When looking for new electronics it is not always the most modern units that are required.
When thinking about what you need from your chartplotter, a new out-of-the-box but ‘end of line’ unit can sometimes offer everything you need for your set-up.
David Hoskin visits the electronic bargain basement to see what treasures he can find …
Normally with a boat show on the horizon, people are looking forward to the new electronics and wondering what is due to come. However, with new items always being released, I thought it would be a great time to look at what items are now being classed as ‘end of life’. These items are still on the shelf in chandleries and available from online stores, who will be looking to clear their stock at great prices. Some items are still very good value for money and have a lot to offer. Below I have marked my top three chartplotters that
Lowrance HDS Gen2 range
The HDS Gen2 range has been around since 2012 and has been a great offering from Lowrance. With screen sizes available in 5, 7, 8 and 10″, the range is suitable for all boating needs.
When looking at pricing, a 5″ HDS Gen2 unit is available for as little as £390, while a 7″ screen can be found with a quick search for under £550 and an 8″ for as little as £700.
So what advantages do these units still offer? Well, the first thing you notice is that the units are NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 compliant, opening you to the world of expansion. They are also radar compatible, so the broadband radar still offered by Lowrance can be added to the system. You can also add AIS to the unit through an external source. The HDS Gen2 range does have some drawbacks, though, the most obvious of which is the fact that the unit has no touch screen capability. Also the unit is compatible with the GoFree wireless unit, but you cannot control the unit as you can with the newer units.
Raymarine A6 – non-Wi-Fi
With Raymarine’s first offering in the newer A series chartplotters, they presented the 5.7″ A series in a more basic guise. These chartplotters had no Wi-Fi connectability. This means there is no ability to control the unit from an iPad or tablet. This is about the only downside to this unit over the now standard one. It still has all the performance of the other current A series units, including compatibility with all Raymarine additional networkable items. The A6 series is available in three versions: the A65, a map-only unit; the A67, with built-in fish finder; and the A68, which has built-in down scan imaging. There is a drawback to these smaller A series chartplotters in that there is no NMEA 0183 connection, so you are unable to connect to the older systems without investing in converters. If you are connecting to a newer system there are NMEA 2000 and Raynet connections, so it is business as usual.
When it comes to pricing, the non-Wi-Fi variants offer great value for money against the standard Wi-Fi variants. An A68 non-Wi-Fi can be purchased for about £500, while a Wi-Fi version has an RRP of £895. When fitting these on RIBs or as a second plotter on your vessel, you will not even notice the difference to the now standard Wi-Fi variant. The other difference for these units is that they are slightly larger than the standard instrument repeaters. At the price they are being offered at, the option of using them for data makes them a cost-effective instrument for any vessel.
Simrad NSS range
With Simrad now offering their Evo2 range of NSS models, the original series has fallen by the wayside. The original NSS series has 6.4″, 8″ and 12″ screens still available online and with several companies. These units have touch screens and all the compatibility you would expect from a chartplotter as standard, including a built-in GPS antenna, transducer port, and NMEA 2000 and NMEA 0183 as well as Ethernet connection for dual-unit connectability and radar. The unit has a slower processor and only single touch on the touch screens, and there is no built-in structure scan for the down/side scan imaging, although this is available in an add-on black box.
When looking at pricing, a traditional NSS 7 can be found for around £600, a saving of around £400 on the newer NSS Evo2, while the NSS 8 can be found at around £1000, which is around half the price of a newer NSS 9 Evo2.
When looking for new electronics it is not always the most modern units that are required. When thinking about what you need from your chartplotter, a new out-of-the-box but ‘end of line’ unit can sometimes offer everything you need for your set-up. More modern units can offer more functionality and upgraded compatibility, but if they offer functions you will never need, then you will be paying a premium for nothing.
David is an electrical, electronics and mechanically trained marine engineer with 16 years’ experience in the marine trade. He is currently employed by Promarine UK Ltd (www.promarineuk.com), based in Plymouth, who supply, install and upgrade electronics, outboard engines, marine generators and inboard diesel engines. If there are any technical questions or pricing issues you would like to ask David about, please feel free to email him on firstname.lastname@example.org, or telephone 01752 267984.