When you pick out a fishfinder, chartplotter, or MFD, you want to get the best LCD screen you can. Some look great in the sun and the shade, but others fade out when viewed from an angle, scratch easily, or are just plain dim. How can you tell what’s what? Keep these five tips in mind.
1. Get the most pixels possible. More pixels equals better resolution. When you zoom in on screens with a low pixel count, details become blocky and “pixellated."
2. Glass beats plastic. Bonded-glass screens tend to last longer and provide a crisper view. Plastic LCD, on the other hand, can become scratched up after a few seasons of use.
3. Watch for wash-out. Some inexpensive displays “wash out” and become hard to see in direct sunlight. You can test this in the store with a powerful handheld light. Just shine it on the display and see how it affects the view.
4. Watch for angled views. The ability to view from an angle ranges from nearly 180 degrees to a blank screen whenever you move slightly off-center. Luckily, again, you can test this one out in the store. Simply move off to the sides, and take note of when the screen blanks out. Be sure to wear your sunglasses as you do this test, because wearing polarized sunglasses can affect screen viewability.
5. Size matters. Especially when it comes to MFDs, where you’ll likely split the screen between two or more functions, bigger is always better… and more expensive, of course. As a rule of thumb, remember that a 7” diagonal screen is really the minimum that can be split, and still be used for multiple functions. A 9” screen is a lot better. If you plan to split between three different views (say, chartplotter, fishfinder, and radar) on a single unit, a 12” model is in order.