Last February Furuno made a lot of promises about improved charting in NavNet3D and MaxSea TimeZero, and it seems to be making good on all of them.  At least the North American MapMedia versions of "C-Map by Jeppesen" vector charts (explained here) are now available, as are the NN3D 2.05 and MSTZ 1.9 software upgrades that can display them.  Those upgrades purportedly do a lot more than make TimeZero the only charting software that can support both Navionics and C-Map cartography (given that Geonav's "DualFuel" won't be available here until Fall, and the fate of Raymarine's similarly ambitious dual cartography plan is apparently uncertain.)  But before mentioning those other improvements, I have some good examples of why you might want to have both Navionics and C-Map at your helm.  First, click on that image above showing Jeppesen C-Map coverage of the Exuma Islands in the Bahamas...

Then look at the same area as covered with Navionics core data:

MSTZ_Navionics_Bahamas_1.JPGThe difference in details is pretty stunning, but it would be wrong to conclude that C-Map has the best Bahamas data.  I took these shots at the Miami Show using a beta of MSTZ and, as the icons indicate, it was dead easy to switch chart types.  (The beta could also show Navionics and C-Map windows side by side, but I understand that the feature is not available in the finished update because one or both of the data providers doesn't permit it.)  And I think chart type switching on the NN3D MFDs will be just as easy, using the RotoKey.  At any rate, it wasn't hard to find an area of the Bahamas where you might very well prefer Navionics charts...

MSTZ_Navionics_Bahamas_2.JPGJeppesen C-Map doesn't seem to have the same level of detail for Nassau Harbor, though if Google is accurate, they did get the name of "Arawak Cay" (and maybe the location of Fort Fincastle) right:

MSTZ_Jeppesen_C-Map_Bahamas_2.JPGNow there's no question that the Bahamas is a special case chart-wise, because there is no decent official H.O. data, so it will be interesting to see if there are appreciable differences between, say, the Navionics and C-Map MapMedia charts now available for Canada.  It won't be fair to compare screenshots made with anything less than the latest software upgrades, though, as according to the press release (and demos I saw in Miami) the look of all TimeZero vector charts, including the free NOAA ENCs, has been improved.  Spot soundings are in whole numbers (man, I wish the fractional distraction would disappear from all electronic charts) and outlined for better readability -- and colored red in danger areas if you want; "various objects have been redesigned to reduce screen clutter"; and much else.
   My task now is to update the test MFD12 and MSTZ I'm reinstalling on Gizmo, plus load the ENC and 3D data updates that are also part of Furuno's spring bonanza.  I'm even going to watch the Furuno training videos, and I'll report back.  In the meantime, let's please hear from other TimeZero users about the update process and the results.

Written by: Ben Ellison
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, which has 80,000 monthly readers worldwide.