WIDER ISN'T ALWAYS BETTER. The most telltale specification for a radar may be its horizontal beam width. This measures the width of the radar beam as it leaves or is transmitted to the antenna. The narrower the beam, the more concentrated the transmitted radar signal and the more detailed the resulting reflected radar echo.
PICTURE THIS. A large screen makes radar target recognition and interpretation easier. But at the same time, available dash or helm space dictates what size radar display your boat can accommodate. Of more significance is the type of display you choose. A CRT (cathode ray tube) is the same glass picture tube used in most TVs and computers. CRTs present a sharp, detailed picture, but they have a long neck that necessitates a deeper housing. LCDs are gaining in viewability every year. They have a flat face and a more slender depth, making them ideal for confined instrument locations. They also have the comparative price advantage. Traditionally, if you plan on using radar where direct sunlight will fall on the screen, monochrome LCDs prove more viewable. But several new units, including Raytheon's RL70C+ series color LCDs, counter this negative characteristic and perform surprisingly well in direct sunlight.
COLOR ME BEAUTIFUL. Color is nowhere near as important to a radar as it is to a fishfinder - and it costs more. Yet color does make viewing easier and is the wave of the future. Whether it's worth it is up to you.