and menu transitions and instantaneous chart redraws. Element S features a fast and accurate built-in 10Hz GPS sensor and supports charts from leading mapmakers, including Raymarine’s new LightHouse NC2 charts, Navionics and C-MAP. Captains can rely on Element S to help navigate congested waterways with increased awareness and confidence using an optional Raymarine Quantum wireless CHIRP radar or an AIS receiver. Quantum brings award-winning solid-state radar capability, while Element S’s AIS overlays intelligently identify approaching targets. In addition to radar and AIS support, the Element S series features NMEA 2000 connectivity for autopilot and VHF DSC integration, along with the display of sailing instruments, engine data, and fuel tank level information. Element S allows storage of up to 5,000 waypoints in 200 different groups, plus 50 routes and 15 tracks. Element S’s LightHouse Sport operating system is designed for boaters who value simplicity and ease of operation, featuring uncomplicated menus and intuitive keypad controls to help captains get underway fast and stay on course. Dedicated keypad controls keep the screen free of fingerprints. Live menus make it possible to change settings or customize charts while seeing the navigation display change in real time. Additionally, three user-programmable quick keys provide instant access to favored pages, and an oversized waypoint button allows quick and easy marking of areas of interest. Element S helps anglers and boaters avoid underwater hazards by offering an integrated single-channel high CHIRP sonar for dependable bottom tracking and fish finding in depths up to 900 feet. Additionally, built-in RealBathy contour generation allows captains to map uncharted areas in real time. The ruggedized Element S is backed by a three-year warranty.

For more details, visit www.raymarine.com.


ICOMIcom has introduced a pair of marine VHF radios for 2020, one a hand held and the other a fixed mount unit. When out on the water, a radio that can withstand the harsh marine elements is a necessity. Icom’s latest marine VHF handheld is the new M37. It’s the perfect size, offering large keys and an easy-to-grip design. Boaters will appreciate the large LCD display that easily shows channel numbers and status icons. This radio is rugged enough for commercial use, yet refined for the pleasure boat market. The M37 has 6W of RF output power and boasts 700mW of audio output. And the battery is long lasting, with more than 12 hours of operating time (with the replaceable BP-296 battery pack). But the feature Icom is excited to include on this entry-level radio is a Channel History Function. This feature stores the last five channels used for easy recall at the press of a single key. The M37 was built to IP57 dust and waterproof protection rating. In addition, the AquaQuake draining function clears water away from the speaker grill to prevent the speaker from becoming waterlogged. Icom’s Float’n Flash feature allows the radio to float and be easily located with a flashing red LED light and LCD/key backlight.

Also new for 2020 is the M85IS (intrinsically safe) compact fixed-mount VHF, and with only 5W of output power, it has been listed by UL as safe for hazardous environments. Critical features for this compact handheld include an IP67 waterproof rating, built to MIL-810 Standards, a built-in voice scrambler and an automatic emergency alarm with Man Down/Lone worker and MOB alarm functions. The M85IS also has 100 programmable Land Mobile channels, which is perfect for any commercial workboat.

For more information, visit http://www.icomamerica.com/en/marine/.


SimradSimrad-Yachting, a sister company of Lowrance under their Navico corporate banner, is offering similar HALO20+ and HALO20 radar units for the 2020 season. But there’s more; also new is the Simrad Cruise, engineered to be one of the most simple and intuitive chartplotters on the market. Designed for simple and straightforward navigation, Cruise features a simple, easy-to-use interface, sunlight-viewable display, preloaded U.S. coastal charts, mounting bracket and sonar transducer. Taking ease of use to a new level, Simrad Cruise combines essential GPS features with basic depth-finding capability to deliver safe and reliable navigation at an extremely affordable price. Free from complicated fishing-specific sonar and networking features, Cruise eliminates the need for boaters to master complex electronics. The user interface is controlled with a rotary dial and keypad, ensuring smooth navigation through menus and provides the vital information needed for a safe and enjoyable time on the water from speed, depth and GPS location to course, battery level and temperature information. Users can also track the day’s boating activity with real-time performance data from Simrad TripIntel technology. Pre-loaded with U.S. coastal charts, Cruise is ready to use right out of the box. For maximum detail, users can also choose from a wide range of optional mapping upgrades from C-MAP and Navionics that include advanced features like C-MAP Easy Routing for a true automotive-like navigation experience. The Cruise transducer provides CHIRP sonar with excellent automatic depth tracking for worry-free operation without the need for fine tuning or pre-programming. Installation is easy, requiring only power and sonar cables.

Starting at $399, the new Simrad Cruise is available through select U.S. dealers nationwide. The unit is IPX7 waterproof rated and ideal for installation in open-air vessels such as bay, dual console, center console and open skiff boats and can be conveniently flush-mounted or bracket-mounted. Simrad Cruise comes in 5-, 7- and 9-inch display sizes.

Also new for 2020 is the Simrad RS40-B, the first VHF marine radio with AIS transmit and receive capability. Featuring a sleek design with wireless handset capability, removable fist microphone, Class D DSC functionality, built-in GPS and a Class B AIS transceiver, the Simrad RS40-B takes VHF marine performance to another level. The integrated Class B AIS transceiver in the RS40-B can receive position data from other vessels like the original RS40, but is the first VHF marine radio capable of sharing its position with nearby AIS-equipped vessels, improving collision avoidance in crowded waterways. Position data of other vessels is clearly viewable on the Simrad RS40-B screen or can be overlaid on top of a chart or radar through a compatible multifunction display over NMEA 0183 and NMEA 2000.

For more information, visit www.simrad-yachting.com.


Si-Tex Marine Electronics has introduced a Wi-Fi radar system for use with its popular NavPro Series MFDs. New for 2020, this high-resolution digital radar adds advanced features, functionality and performance to the 9-inch NavPro 900 and 12-inch NavPro 1200, providing safe navigation in even the most challenging conditions.

Wi-Fi integration with the advanced NavPro Series makes it easy to install and rig this 4kW, 24-inch compact radome radar on just about any vessel. By mounting and wirelessly syncing the Si-Tex MDS-12 Network Radome to a NavPro unit, boaters can turn these popular and affordable MFDs into powerful 36-nm range radars that deliver excellent target resolution and a range of features boaters expect from professional-grade Si-Tex radars.

Si-TexAlong with this new radar functionality, the NavPro Series delivers precision navigation using an internal 10Hz GPS/GLOSNASS receiver (with external GPS option) and the latest C-MAP 4D cartography.

It is also available with a choice of black box or integrated CHIRP sonar available in 46-65kHz, 100-140kHz or 180-200kHz frequency ranges, delivering superior fish finding performance over a wide range of situations. NavPro MFDs utilize Si-Tex’s Hybrid Touch Control for versatile operation using either the touchscreen display or a combination of hard keys, four-directional pad or rotary knob controls, making this radar easy to operate and understand. In addition, the NavPro Series’ “Mirror Control” feature and companion app enable compatible mobile devices to serve as remote displays or remote controls for operating the MFD.

The new MDS-12 4kW Network radar for the Si-Tex NavPro Series carries an MSRP of $1,599 (not including the NavPro 900 or NavPro 1200 MFD itself).

To learn more, visit www.si-tex.com.

Standard Horizon

The new Standard Horizon GX-series of VHF radios are upgrades to the Eclipse and Eclipse/DSC models. The GX1700 fixed mount VHF makes DSC easy. With an internal 12-Channel GPS built into the front panel, there is no need to hassle with wiring the radio to a GPS for DSC capability. DSC calling, position sharing, waypoint navigation, navigation to DSC distress calls can all be performed with just a few simple steps right out of the box. The Explorer GPS has a compact case that’s only 3.5 inches in depth, so it’s easy to mount almost anywhere onboard. The Built-In WAAS GPS receiver and antenna mounted in the front panel also gives the flexibility to flush mount the radio in tight areas.

Standard HorizonThe GX1700 is also capable of entering and saving up to 100 waypoints. These waypoints may be selected and navigated to by using a unique navigation compass display that shows your vessel’s SOG (speed over ground), COG (course over ground), BRG (bearing) and DST (distance) to the waypoint with the internal 12-channel WAAS GPS.

The GX1700 is an ITU-R M493 Class D class VHF with a separate Channel 70 receiver, which allows DSC calls to be received even when listening to communications. When activated, the DSC “DISTRESS” function transmits a digital MAYDAY, including vessel identification, Latitude/Longitude and the time.

If you need to remotely control the VHF from your cockpit or fly bridge, the GX1700 is RAM3+ remote mic capable to control all VHF, DSC functions at a second station.

You can easily share position information with other DSC-equipped vessels using the position request and position reporting functions. With the push of a few buttons you can request the position of another vessel, or simply send your position information to the vessel you select.

The GPS position of a received DSC Distress or Position Request call can be shown on a compatible GPS Chart plotter simply by connecting 2 NMEA wires, and it can automatically poll the GPS position of up to four stations.

The GX1700 radio can be setup to scan any number of channels with or without a Channel 16 as the priority channel, or you can simply scan between a priority channel and one other channel in “dual watch” mode. Another neat feature is Clear Voice Noise Reduction Technology, eliminating unwanted background noises like engines and wind during transmission.

Ten NOAA and Canadian Weather channels are pre-programmed and easily selectable using the dedicated WX key, also providing an audible alert to inform of pending storm advisories.

If the GX1700 fails for any reason (including water damage) during normal use for the first three years of ownership, Standard Horizon will repair or replace it free, without hassles or charges for as long as the original purchaser owns the radio.

Standard Horizon’s Lifetime Flat Rate and Customer Loyalty Service Programs will cover it. Also new for 2020 are the ultra-compact HX40 handheld VHF and the fixed-mount Matrix GX2150 with built-in GPS and AIS.

For more information, visit www.standardhorizon.com.




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