Here’s the latest from Navionics: They’ve embedded the TurboView charting engine in the new Simrad NSE, Lowrance HDS and Raymarine E-Wide units. What’s TurboView? Essentially, it’s seamless 3-D chartography which allows you to pan, tilt, pitch, and zoom while “flying” over the ocean floor. This isn’t an entirely new sensation. We’ve experienced it with chartography programs run on PC’s for several years now, and Northstar’s 962, the first unit I can recall with this sort of 3-D flight-like graphics, has been around nearly as long. But this is still worthy of note because a) some of these units are a lot more affordable then the 962 and b) built-in high-performance chartography is becoming the norm, whereas it used to be the exception.

Why should you care? Several reasons. First off, it makes life easier. Now you don’t have to go out and buy a chip, put it in the machine, and change it later if you’re heading for different waters. And secondly, it makes life safer. You used to have to worry about pulling the chip at the wrong time and blanking out the data (don’t tell me you never did that by accident… I couldn’t have been the only one.) Nor do you have to worry about water intrusion in the card slot, or about losing the card. The bottom line? Built-in chartography is an awesome perk.

Wait a sec – aren’t you saving money, too? After all, now you don’t have to buy the chip anymore, right? Nah. They build the cost of chartography right into the chartplotter’s sticker price. Still, there’ s plenty to enjoy about this. So leave the chips in the cabinet, and make sure your next plotter has its flavor built right in.