Charting a New Course
Simrad launches the NSX multifunction display.
Shopping for a new fishfinder and chartplotter can be an overwhelming process with so many products, screen sizes, and features on the market.
Simrad Yachting engineers wanted to simplify the process when they developed its new NSX, which made its debut at the Miami International Boat Show in February. The multifunction display is not only powerful and affordable, but as easy to set up and use as a smartphone.
“Folks have always told us, ‘Just make it work like my phone,’” says Stephen Thomas, Simrad’s product director. “It’s no surprise the phone is a pretty ubiquitous piece of electronics. The more we can make it feel like it operates like a phone, I think it makes it easier and more familiar for folks to get up to speed quickly on it.”
The NSX is aimed at the family fishing, water sports, and weekend cruiser market, where space on the dash is at a premium. Available in 7-, 9-, and 12-inch touchscreen sizes, the NSX is ideal for powerboats up to 50 feet.
Engineers designed the Android-based operating system basically from scratch with the goal of simplifying the user experience. Users no longer go through multiple screens to find an application or change a setting; instead, the information is available with one or two touches of the screen.
“You won’t get lost in text menus or three-deep menu trees and have to read a manual to figure out where to find something,” says Thomas.
The ease of use carries into the NSX’s Setup Wizard, where a boater with minimal tech skills can set up engine and fuel tank readings, calibrate the radar control, or control the stereo. Users can customize screens with a simple drag-and-drop system.
The NSX flexes its tech muscle when it comes to charting and is loaded with C-MAP navigation. Thanks to a bright display and crisp graphics, the high-resolution bathymetry can show contour line details down to one foot with compatible charts. Anglers can utilize the NSX with SideScan/DownScan imaging, Active imaging, CHIRP sonar, and FishReveal.
Boaters should be able to use their existing radar and transducers with the NSX, as Simrad built in greater integration and support for third-party applications. The NSX supports Halo open and dome radars, but that isn’t the target market for the multifunction display.
“I don’t think it’s going to require a whole retrofit, it just kind of depends on the age of your equipment,” says Mike Fargo, Simrad’s executive vice president. “I like the disclaimer that says if you’ve recently updated electronics, for the most part, it will be compatible.”
The NSX, which starts at $1,049, comes with built-in GPS and Wi-Fi. Software updates and data transfers can be done using the Wi-Fi or through the Simrad app when connected
to the Internet. Fargo says charts look the same whether they are viewed on the app or NSX, which hasn’t always been the case.
“They use the same terminology, it’s the exact same sequence, so it’s already familiar,” he says. “You learn it in one place and then when you get on the boat, it’s very easy to remember how to do it on the MFD.”
With an Android-based operating system and an extensive integration of third-party apps, Simrad is in a position to move to a subscription-based model where the company’s basic app is free, while the paid version unlocks additional features.
It’s not hard to see a future where boaters pay a subscription fee, but the Norway-based company has no current plans to do that, Thomas says.
“I don’t see us going to an Office 365 pay for basic functionality, but I do see us maybe in the future adding optional, opt-in type, value-added services across the network,” he says. “(For the NSX) it’s all included in the price. You get everything you need to operate the chart model and basic navigation systems. It’s all there.” simrad-yachting.com
-by Gregg Mansfield