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Old 05-17-2016, 06:26 AM   #1
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Choosing electronics...

For the past 20 plus years we have used Raytheon/Raymarine gear on our sailboats. We have had mixed results with Raymarine so for this American Tug 395, we will consider something different.
The names Garmin, Simrad and Furuno keep coming up.
My gut says Furuno, it is highest on my list. Several people I trust say Garmin, it is currently my third choice, not entirely sure why but I am unexited by Garmin...
Currently in second place is the Simrad lineup. Glass screens, the remains of Robertson autopilots and interesting looking radar systems are all in its favor.

I have been told that Furuno is no longer building superior equipment. I'm not sure what that means exactly... I wonder if I am running into people who are selling or make more money selling competitive products.

Anyone here have any insight or know of a place to turn for help?
Bruce
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Old 05-17-2016, 06:33 AM   #2
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I saw Garmins lineup at a show recently and I was very impressed by their product line. I'd try to find a boat show and see them all running in one place. It was very nice to compare how they all work.
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Old 05-17-2016, 06:38 AM   #3
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Personally, I doubt there are significant differences among the units at a given price point. I have used Ray Marine for the past 12 years on my sailboat. My new, to me, trawler came with a Garmin unit. After cruising the ICW for three weeks, I can say that I prefer the Ray Marine unit over the Garmin. Both chart plotter's are of approximately the same vintage.

Perhaps I prefer the Ray Marine because that is what I spent so much time with. I suspect that is the case when you ask others their opinion as well.

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Old 05-17-2016, 06:50 AM   #4
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You could have had mixed results with any of them over the last 20 years.

I worked as a marine electronics installer for 3 years and have been running most of the brands for the last 16 years as a commercial captain.

No clear cut winner anymore.....really never was. All have strengths and weaknesses...especially with certain models or product lines. No different than many other type products.

Pick what fits your budget and preferences. Now and where the product line will fit your boat as you upgrade.
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Old 05-17-2016, 06:53 AM   #5
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I have Furuno and find all that stuff to be excellent.


That said, my first recommendation would be more about whatever kind of user interface you're comfortable with. Not just touch/non-touch, but the whole GUI paradigm.


The second recommendation is that you source almost everything from the same manufacturer. That should reduce the potential for finger-pointing at "the other guys" is something on the network doesn't function as expected... and it also often means the GUI paradigm is similar on each of the components.


A third is about back-up systems, not just plotting software (for instance) but also the charts. For example, we chose a laptop application that is exactly the same as our plotter software... and uses the same (NOAA) charts. The existence of that laptop application influenced by choice of plotter. Then we also chose a couple tablet apps, one that uses the same raster charts, the other that uses different vector charts (C-Map) from what we have on the plotter and laptop. On-purpose redundancy, but with on-purpose similarities, and at the same time with on-purpose complementary data.


Of course you can/should also get more actual user comments on the various brands/components before deciding, but you might have to recognize that many will only be able to comment on what they have personal experience with... so that's not necessarily immediately comparative info.


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Old 05-17-2016, 07:00 AM   #6
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Another approach well worth considering:

Adventures of Tanglewood: Electronics 2.0
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Old 05-17-2016, 07:05 AM   #7
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I have Furuno NavNet 3D gear (plotter, radar, gps sensors, etc). If I were doing it all over today, I would go Garmin. Their current/latest range seems superior to me and significantly cheaper than Furuno.

But I would also carefully evaluate NOT going with a traditional MFD-based solution: I'd consider a computer-based system like MaxSea Time Zero and install a high-def monitor or 2. Updates to both software and hardware much easier.
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Old 05-17-2016, 07:18 AM   #8
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Quote:
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I saw Garmins lineup at a show recently and I was very impressed by their product line. I'd try to find a boat show and see them all running in one place. It was very nice to compare how they all work.
This is very good advice!

When I bought my trawler, it had fairly new Garmin electronics on it. Was planning to replace it all with Furuno which is what I have on my charter boat. My electronics guy was pushing me toward Simrad. After a 1,200 mile trip up the ICW and the boat show, decided to add some more Garmin and upgrade the radar antenna. Just didn't see enough meaningful difference to pick one over the other for my intended use.

Look at the different manufacturers' offerings based on YOUR intended use.

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Old 05-17-2016, 07:19 AM   #9
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But I would also carefully evaluate NOT going with a traditional MFD-based solution: I'd consider a computer-based system like MaxSea Time Zero and install a high-def monitor or 2. Updates to both software and hardware much easier.


I can't help the feeling that this is more prone to hardware issues than the traditional route over the long term. Don't know if the feeling is justified, but can't get past it in our own long search for upgrades.
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Old 05-17-2016, 07:28 AM   #10
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I have Furuno NavNet 3D gear (plotter, radar, gps sensors, etc). If I were doing it all over today, I would go Garmin. Their current/latest range seems superior to me and significantly cheaper than Furuno.

But I would also carefully evaluate NOT going with a traditional MFD-based solution: I'd consider a computer-based system like MaxSea Time Zero and install a high-def monitor or 2. Updates to both software and hardware much easier.
I understand the appeal of running a pc based system but I think I will pass on that one. I have been a Windows user for 20 years now and although I appreciate everything it has allowed, I am simply not interested in introducing that wildcard to my boat. I can just picture the thing initiating a reboot as the fog descends or something like that.

I understand that manufacturers use some form of operating system in all of these units but the scaled down versions seem to run more cleanly...

Thanks for the input though, you did get me thinking!
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Old 05-17-2016, 07:44 AM   #11
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But I would also carefully evaluate NOT going with a traditional MFD-based solution: I'd consider a computer-based system like MaxSea Time Zero and install a high-def monitor or 2. Updates to both software and hardware much easier.

We only have an external (flying bridge) helm, and in full sunlight I can't always see the display on our very decent quality laptop.

And then there are times when loose stuff on the bridge can go flying, as when we get sideways to a ship's wake or when we're coping with beam seas -- the "big end" of the pendulum, don'cha know -- so a laptop on the our bridge might not fare very well...

Laptop down below, feeding bolted-down monitor above? Naw... too complicated...

I've done two software updates to the NN3D MFD in about 7 years. One to MaxSea in that same period. Not a particularly onerous chore, and in fact the MaxSea update on the computers was the slightly more difficult one. I needed tech support from MaxSea in France to solve that. (Something to do with the SQL server stuff already installed on our versions of Windows 7.) Still... it was just a quick question, easily sorted, not difficult.

More periodic chart updates haven't been difficult: download (at home, on the broadband connection) and install. Copy to SD cards and carry those to the boat. Install on MFD. Install on laptop. Not a big deal.


Anyway, IMO, updates not a big deal. I'd expect that to be similar with all the other brands...

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Old 05-17-2016, 07:54 AM   #12
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My Garmin stuff works flawlessly and I find the software programs to be very intuitive. I hardly ever have to refer to the manuals. I have chart plotters, radar, sonar, AIS, autopilot, and VHS all networked and almost all Garmin.
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Old 05-17-2016, 07:56 AM   #13
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My Garmin stuff works flawlessly and I find the software programs to be very intuitive. I hardly ever have to refer to the manuals. I have chart plotters, radar, sonar, AIS, autopilot, and VHS all networked and almost all Garmin.
I have not heard a single complaint about Garmin...
Not sure why I am resisting this one. We have time so I am trying my best to be open minded!
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Old 05-17-2016, 08:36 AM   #14
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Greetings,
Mr. BrB. Not sure about currently but in the past Garmin software has been proprietary and any upgrades/updates have only been available from Garmin. For a $$$ price, of course.

ANY system you do buy should be intuitive to you. We have very dated equipment but it works for us. Our "newest" units are Garmin 540S (GPS/sonar). I have found there is WAY too much information available and most features I have never used. Old school and stubborn I suppose...

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Old 05-17-2016, 08:49 AM   #15
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Greetings,
Mr. BrB. Not sure about currently but in the past Garmin software has been proprietary and any upgrades/updates have only been available from Garmin. For a $$$ price, of course.

ANY system you do buy should be intuitive to you. We have very dated equipment but it works for us. Our "newest" units are Garmin 540S (GPS/sonar). I have found there is WAY too much information available and most features I have never used. Old school and stubborn I suppose...

Love the GIF! Sums up so much about me too...
Like any software package, there are layers and layers of features and capability built into most of these systems. I can't imagine anyone uses all of it!
We just want a reliable, easy to learn system that doesn't force us to go through 3 or 4 steps when you want to change your heading by 5 degrees...

I love the idea of the glass front packages sold by Simard and Furuno. Everything in the communication bus is available on those screens and they look easy to use.

I like shopping for boat gear, this should be fun!
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Old 05-17-2016, 08:54 AM   #16
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My boat has hardwired and outdated equipment that still works. Analog radar and an older Garmin with a small screen. Recently purchased Navionics software for the iPad, a Bad Elf Pro+ GPS receiver using bluetooth and am getting ready to buy the Furuno DRS4W wireless radar unit that also will play on the iPad and doesn't require wiring beyond power source.

Direct replacement on the original equipment would have been in the $10+ range for what was wanted in a chart plotter and radar, but the boat can be updated for less than $1400 - even if I decide to keep the old hardwired stuff as a backup. Money saved can be used elsewhere.
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Old 05-17-2016, 09:11 AM   #17
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I can't imagine anyone uses all of it!
Bruce
Head down to Dania Florida and take Oliver(member here with a 47 Nordy) shopping with you. He knows what everything does and why

Seriously though reading the link to Tanglewood's blog provided up thread would be worthwhile. Caveat emptor electronics do not necessarily talk or play well with each other even within brand families.
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Old 05-17-2016, 09:15 AM   #18
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Head down to Dania Florida and take Oliver(member here with a 47 Nordy) shopping with you. He knows what everything does and why

Seriously though reading the link to Tanglewood's blog provided up thread would be worthwhile. Caveat emptor electronics do not necessarily talk or play well with each other even within brand families.
I saw the blog...
I'm sure there have been issues with this technology as it has been introduced!
We've experienced this kind of thing with our Raymarine gear (even within the family) when it was using the original Seatalk bus...

At least today you no longer have to remove components and send them in for updates!

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Old 05-17-2016, 09:27 AM   #19
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Not sure about currently but in the past Garmin software has been proprietary and any upgrades/updates have only been available from Garmin. For a $$$ price, of course.
I just completed a complete replacement of all my electronics, top to bottom. After an exhaustive investigation of all the top brands and playing with all of them at West Marine, (Recommended) I went with Raymarine. The plotters are incredibly intuitive, the HD Color radrar is terrific and the fish finder (depth sounder) better than I expected. Especially the "Down Vision" that is on the Raymarine Es 128. In shallow water fishing, you can't beat it! The Es127 & 128 have WiFi and even other non Raymarine hardware like my Maretron Fuel management System communicates with the plotters seamlessly. All screens are "pinch" or "knob" to expand or reduce the graphics and I find myself using both with ease.

I agree with others that there is not a dime's worth of difference among the leaders but I found Furuno's radar to be the best but Raymarine's was better than Garmin & Simrad. Also, the raymarine A/P has a lot of neat features and is a breeze to use.

My decision boiled down as to what units were the most intuitive & Raymarine won going away!
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Old 05-17-2016, 09:41 AM   #20
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You should go around and play with the various models and makes and get the one whose interface and ergonomics fit you best. One thing I will say about Furuno is that their customer support and service is outstanding, many many years after the sale.
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