Today, wireless technology is becoming a standard feature on an increasing number of marine electronics devices. These Bluetooth and Wi-Fi systems enable new freedoms on the water, allowing you to enjoy the benefits of having a portable remote control unit just about anywhere you move about your boat.
Manufacturers are capitalizing on wireless technology in imaginative new ways. Wireless operation is being adapted to almost every area of onboard electronics, including navigation, instrumentation, communications and entertainment. Yet, it is with multifunction displays (MFDs) that wireless is having its most significant impact.
Freedom to Roam
For example, Raymarine (raymarine.com) has embedded Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology into its e- and c-series MFDs. This allows viewing and controlling of a navigation display and virtually every sensor and device connected to it, including GPS, chart plotter, radar, fish finder, engine instrumentation, video cameras, AIS and more, right on a smartphone or tablet. This usually involves downloading the appropriate mobile app to activate the remote feature. The Raymarine Viewer is a free app that replicates the MFD screen on a tablet. Two other apps offer complete operational control of a display from your tablet (RayControl) and your smartphone (RayRemote). These apps are priced at $50 each.
The Navico (navico.com) brands — B&G, Lowrance and Simrad — provide wireless connection and operation with the addition of Navico’s GoFree WiFi-1 module ($229). This can be easily connected to any Simrad NSO, NSE or NSS; Lowrance HDS Gen2 and Gen2 Touch; or B&G Zeus displays.
The NavNet TZtouch MFD from Furuno (furunousa.com) operates much like your iPhone or iPad. Download the TZtouch Remote app for free and you can turn your iPad or iPhone into a miniature wireless navigation station that you can take and use throughout the boat.
Garmin (garmin.com) offers the RF wireless remote ($79), which duplicates many of the controls on its 4000/5000/7000 series GPS/chart plotters. The RF wireless mouse (also $79) adds to the ease of operation of the 5000/6000 series of MFDs. The Garmin VHF 200 and VHF 300 radios also can be operated wirelessly with the GHS 20 ($399) walkabout palm-size remote.
Wi-Fi and Internet at Your Fingertips
Standard Horizon (standardhorizon.com) provides multi-media access and connects you with the Internet with its CPN700i ($1,299.99)and CPN1010i ($1,999.99) models. A USB port connects with a wireless or hard-wired keyboard and mouse to let you access email or surf the Internet via Wi-Fi while aboard your boat.
Garmin’s Wi-Fi adapter ($199) creates a wireless gateway connection for Garmin Marine Network products as well as for most mobile Apple devices you carry on board.
Getting up to adjust the volume or change a music selection when comfortably relaxing can be annoying. The MS-IP700 ($449.99) multimedia entertainment center from Fusion (fusionelectronics.com) with the BT100 or BT200 plug-in Bluetooth adapters ($50 and $80, respectively) lets you see music titles, change tracks, play, skip and stop music and other common media control functions right on your smartphone, tablet or other personal digital device. You can also control the tunes at the helm on select MFDs from Furuno, Raymarine and Simrad that have compatible Fusion software.