- By Randy Vance

George Clooney played a “Dapper Dan man” who spent much of his Depression-era odyssey in search of his chosen hair pomade in the movie Oh Brother, Where Art €ou? You might be commi ed in a similar way about chart plo ing and sonar equipment—a Garmin man or a Simrad man. Well, this analysis is designed for the uncommi ed looking for the device that brings them the best value in terms of useful features and comfortabl­e pricing. THIS IS NOT A TEST

We’ve run all these machines at various times and places, and learned much about their interfaces and features. But the biggest chess game in selecting a sonar brand is knowing what’s behind the screen. This BoatingLAB will do that: Give you a clear look at the innards of the purchase. We analyzed only 7-inch devices, but each of the manufactur­ers of these MFDs o€ers multiple screen sizes for an added cost. However, these 7-inchers are bound to give you outstandin­g navigation­al capabiliti­es in a device compact enough for most dashboards. Got more space and scratch? Step up to a 9-, 10-, 12-, 15-inch or higher—larger screens sometimes sport additional features.

One more note: All devices use NMEA 2000 (N2K) protocol, some use Ethernet, and most use Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth allow interfacin­g with a number of devices, like trolling motors and shallow-water anchors, and with smartphone apps— which can make you an armchair skipper until you transfer the info to the device on board.


Simrad developed this new MFD series and operating system to give users an experience as familiar as a smartphone. Icons (or tiles) for sonar, autopilot, radar, charting and more are arranged in rows. While a chart is displayed, there is a row of active and frequently used tiles alongside, making it easy to switch functions. Screens are bright and high-resolution, and can be divided into four panes, such as to display charting, sonar, radar and StructureS­can sonar all at once. Though designed to be multitouch-operated. It has a broad array of

built-in sonars and comes with chirp, StructureS­can and a DownScan transducer with a temperatur­e gauge. Simrad expects this new operating system to phase out existing ones over time.

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