Simrad Insight HD charts, & 2.0 firmware

The Simrad NSE12 prototype is back in the lab, and will soon be back on Gizmo at the heart of an extensive SimNet/Ethernet test system. Only now it's running recently released 2.0 firmware and it's loaded with the HD version of Navico's Insight char...

17th June 2010.
By Ben Ellison

Simrad_NSE2_Insight_HD_chart_1_cPanbo.JPG

The Simrad NSE12 prototype is back in the lab, and will soon be back on Gizmo at the heart of an extensive SimNet/Ethernet test system. Only now it’s running recently released 2.0 firmware and it’s loaded with the HD version of Navico’s Insight charts that was missing in prototype mode. I was particularly interested in checking out the latter as I’m working on a charting piece for Cruising World, and I like what I’ve seen so far…

For starters, with Insight HD you can zoom the 2D relief mode all the way in without losing the bathy/topo shading I find quite useful to an easy understanding of what’s what.  There’s also some data I’ve rarely or never seen on other electronic charts, especially the pre-loaded variety.  That “Note” icon, for instance, leads (with one button press) to the complete description of that Special Anchorage.  And that fish icon near the harbor entrance leads to specific local information (below) on a subject I know just enough about to feel confident that it was well sourced (and excited that the similar icons I’m finding around the coast might just help me hook some cruising dinners). Nice.

Simrad_NSE2_Insight_HD_chart_2_cPanbo.JPGNow I rarely see an electronic chart presentation I don’t want to tweak a bit, and at first I was annoyed to see those long “Anchorage Area 33:CFR…etc.” labels seen on the smaller chart window at top, especially as they don’t click to any further info and in fact one obscures the note icon that does.  But I was pleased to discover how detailed the presentation control is when I went to Chart Categories, and extra pleased that the changes only applied to the chart window selected.  Thus I’ve turned off Nautical Chart/Names on the larger relief chart view while keeping them on the regular 2D chart, in case Names are important somewhere else.
   There are also easy high/medium/low detail settings for less detail-oriented users, but the latter sure will be impressed with how many categories are switchable.  In the collage below the inset shows the main categories, with Nautical Chart dimmed to indicate that not all subcategories are enabled.  I opened all those main categories just so that scroll indicator (green arrow) shows how few of the total subcategories are shown on the list at left. A tweaker’s dream, and very easy to manage with the NSE’s knob.  At any rate, Insight HD looks good so far, and it seems like Navico is expending some resources on improving them even though the NSE and Lowrance HDS series also do a good job of displaying optional Navionics chart cards, including 3D.

Simrad_NSE2_Insight_HD_chart_3_cPanbo.JPGOne last note on the opening screen shot:  Notice how Navico has copied the mistaken upper anchorage boundary NOAA drew on its ENCs, discussed and illustrated in this entry. No blame there, as I’m pretty sure all the chart makers copied it (and at least Insight shows it clearly).  But that’s why the detailed note might help someone — the correct lines define the sometimes hard to find channel — and another example of how chart perfection is hard to find.


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Ben Ellison

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Ben Ellison is electronics editor for Bonnier Marine Group, specifically Yachting and Cruising World. He previously was electronics editor for Power & Motoryacht and SAIL, as well as a writer for Ocean Navigator. His blog posts appear courtesy of his website www.Panbo.com, which has 80,000 monthly readers worldwide.
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