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In advance of the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show (FLIBS) kicking off tomorrow, Garmin just announced a massive update to their marine product line. By my count it’s at least nineteen new product SKUs. Let’s take a look at Garmin’s new; multifunction displays, Panoptix thru-hull, Fantom radar radome and NMEA 2000 connected VHF radios.

Fantom radar gets smaller and cheaper

Garmin Fantom radar 24 inch radome

The big news at the Miami boat show in February was Garmin and Furuno both announcing doppler radar at the same event. Besides some technical differences there was a big difference in form factor. Garmin introduced an open array scanner called Fantom. Furuno introduced a much less expensive radome based scanner – the NXT. The big news is that Garmin is now playing in Furuno’s backyard by introducing two new 40 watt Fantom radar scanners – an 18″ radome and a 24″ radome at $1999US and $2799US. That’s more than four thousand dollars cheaper than Garmin’s Fantom 4. Garmin’s new Fantom 18 is the first sub $2000 doppler based radome.

GPSMAP 8624 Screenshot showing VIRB image and doppler radar

As a bit of background, doppler technology is game changing because it highlights moving targets in a different color than stationary ones. In the screenshot in the top right quadrant you can see moving targets colored as green. Easier to use radar just got a lot cheaper. Raymarine’s non-doppler Quantum radome is now just $400 less than Garmins. This is likely going to put a lot of pressure on Raymarine to add this technology to its lineup.

Panoptix thru-hull for FrontVu forward looking sonar

PS51 Panoptix thru-hull transducer

When I attended Garmin’s media event in Miami I had a first hand demo of Panoptix forward looking sonar. It was rigged with a transom mount transducer and attached to one side of the test boat. Even with this temporary setup it impressed with its ability to see what was up ahead. At the time the thru-hull transducer – the PS60 – was the only thru-hull option at $3999US. It’s very pricey but does more than just scan forward with the ability to also show LIVEVU down and LIVEVU 3D down as well.

The newly introduced Panoptix PS51 ($1499US) just does FrontVu forward scanning but using a thru-hull transducer in a similar form factor to Navico’s $699US ForwardScan. Garmin claims the PS51 can see forward 8-10x the current depth – up to 300 feet. The main difference between Garmin and Navico’s transducers seem to be less about the transducer design and more about how the software interprets the signal and how the data is displayed. Another legal “game on?”

“Budget” multifunction displays with premium features

Touchscreen

GPSMAP 9x2xs

Garmin is following an overall trend towards a unified user interface across an entire category of products. A case in point is Raymarine’s Lighthouse software which is available on everything from 19″ glass bridge displays, down to 5.7″ touchscreen combos. Garmin’s GPSMAP series gets eight new touchscreen models along with six new keyed models. Of particular note is the 9″ addition to the touchscreen lineup and the 12″ addition to the keyed lineup.

The touchscreen series gets eight new models priced from $799US to $999US: 722, 742, 722xs, and 742xs. The 722 series comes with no maps and the 742 series comes with Bluechart g2 HD charts for the US, Canada, and Bahamas, along with US LakeVu charts. The “xs” models add Garmin CHIRP and CHIRP ClearVu support although you will need to purchase a transducer separately. The model series for the new 9″ touchscreen is the same as the 7″ series and ranges from $1099US to $1299US.

Buttons only

GPSMAP 12x2

While touchscreen is cool, in my opinion it’s often tough to use in rough seas or with wet cold hands. I favor a hybrid or key-only display based on how I use my boat. I also hate constantly smudging my display. There are six new models of non-touch multifunction displays ranging from $1699US to $1999US for a 10″ GPSMAP or $2399US to $2699US for a 12″ GPSMAP. Models in the 10″/12″ series are: 1022, 1022xsv, 1024xsv, 1222, 1222xsv, and 1242xsv. The “xsv” adds SideVu support in addition to support for CHIRP and CHIRP ClearVu.

The model variant missing versus the announced touchscreen models is a non-sonar MFD that includes charts. Confusingly Garmin’s website says the xsv models include a transducer but it doesn’t mention which one. Apparently you can optionally get one without a transducer and just an adaptor cable to connect to your existing sonar. Research carefully which model you need.

All models announced support Panoptix forward looking sonar. Additional features to mention include NMEA 2000 networking and WiFi support along with Garmin’s proprietary new ANT wireless support for devices not backward compatible with the old ANT. This would include the Nautix in-view display, quatix 3 smartwatch and recently announced GNX wireless wind sensor.

Redesigned VHF radios

Garmin VHF110 and VHF210AIS

If you are still with me during this virtual product launch, the last thing I’ll tell you about are the two new VHF radios Garmin just announced. To quote the press release:

“Featuring an updated industrial design and sleek aesthetics, these radios were built to compliment the latest GPSMAP chartplotters and multifunction displays (MFDs) and offer full integration with Garmin systems via NMEA 2000.”

I’ll have to admit the radios look sharp but there is nothing particularly ground breaking with these two models. Both the VHF 110 ($279US) and VHF 210AIS ($599US) support NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 connectivity and include a 2-way hailer system. There is also soft-key support and the usual 25 watts of transmit power. The VHF 210 includes an AIS receiver to keep track of other vessels. If I was in the market for a VHF radio I would buy a separate AIS transceiver so that my vessel could be seen!

Most of the products discussed won’t be available till early 2017 so if you want the latest and greatest you’ll have to be patient. If you are attending FLIBS this year it looks like an amazing show. Enjoy! Be sure to let me know what other cool stuff you discover!

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