GME and Garmin will release their largest number of new products ever at this year’s Sanctuary Cove Boat Show, 24-27 May. Sail-World spoke to GME’s Warwick Clancy about the large range of entertainment products that his company has developed. The range includes CD and DVD players specifically designed for marine use; you can even take them out for a wet and wild tinnie ride.
Things have come along way since the days of rowing out to the boat with a transistor radio firmly clamped to your ear, with a bunch of kids clambering to have a turn. ‘Shush,’ said the adult with the transistor self importantly, ‘I’m trying to hear the cricket score.’
Later on some friends, who were too miserable to buy batteries, used to go fishing with an old fashioned wind up gramophone.
Warwick Clancy explained that about 18 months ago the company decided that there was a developing market for marine entertainment products, so they started off by designing a new CD player.
‘…In the past we’ve always had a CD player and that’s been it. But technology is improving...it’s getting more cost effective not only in a home, but also in a boat or a car.’
‘These days people like to have what they have in their home in their boat.’
‘So we developed a new stylish yet practical waterproof housing and then we upgraded the CD player with multiple MP3 inputs including SD, USB and AUX, all accessible from the front.’
SD means secure digital; the SD card is a memory device about the size of a postage stamp.
‘With electronic music nowadays you can just stick it onto a USB stick, plug it into the CD player, and then it will play around the boat.’
This sounds a lot easier than rummaging around the hatches trying to find your favourite CD, only to find an empty CD case. Or that someone has stuffed a quit smoking CD in your favourite artist’s CD case.
‘We offer a couple of different options as well. One is a fully enclosed housing which allows more for full frontal weather. If you’ve got a tinny or something along those lines… The water doesn’t come in anywhere as it’s a completely waterproof case.’
‘We also designed a big heat sink out the back to extract all the heat out of it so it doesn’t get too hot. This is one of the big problems that a lot of those units have if the housing hasn’t been designed properly.’
‘We designed a flush mount unit as well. That goes more into the yachts and cruisers so there are two different sorts of designs for two different requirements.’
‘We’re actually doing a DVD player now as well which we’ll have at Sanctuary Cove. We believe that we have very good products in this area. The DVD player and the CD player are very similar to each other as functionality goes, with the USB and the housing and the SD cards and the conformably coated PCBs…’
A PCB is a printed circuit board which is used to mechanically support and electrically connect electronic components using conductive pathways. The coating on the PCB is another point of difference between a CD and a DVD player that you would use in your home, as opposed to one that was suitable for a marine environment.
GME will also launch a new digital set top box at Sanctuary Cove. Clancy says that the box is cost effective and with the dual tuners it is designed specifically for mobile use. So you should be able to get decent television reception while underway.
‘We like to be quality focused, price competitive, and also offer some extra features. The digital set top box has diversity tuners in it. It has two tuners which are designed for mobile reception. As you’re travelling, and the signal varies, it does a differential between the two antenna inputs and it sticks with the strongest signal coming in...’
‘That’s the main benefit of the GME unit over a single input unit which people may have in their home. The homes not moving so it’s not such a big problem.’
‘This unit that we’ve brought to market is approximately half the price of the existing competitors unit. But it also has the standard features. It runs on the 12 volt, it has conformably coated PCBs for salt water environment, so it doesn’t get corroded…’
While recognising the opportunities in the growing market for marine entertainment products, GME has continued to develop its existing range of safety and communication equipment. Clancy is keenly aware that the upcoming change from analogue to digital for EPIRB operation will impact on many marine users.
‘The most important thing is as we move forwards towards 2009 when the Cospas-Sarsat satellite system that monitors the 121.5 signal, won’t be monitoring that signal anymore. Boats are having to change over from the analogue to the digital system…GME was quite revolutionary in its design (for the new digital system). It was the first organisation in the world to come up with a new design for 406 MHz technology.’
‘In the past the beacons were selling for two and a half thousand dollars plus. This year we’ll see under 400 dollars for our beacons being sold at the show. While it’s still two and a bit times the price of an analogue unit it’s 1/5 the price of what it was.’
The digital 406 MHz beacons are reportedly more accurate, are detected more quickly and identify their owner (see beacons.amsa.gov.au for more details).
As well as the GME entertainment products and digital safety equipment, there will be new Garmin products on display at Sanctuary Cove. Sail-World spoke to Garmin’s Peter Langbart about the points of difference between his company’s chart plotters and other brands.
‘Number one is the new menu structure. Ease of use- it’s put in simple terms. If you look at most of the people who buy these plotters they’ve got a 17ft boat or something, and they just want to be able to switch on the plotter and work out where they’re going, how to sail a track…’
‘Previously you had to buy the map for your area. And your maps would normally cost you between two hundred and seven hundred dollars, depending on whether you want the whole of Australia or just a bit of Australia. Right now you’re getting about eight hundred dollars worth of maps in the unit free.’
‘You don’t have to load it. You don’t have to buy the little data card which you can lose. It’s all in the unit with tide data….’
Peter Langbart explained that some of the new chart plotters are compatible with Garmin’s new generation BlueChart g2 series marine cartography. The charts feature enhanced depictions of shorelines, roads and surface features.
‘Those are standard maps like you get on chart plotters. But they are now capable of displaying what we call our g2 vision charts.’
The g2 vision charts provide high resolution satellite images and aerial photographs to help with orientation in unfamiliar areas. There is a mariner’s or fish eye view which shows three dimensional imagery both above the waterline and below it.
‘It also has an auto routing ability. If you wanted to come into Sydney Harbour at night, for instance, it knows the channel, it knows where the red and the green markers are, and will actually plot you a safe course.’
Langbart says that the auto guidance technology creates a route that is easy to follow and which avoids obstacles, shallow water, buoys and other obstructions.
‘The range is so new that we’ve just received the first 20 of each one of the products, which we are furiously building into our stand to show at Sanctuary Cove.’
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