There’ll come a day when the only display a boater will need is the one on his tablet or iPad. He’ll bring it aboard, place it in a special mount and use the touch-screen to navigate, find fish and control onboard systems, as well as communicate via voice and text. Even today, companies such as Argonaut make special widescreen, sunlight-viewable mobile devices to serve as monitors for boaters. Yet one of the big knocks is that such mobile devices don’t have enough processing power to run marine radar.
Now Furuno (furunousa.com) has shown that it’s possible to display and even control marine radar on a mobile device. The new DRS4W 1st Watch Wireless Radar combines a compact 12½-pound 4 kW radome with an iPad or iPhone. It uses a free app to display radar returns on up to two devices at once. A small antenna on the bottom of the dome transmits the wireless radar signal to the mobile device. A simple Apple interface lets you change range from 0.125 to 24 nautical miles. With the iPad, you can also determine target bearing and distance. You need to wire 12-volt power to the dome, which draws less than 2 amps, but gone is the large, bulky cable between the radome and display. I had a chance to use it along the Intracoastal near Sanibel, Florida, and found the system to perform flawlessly.
At $1,695 retail, the DRS4W 1st Watch Wireless Radar is a fairly inexpensive way to add this invaluable navigational tool to any boat. It is certainly a significant evolutionary step toward the day when mobile devices become the primary displays aboard our boats.