Raymarine sent me an A50D chartplotter/fishfinder combo unit to test, for an upcoming article I’m doing for Madmariner.com. (It’s going to be super-cool, but that’s all I can tell you about it right now – stay tuned.) The Raymarine is one among five and I’ll cover some of the others later, but since this is a relatively new unit with lots to talk about, I figured you’d want to hear about it first. In light of the recent federal regulations, here’s a little full disclosure for you: did I get paid or receive free gear in exchange for writing this review? HAHAHAHA – no. Heck, half the people that actually owe me money aren’t paying these days, so why would anyone else send me a check??? But I digress…

The A50D is a 5″ diagonal combo unit with an integrated antenna, a 640 x 480 pixel VGA screen, an IPX6 waterproof rating (that means water shot from all directions for three minutes won’t penetrate it) and a 50/200 kHz transom-mount transducer. It goes for about a grand but costs slightly more if you buy it with pre-loaded charts. When I fired up the A50D I found it a bit confusing to sort through the buttons and get to the functions I wanted -  it has five soft keys along the bottom of the screen plus an assortment on the right hand side of the unit – but I was also enthralled by the screen quality. Most 5″ screens don’t have nearly this much definition (check the specs and you’ll find that they average 320 x 240) nor are they as bright. Another high point is the mount, which has a flip-down arm that secures the unit in place and makes for easy installation and removal. Clunky old thumb screws, be gone!

So, is this unit worth the price tag? Along with the points mentioned above, consider that it’s priced on the slightly higher end (Garmin’s 545S is nearly identical in price, but Lowrance’s HDS-5, Interphase’s Chartmaster iPro, and Standard-Horizon’s CPF180i go for $150 – $300 less); but it also delivers a leg up in quality and is a well-respected name brand that will add value to your boat. Guys who are in need of this type of unit and are accustomed to using Raymarine products will most likely go for it, particularly if they want to interface with other Raymarine gear already on their boat. The rest of us will have to see just how wow-ed our eyes are, when we lay ‘em on this: