The Miami boat show was a blast, and as usual, we saw a whole new crop of crazy cool gadgets from the likes of Garmin, Furuno, and DeLorme, among others. Of course, there were lots of other cool intros beyond electronics: new boats, boating gear, lifts, fishing gear, and more. But since everyone’s treading like crazy when trying to keep up to date on what’s hot and new in marine electronics, let’s start there.
Garmin rolled out their new line of low-light and infra-red cameras, which look like mini R2-D2 robots mounted on the hard top or T-top. We spent an evening cruising around Biscayne Bay, watching their images on a Garmin chartplotter screen. The most impressive thing about them is their zooming ability. While over a mile from shore we could see the details on buildings right down to windows and doors, and even people walking down the sidewalk, even through the sun had dropped below the horizon. The controls are also nifty, since you use the chartplotter touch-screen to pan, zoom, and auto-set the cameras.
Furuno introduced it’s much-anticipated Navnet TZ Touch, a touch-screen version of the Navnet system. The screen was gloriously bright, menu functions were so intuative a child could figure out how to navigate across the bay, and this is the first marine touch-screen to offer pinch-and-pull zooming. But… there aren’t back-up buttons, so small boat owners will have trouble using this system when it gets rough out.
DeLorme officially introduced the inReach to the marine world, and this product is so uber-cool the Innovation Awards judges (of which I am one) gave it the best new electronics award. It works like a SPOT satellite messenger to send 911 messages to the authorities in case of emergency, but this little gadget can also talk with your cell phone via Bluetooth. Link the two up, and you can use the phone to send and receive texts, which the inReach then bounces off Iridium satellites. You don’t need cell service at all, so this basically enables two-way texting anywhere, anytime, from pole to pole.
Stay tuned – next time, we’ll talk about some of the non-electronic goodies introduced at Miami!