You may remember from Marine Electronics 101: How to Use Radar that Navico's Broadband radar technology (available on Simrad, Lowrance, and B&G models) is very different from traditional pulse radar. You may also remember that its greatest strength—vastly improved sensitivity and target discrimination—is limited to relatively short ranges. In fact, it can't reach out beyond 36 nautical miles, and it's in the closest ranges (a fraction of a mile out to a handful of miles) that Broadband really shines when compared to traditional units. When it comes to long-range vision, pulse technology still kicks butt.

halo radar

The new HALO radar, from Simrad.

As a result, serious mariners with serious budgets often ran with both Broadband and a pulse open-array. On the open ocean the pulse unit did all the work, and in close quarters or near shore, the captain switched over to Broadband. Now Navico has found a way to combine the technologies into a single, open-array unit: the Simrad HALO radar.

HALO has a maximum range clear out to 72 nautical miles. Inshore, broadband technology takes over. You don't have to do a thing; in Dual Range mode you can monitor two distance ranges with independent display controls simultaneously, while tracking up to 20 MARPA targets.

When I tested a pre-production HALO prototype, aside from the unit's combined far- and close-range adaptability, there were a couple of unexpected features that really stood out. Warm-up time was a shocker; while most traditional units take two or three minutes to get going, after I pressed the button the HALO needed just 15 or 20 seconds. I was also impressed with how quiet the open-array was. Credit goes to a helical gear-train and a brushless motor. And although I had no way to test the claim without risking a baked brain (like it would make any difference), Simrad says the HALO is a low-emission unit, which is radiation-safe to people up to the swing-circle of the antenna.

Check out our First Look Video of the Halo in action, and you can see first-hand how this radar performs.

During the test, I found just one miniscule thing to beef about with this unit. Navico integrated blue LEDs into the radar's base, which serves no useful purpose other than to make the unit look cool. Could a blue light up high on the mast cause potential confusion, when mixed among the red, green, and white nav lights? I don't know, but IMHO there's really no justifiable reason for lighting up a radar antenna. Then again, I guess you can always just turn the light off.

HALO comes in three-foot ($4,500), four-foot ($5,000), and six-foot ($5,500) open array sizes, and it interfaces with any Simrad NSS evo2 or NSO evo2 MFD. To learn more, visit Simrad.