Guidelines to Selecting the Right Marine Navigation Electronics for Your Needs
Selecting the right marine electronics for your specific navigational needs can be simple if you follow some basics guidelines. These guidelines are designed to help you focus on the more important aspects of your marine navigation needs. They will help you decide on both the practical ‘I need’ requirements and the emotional ‘I want’ aspects. These guides will not tell you what to buy, but they will tell you what to look for prior to buying.
The site covers products from the following manufacturers, and more are added each week, B&G, Cobra, Comar, Eagle, Furuno, Garmin, Humminbird, ICOM, Intellian, Lowrance, McMurdo, Precision Navigation, Raymarine, Tacktick, Simrad and Standard
Tip 1 – Only pay for functionality you really need
All too often we get carried away and buy the more complex, more expensive and more difficult-to-use products even though we know we won’t use a fraction of the functionality. It’s a well-known fact that first time buyer, of any product, looks for every imaginable feature. We all do it. It’s a way of making sure we have everything because we don’t know what we actually need. Second-time or experienced users look more closely at the really important features.
For instance, an experienced chartplotter user looks for key features and how they work. They focus on the key features such as, how easy it is to enter a waypoint, how clear the cartography is for their region of boating, and so on. See more under product guidelines.
Tip 2 – Buy the right products for your type of boating
This may seem obvious but it’s an important starting point in your selection of electronics navigation equipment. For instance, if you’re boating is confined to shallow water, don’t be tempted by a sounder with 2000 ft. max depth. If you’re a coastal hopper and never more than 5 miles of the coast, think carefully about the number of times you might need a large open array radar. The same applies to blue water cruisers: don’t buy an autopilot that just about does the job; always buy the next size up.
It’s all about the right tool for the right job. Each product guide will help you identify the most suitable group of products for your application.
Tip 3 - Check out your local dock and research other boaters’ equipment selection
Even if you don’t already own a boat, walk the dock and have a chat with other owners. Look for boaters with similar size boats and who do the same activities as you. Ask them what they use and what the most useful aspects of their navigation equipment are. Ask them what makes their boating more fun, safer or exciting. By doing this you can get a short list of products or features you should learn about in more detail.
Tip 4- Keep it simple
Ask any boater and they will tell you that marine electronics, in general, are too complex to use. The text is too small, the buttons are confusing, you can’t find the things you really need and interfacing and sharing data can be a nightmare. Although things are improving with standards coming closer together, the marine electronics industry does not have a particularly well-controlled or monitored interface standard. The standards that do exist only apply to the low end basic ‘slow’ data and not video/graphics ‘fast’ data.
So keeping a system installation simple, such as a single manufacturer and professionally installed wiring are key aspect to ensure a successful installation that will improve your enjoyment and the usefulness of your electronics. In the individual product guides we try to explain where mixing products are low risk.