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ContinuousWave: Small Boat Electrical
NMEA-2000 Instrument Color Displays
|Author||Topic: NMEA-2000 Instrument Color Displays|
posted 11-04-2012 09:45 AM ET (US)
For quite a while the market for a NMEA-2000 color instrument display has been the exclusive realm of the GARMIN GMI-10. The GMI-10 is a versatile color display that connects to a NMEA-2000 network. It can be configured to display many different data parameters available on the typical boat NMEA-2000 network. I had actually never seen a GMI-10 in person until just recently. The color display is quite nice. The on-screen graphics are very nicely designed. The display looked quite bright. The user interface is provided by a set of several front-panel buttons, and in a few minutes of using the GMI-10 the layout of menus and options seemed reasonably clear. The cost of the GMI-10 is typically in the range of $450 to $500. I was impressed with the GMI-10 overall, but I thought the display was actually a bit small.
In comparison, for about the same cost you could buy a decent 5-inch color chart plotter, GPS receiver, SONAR, and chart cartography. A Lowrance HDS-5 can be purchased for about the same cost as a GMI-10. In an HDS-5 you'd get a larger display, plus a GPS receiver, a chart plotter, a lot of digital chart cartography, a SONAR, a transducer, and mounting hardware. There would be a lot more stuff in the HDS-5 box than in the GMI-10 box. The drawback to the HDS-5 as an instrument display is its overall size. It is too big to mount on an instrument panel. The GMI-10 fits in the same area as a traditional 3.5-inch round gauge. Curiously, you can even buy a Garmin-brand chart plotter for less than the GMI-10. The GPSMap421 has a larger display, a GPS receiver, and a chart plotter, and it has an MSRP of only $400. The GMI-10 has an MSRP of $500, or $100 more.
Raymarine recently entered the NMEA-2000 instrument color display market with their new i7 device. The i7 is similar to the GMI-10, but it has a larger screen area. Raymarine says it is 30-percent larger than competitors. The i7 can show the usual NMEA-2000 data, and it also can display AIS targets. But it uses the silly SeaTalkNG connectors, making it a hassle to connect to a standard Micro-C backbone, requiring a SeaTalk to DeviceNET adaptor cable which will add to the cost. The i7 is selling on the web for $535. The sun cover is extra, another $15. And the adaptor cable is $30. This brings the total for an i7 to $580. Yikes--that is pricey.
I have not seen a Raymarine i7 in person, but it looks rather cool in the promotional images. Other than the price, it seems like an ideal solution for instrumentation on a small boat. But at $580 I am not tempted at all. At that price point I'd rather buy a small chart plotter. I guess the attraction of these displays are there small footprint on a dashboard or instrument panel, but you really pay for the smaller size.
posted 11-04-2012 10:34 PM ET (US)
I wonder if or when Lowrance will upgrade their LMF Guages to color and if they do can they retain the same pricing?
posted 11-05-2012 07:26 AM ET (US)
The Lowrance LMF series of monochrome instrument displays have been on the market a long time without any change or upgrade, and, when you compare the display quality to the GMI-10 or the i7, there is a very significant gap. Speculation about Lowrance offering a NMEA-2000 display device that is improved from the LMF series seems quite appropriate.
posted 12-30-2012 09:13 AM ET (US)
MARETRON have introduced a small color instrument display for NMEA-2000 networks, their model DSM 150. The DSM 150 is a 3.5-inch color display that can be configured to show a wide range of NMEA-2000 data using many different presentations, including simulated dial pointer gauges, digital displays, tabular displays, and even Cartesian coordinate plots. More information is given in
The MARETRON DSM150 has an MSRP of $495 and appears to be already discounted by resellers to about $400 to $425.
posted 01-11-2013 05:29 PM ET (US)
Panbo has picked up on the MARETRON DSM150. See
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