After a week of playing with the new Chart Master 169CS from Interphase Technologies, I was impressed. The 12-channel WAAS GPS/chartplotter was precise enough that I used it to lay off grids for a sea grass restoration project in the upper Chesapeake Bay. Even better, the color LCD screen was viewable in the unrelenting sunlight, with and without polarized sunglasses, from anywhere around the open-console helm.
The 169CS has a 6.1"-wide screen (234-by-480 pixels) with plenty of space to put a data box on the right side of the screen so you can keep track of course, speed, and position without squeezing all the chart, port, and tide detail from the C-Map NT plus cartography. The 200MHz processor is powerful enough for near-instantaneous (about one second) redraws.
Interphase provides a 110-page manual and a quick reference card, but the 169CS's operating system is intuitive. It's easy to access waypoints to build routes, and soft keys make editing a snap. With 16MB of built-in memory, you can store 500 waypoints and 25 routes.
If you want to integrate the 169CS into your current navigation system, the unit meets NMEA 0183 specifications and has an NMEA autopilot interface. Anglers: Expect Interphase to offer a black box sounder for the 169CS in early 2004. Price: $1,199.
Contact Interphase Technologies at 831/477-4944, www.interphase-tech.com.