Fisheries management is a contentious issue, but we saw a new way to make it better via the Thorium X, built by CLS America and Xplore Technologies. On a recent trip to Crystal River Florida we had the chance to fish with 2 Shea Charters,which has some of the first Thorium X units on the water as part of a pilot program. Here’s a quick look at the Thorium X, what it does, and why we boaters should care.
The ability to accurately track catch counts could obviously be a boon to fisheries managers, who often readily admit they are making decisions while starved for accurate data on fish populations. But for this purpose alone, the cost of a ruggedized tablet may well exceed the benefit for some boats. Fortunately, tracking fish counts isn’t its only use. In fact, it’s just one benefit of what this little unit can do.
The Thorium X is a full-blown go-anywhere communications device which can be sued for fleet management and tracking. Users can send and receive text messages, send and receive forms or reports, and perform data compilation and transmission. By utilizing Short Burst Data (SBD) modem with the Iridium satellite constellation data transmissions (and costs associated with them) are kept to a minimum. In fact, Xplore says that communications will “most likely occur at a lower cost than most cellular data plans”. And when the boat’s at the marina the unit can do it’s talking via WiFi.
We found the 10.1” LCD touch screen (which is waterproof to IP-65 standards) viewable in bright sunlight, though it did blank out when viewed from extreme angles with polarized sunglasses. We note that while this has always been true of most LCDs, in the last year several electronics manufacturers have overcome the issue. (See our Raymarine Axiom and Simrad NSS evo3 with IPS Screen Technology videos, for visual proof). Still, this is a small beef for a unit like this, and ruggedizing a tablet to the point that it can be mounted at the open helm station of a center console most certainly limits screen options.
One other thing we noticed about the Thorium X that didn’t necessarily come across in the video was that it’s fast, thanks to an Intel Atom E3845 quad-core 1.91 GHz processor. Between finger swipes and screen changes, there was a lag-time of zero. Some other highlights: the Thorium software includes weather reports, the frame is a magnesium alloy, the unit has Bluetooth connectivity, and Broadband 4G LTE is optional.
For more information, visit CLS America.
Want to see some of the fishing action encountered while on the water with 2 Shea? Check out what happened when a Yo-Zuri 3D Pencil was tossed in front of an unusual species, or see some red-hot fishing action for cobia, grouper, snapper and more.