Best new tech 2008, boat goodies?


Just like last year,’s excellent Best of What’s New 2008 edit package is rich with tech that might one day trickle up to yachting. For instance, couldn’t a version of the Lexus super wide-angle integrated cameras seen above be useful in docking? How about a satellite able to deliver 1.2 gigabit/second Internet to modest terrestrial antennas, and even modulate signal strength based on its own weather analysis? In the always exciting megayacht toy department are a trio of flying things: the world’s first production jetpack, an easy-to-fly folding-wing float plane, and an amazing RC helicopter. And isn’t Honda’s first-ever hydrogen production car a hopeful milestone? There’s more to be sure…

Even developments devoid of electrons, like a light, waterproof fabric that’s 80% translucent but can survive “two-by-fours shot at 34 mph from an air cannon” (or possibly a hurricane). And a vertical wind generator vane design that might save a few sailor ears. But while is energized, PC World’s 25 Most Innovative Products has gone missing, CNET’s Best & Worse tech of 2008 is bit lame, and has apparently dropped its fab Top Ten Gadgets for the Filthy Rich list in favor of a Top Ten Bush Shoe-throwing Games. Sign of the times?
   Well, there was no lack of holiday gadget gift guides, and I dare guess that most are still in stock. Or you can avoid gadget lust, and just pursue a great best of 2008 boating stories list, like MadMariner’s. And if you’re tempted to drop $16.50 on a subscription, consider this: supporting MadMariner is supporting Panbo. Gizmo-wise, though,
 CES is just around the corner, with 2009 Innovations Honorees already posted. I’m pleased to see that HP’s TouchSmart computers have gotten even more compact, powerful, and boat interesting (I think, though my enthusiasm wasn’t much shared the first time around). See anything else good?


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

8 Responses

  1. Kees says:

    On my (future) installation those HP systems don’t make sense; a sailboat’s doghouse is drier than the cockpit, but will still get its fair share of water dripping off wet jackets etc. and these HP systems are chockful of grilles to get the heat out. Since it’s the computer, I’m also limited to where I can put it since it has so many cables sticking out. In that sense the older TouchSmart computers were better for my particular application.
    I do like the touchscreen — even if you don’t use it all the time it gives an extra input option. I’ve used the Panasonic Wireless Mobile Display a lot, and using your nail works fine and gives near-stylus precision.
    As to Imacs, be careful with the current generation as they are quite difficult to open up, so replacing the harddrive is a major undertaking (requires removal of the LCD screen!)
    For our new boat we’re currently researching our options, and first and foremost is power usage. In practice it turns out that the computer is “on” for many hours, and this is painful on a sailboat. The screen can be shut off for most of the time, but there are dramatic differences in power envelope.
    At the moment I’m leaning towards getting two screens: a larger non-touchscreen display and a small touchscreen. For planning and situations where we want a ‘big chart’ we”ll fire up the big screen (1280×1024, 1680×1050 or even 1920×1200.) For more frequent use ‘on the go’ we’d use a Xenarc 705TSV which is a small 800×480 screen that uses 5W (and has a touchscreen). Both will be mounted such that the chance of water ingress is low. Or we may just go for the Planar LX series, but that’s so expensive we’d only get one and they are only 1024×768.
    At the moment Lenovo has the most frugal “normal” displays. For instance the Lenovo L1700P 17″ 4×3 display with 1280×1024 that is specced to use 16W with a max of 21W. They also have the L2440X, which is 1900×1200, 24″ and uses 29W. This is more, but still a heck of a lot less than most 24″ displays which tend to use up to 100W!

  2. Looutout Sailors says:

    The HP TS Computers are attractive. I looked at them earlier. My issue can be summed up in one word – Visa. I just don’t want to fool with MS Vista.

  3. The HP TouchSmart devices make a lot of sense for me for a saloon TV replacement. When not being a TV it can display all sorts of interesting data either from the web or from “local” sensors. At 180 watts power usage is a bit more than I want to tolerate.
    From the automotive world, personally, I’m hoping for Bayliner and SeaRay to add automatic docking.

  4. Dan (b393capt) says:

    HP TouchSmart … I just bought one for my daughter and installed it yesterday.
    She thought it was cool .. and changed her xmas list to have this rather than a Mac (Yea ! I am sure the Mac’s are good, but I don’t have time to learn a 2nd set of applications to control computer time, perform backups, prevent virus’s, etc.)
    I just cannot picture this in a boat … maybe because I am thinking such a product, to get the most out of it, would need to swing on an arm to be used between navigation and entertainment … and
    1) It’s just way to heavy for that.
    2) I can see the corners of this being smashed if it wasn’t secured well.
    3) There is no apparent mounting method … this is designed to sit on a (level) desk.
    4) As mentioned above, the grill below the screen would pick up any water dripping down the screen and pull it into the unit.
    Instead, a better choice would be a touch screen where the computer is seperate from the display, making the display much lighter in weight.

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I’m definitely thinking of dry places—like cabin nav station or pilot house—on larger boats. And I’m also thinking of an HP TS as alternate nav, communications, and entertainment…in other words, expendable. Several of the models are “wall mountable”, which I think means that a variety of mounts can attach. But, then again, I haven’t had the hands on experience Dan has. Guess I should pop in to Best Buy đŸ˜‰

  6. Marc Dacey says:

    I just saw those Spectra “storm curtains” and my very first thought was “hey, could those replace offshore storm shutters?” I have a steel pilothouse cutter and instead of carrying a bunch of precut plywood that could be dogged down to welded studs around my portlights, could these panels take a heavy sea?
    If they don’t rip easily and can be secured properly, I could see this working and the whole boat’s “storm shutters” could fit rolled up in a duffle bag.

  7. james McClelland says:

    Dan, I use PCs and Macs; macs still have no viruses; there is antivirus software but virtually no one uses it, as it’s unnecessary.

  8. GIS services says:

    Thanks for sharing..
    GIS data processing

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