The screens on today’s marine electronics displays are sparkling bright, even in direct sunlight. That’s a superb advantage during the day, but a fully backlit screen can become a safety issue in the evening hours, impairing a captain’s night vision and ability to see the water and objects surrounding the boat.
To help boaters cope after dark, many displays include two features for toning down the glare: One is a brightness adjustment or dimmer; the other is known as night mode.
I use the brightness adjustment to fine-tune the screen to match the ambient light conditions. For example, when I leave in the pre-dawn hours on a fishing trip, I dim the screen to one of the lowest levels, but as the first gray light creeps in, I advance the brightness to the middle of the scale. Once the sun is up, I ramp up the brightness all the way, but I might scale down the backlighting a bit on overcast days.
If you turn the illumination to the lowest level and forget to turn it back up, you might not be able to see the display when daylight returns. The display will appear virtually black, and touchscreen functions become inaccessible. But there’s always an alternate way to adjust backlighting. With Lowrance, for example, a quick tap on the power button instantly brings up the brightness.
Night mode optimizes the color palette and backlighting for low-light conditions. With radar, for instance, night mode will change the background color from white to black to help preserve night vision and, at the same time, will dim the backlight to help minimize glare.