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Author Topic:   Time Interval Between Installing Multi-function Displays
MosslandingJoe posted 05-28-2013 12:54 PM ET (US)   Profile for MosslandingJoe   Send Email to MosslandingJoe  
Given the rapidly changing state of marine electronics, I'd like to hear from readers how often is reasonable--whatever that means is up to you--to swap out multi-function displays.

[The back story] At West Marine a few days ago I made the mistake of looking at new multi-function displays. Boy, are the new units cool! With greater integration of various devices such as stereo, Sirius radio, iPods, 3D imaging, and so forth, they certainly are eye candy. I lusted after a new toy for my 170 MONTAUK. Now bear in mind that when I bought my 170 in 2004 I spared no expense to outfit her, with first-class electronics. A Raymarine C-80 and interfacing VHF set me back about $3,000. And that set-up has never failed me. With WAAS and GPS I always know where I am, and the fish finder has filled many an ice chest. But, still, toys being what they are...

jimh posted 05-28-2013 02:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The time between new product releases in modern electronics is about three months in the mainstream markets and about one year in a specialized market like marine electronics. Any marine electronic device that is nine years old, like the ones you bought in 2004 for your boat, will seem a bit out of date in 2013. In your case, nine years of good use seems quite reasonable, and I don't think you can be faulted for wanting to update. You should go right ahead.
jimh posted 05-28-2013 02:13 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
A corollary to the problem of multi-function displays aging in terms of their features is the question of how long the manufacturers will support them with updates. In many instances new features can be added to legacy models by software, and an older unit kept current with software updates. But manufacturers tend to not invest in re-writing software for every old unit they made. The best feature of older units is their software is usually stable, and all of the bugs worked out.

Also, there is a trend for new features to require more processor horsepower, and many older units just do not have the hardware resources in memory space and computational power to accommodate new software. This also tends to discourage updates that add new features to old units.

In my own situation, I have a integrated chart plotter--Sonar that is just a few years old, but has already been made obsolete by new models. However, three years is too short for me to abandon it. Were it nine years old, I would be rationalizing a new purchase right now.

kwik_wurk posted 05-28-2013 03:43 PM ET (US)     Profile for kwik_wurk  Send Email to kwik_wurk     
Two summers ago I installed a new multifunction 12" head unit and new digital radar (or so called digital radar) on one of my boats. (Rotating several existing electronic parts and pieces around to other boats or Craigslist.)

Looking at it now, there are newer products on the store shelves, and the one I installed still be sold as older model. I will be happy using it for 6 more years, or at least force myself to be happy with the money spent!

Similar to jimh, installed is a networked system of 2 multifunction head units, 1 Radar, 2 GPS recievers, 1 XM sat receiver, NEMA 0182 and 2000 devices (engines/depth...). AIS/VHF is the next thing on the list (maybe autopilot after that). - The oldest multifunction device was new in 2004 and does look dated, but works just fine.

The nice thing about networked devices, is the software for each component (especially multifunction displays) has to be updated to keep the devices in the network compatible and working harmoniously. -- This is a byproduct of networked systems, where the weakest link (aka the oldest device), needs to be maintained (as in software/firmware updates).

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