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British marine electronics icon Raymarine – full speed ahead

by Rob Kothe, Marine on 28 Feb 2012
Raymarine’s e7 with new e9 and e125 multifunction displays .
The British marine electronics company Raymarine, one of the industry icons of the 21st century, now part of the giant FLIR empire, Raymarine is powering along in open water with good speed, launching an impressive range of new products.

Raymarine’s latest offerings include two new mid and large format e95 (9''-22.86cm) and e125 (12''-30.46cm) multifunction displays (MFD) are a further development from the compact e7, the world’s first 7'' MFD to provide networking with up to six displays plus accessories.

( We often wonder why they are just called displays, perhaps so as not to scare older boaters - but these powerful GPS fitted marine computers with integrated touch screen and button controls are so much more than displays – but perhaps MFD is easier)

The two larger screen options of the HybridTouch™ e series, with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, are available in both touch screen and a non-touch screen display – definitely desirable in heavy offshore conditions where a touch screen is impractical.

As Raymarine Asia Managing Director Ben Bowley explains ‘The new MFD’s are very significant, they provide a very strong hardware platform for the future. The advances here and a range of software upgrades in March, June and later in year, will future proof the investment.

MarineBusiness-World tested the equipment with the new free Raymarine Viewer App on my iPhone4, last week whilst on Sydney’s Pittwater.

I was impressed with the live video streaming and it is clear the Apple iPad is effectively a below deck display.

'The Raymarine system is providing a dedicated local wireless network on board, quite independent of availability or otherwise of any internet/phone access

The MFD screen display, whether showing navigation charts, thermal video, radar or sonar information, can be accessed from anywhere on board (within carbon fibre limitations) via mobile iOS devices and the upcoming software upgrades will surely expand this feature to other phones and tablets.

[Sorry, this content could not be displayed] By means of Bluetooth connectivity, the Raymarine user has the ability to control the MFD’s with an optional remote control unit – the RCU-3, which can be mounted on a boat’s steering wheel or used as an independent handheld device.

In our next article we will highlight the benefits of this device.

Raymarine has developed a new user interface – Lighthouse - which brings familiar touch screen navigation and customisation options together into an easy to navigate package.

Three computer processors make the e and c series impressive - a dual core main processor for fast multitasking and a third dedicated graphics processor give stunning 3D graphics, high quality video and almost instantaneous chart redraws.

These are super-bright LCD displays backlit with LEDs to improve overall power efficiency and provide excellent brightness control. The displays are impressive; clear with good colour and contrast levels, even at significant viewing angles.

There are also e and c series specifically adapted for fishermen, incorporating built-in Clear Pulse sonar, targeting fish and showing bottom structures and contours with great clarity.

The units can also be connected to through-hull or in-hull transom transducers, with 50 channel, high sensitivity internal GPS and are available with Navionics ready-to-navigate coastal charts supplied on microSD cards.

Overall a very impressive product range - with lots of reasons to upgrade.

As Bowley comments ‘For many boat owners, having great new technology is all very well, but we need to remove any impediments and fitting into the existing dash can be a major issue.

‘The Raymarine Classic c and e series released in 2005-2006 sold thousands around Australia and now many of those owners want hybrid touch screens. Raymarine has made it very easy to upgrade with a set of bezels and adaptor plates to make the dash/bulkhead install quick and easy. Take out the old display, fit the appropriate adaptor plate (no need to drill new holes or make a new cut out), drop in the new e or c series, fit the mounting screws to the pre-drilled holes and clip on the new adaptor bezel. Too easy.’

Raymarine Asia National Sales and Marketing Manager Mark Leach provided some perspective. ‘The world is changing quickly. Many sailors and powerboat owners can go boating with just one screen. That doesn’t give you the redundancy factor, but the iPad/iPhone connectivity and soon other phones and tablets, gives you a below deck or back of boat display and that couples nicely with the remote control unit and the ability to do some work off the boat.

‘For the yachtie, commercial fisherman and the weekend fishing warrior, to be able to do things at home is a major benefit. For example, for route planning, using a Navionics Mobile app can touch the screen where you want your way points check that it keeps you off the land then save. Come back to it when you are next on the boat - come to the boat and sync straight to it.’

Raymarine MD Bowley was smiling at the end of this strategic product launch. ‘These new products are a direct dividend from FLIR's investments in Raymarine.

'FLIR is a huge global company and has been very good for Raymarine. There was an injection of funds into R and D and marketing and when you look at the products that have arrived today; you can see FLIR has definitely had an influence.’

Yes Raymarine is delivery impressive news products and seems poised for major growth!

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