MaxSea buys Nobeltec, now what?


Heads are still being scratched. Why would SigNet S.A. — the French holding company that owns MaxSea and MapMedia, and is itself 48% owned by Furuno — buy Jeppesen’s Nobeltec division?  And what does this mean for VNS and Admiral users, and marine electronics?  I got to talk with all the companies involved yesterday, and am optimistic that Nobeltec customers will benefit from this deal, at least in the short term, and agree with many that the overall possibilities are, um, “interesting”…

At least for now the only real change Nobeltec users may experience sounds like a positive.  The customer service department will move from Denver back to Portland, Oregon, where the Nobeltec management and developer team will remain headquartered.  Product manager Bill Washburn says that getting the staff back together again should mean improved service.  He also seemed happy about going to work for Brice Pryszo, who founded MaxSea in 1985 and is still excited about PC navigation today.  It seemed more and more obvious over the last year or so that Jeppessen was much more interested in providing data than developing software, let alone marketing hardware like radars.  I dare guess it was hard to be a tiny division of a huge corporation that had apparently lost interest.
   But Jeppesen definitely wants to keep updating and selling C-Map MAX Pro charts, and even Passport Charts (now based on C-Map data) to Nobletec users.  And thus it may have been a brilliant move to put Nobeltec in the hands of a company that knows a great deal about PC charting.  Meanwhile MaxSea gets an instant relationship with a large US user base it’s always had a hard time cracking.  But, while nobody involved will committ to more than the keep-on-keeping-on plans above, I suspect that there’s more to the story.
   When I asked Ken Cirillo, longtime C-Map USA manager, if this transition might lead to C-Map core data getting used by MapMedia to make NavNet 3D and MaxSea Time Zero charts, he grinned big time.  And I got similar results when I asked Furuno product manager Eric Kunz if this might mean that Nobletec users will get Furuno hardware options.  At minimum I imagine Nobeltec users might eventually be offered a smooth upgrade path to MaxSea.  Best line of the day goes to FurunoUSA’s marketing manager Dean Kurutz.  When I noted how propitious it seems that I am just about to install and compare Nobeltec Admiral and the soon releasing MaxSea Time Zero (w/ and w/o Furuno hardware), and their respective cartography, he cackled, “We win!”

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.

24 Responses

  1. Russ says:

    Sounds like some corporate development guy at Jeppesen got very confused a couple years ago and bought Nobeltec when they really wanted to buy C-Map. Now they’ll keep C-Map and dump Nobeltec.

  2. Adam says:

    Ben, speaking of MaxSea TZ, since it is now three or so months after the last reported “release” date, do you have any info you can share as to when I’ll finally be able to get a Furuno radar image on my PC screen?

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Adam, I must have missed a press release. I checked with Furuno this evening, and was assured that TZ Navigator and TZ Explorer (the one that integrates with NN3D) are now shipping. Details here:

  4. Andy Murray says:

    Hi Ben / Adam,
    Can confirm in using explorer in the UK and it works very well

  5. Russ says:

    I certainly see the product listing on the Furuno web site, but if the product is now shipping, some major dealers haven’t gotten the news. I checked Landfall Navigation, Waypoints and Defender; none of them lists time zero on their web site, though they do list the old MaxSea NavNet software.
    A Google search produced one dealer in Wisconsin, then Panbo, Furuno and MaxSea, no other dealers.
    Reading through the MaxSea Time Zero product description on the link you provided, it directed me to for support, chart updates, software updates, etc.. This link was then redirected to the site and failed to load the entire page. I repeatedly flushed my cache, rebooted and reloaded the page and stil got only fragments of the page. However, this text did load:
    “MaxSea has created a club for all users of MaxSea Time Zero. This privileged area christened �My MaxSea� will be accessible soon in 2008.” Since it is now the 4th quarter of 2009, it would seem that this web site is not being maintained.
    The “chart catalog” link on the Furuno MyNavNet page also directs to, then fails to load.
    I have made a major investment of both time and money in Furuno / MaxSea and I would really like them to make this marriage work, bringing to market all the features and support that were announced almost two years ago in Ft. Lauderdale.
    Now MaxSea buys Nobeltec. It’s hard to see how they have the resources to take on yet another project.

  6. Adam says:

    Ben et al:
    The press release and Web site update are good news. However, I was unable to find MaxSea TZ Explorer for sale at any online retailers (in the US; Todd in the UK sells it for 2X the US MSRP) or from MaxSea/Furuno directly (the MaxSea online store sells Navigator but not Explorer, and the billing is in Euros).
    Ben, would you be open to going back to your Furuno source to find out where to buy?
    Thanks! I’ve been waiting for TZ on the PC for a long time, and this feels like real progress…

  7. Richard says:

    Furuno just released the introduction email to the 200+ Furuno USA Dealers on Wednesday afternoon.
    They all can order the Maxsea TZ products now but I’m sure that they haven’t had time to update their www sites yet.
    I was able to load the and www sites without any problems. I also downloaded the free USA Fishing Chart and some of the free satellite photos without any problems from the www site.
    I noted your complaint and site did recommend IE7 and Firefox 3 and I am using IE7 like most others…
    My dealer told me the Maxsea TZ Explorer package that I ordered will be in on Monday or Tuesday….

  8. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Adam, I’m back in Maine, and the Furuno guys are probably back in Washington. But it sounds like Richard knows what’s going on, and you’ll have your TZ fairly soon. Please let us know what you think of it.

  9. Russ says:

    That explains the s/w availability. I still can’t acess the MaxSea web site. I’ve tried both IE7 and Safari. In both cases it loads about half the page, then times out.
    What’s the version number of the official release of MaxSea Time Zero?

  10. Russ says:

    The site is now loading fine, and I understand the release version is 1.7.2.

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Good. is loading fine here, too, using Firefox 3.5 on Vista 64.
    Must add that I got this note from an installer this morning:
    “Given the experience we�ve had with MaxSea TZ running on a NavNet3d MFD, Furuno would be better off dumping MaxSea and installing Nobeltec on the boxes. But that�s my cynical Monday morning view, based on multiple replacement units and crashes both on board xxxxx and on our test bench. I�m trying to figure out how there is going to be one product left standing when the dust settles, unless they�re going to market MaxSea exclusively as a NN3d pc-based MFD.”
    But who says there has to be one product left standing? By the way, I’ve experienced a couple of MFD12 lockups myself, but it is an extraordinarily ambitious and powerful MFD.

  12. Andy Murray says:

    I have been running TimeZero with a customer since V1.0 and there have been ups and down with regards its reliability but i must say V1.7.2 is working very well.
    It does not like you sleeping the computer but it picks up all the data from the NavNet network and syncs perfectly.
    Dont dump Maxsea TZ for Nobeltecs bloated software!
    Interesting to see how it pans out nobeltecs radar being Koden and all

  13. Furuno Tech says:

    If the comments from your anonymous “Installer” came from the U.S. market, they are a little strange considering he and his customer must have been a Beta User of the Maxsea TZ Explorer product!!
    After all, this is precisely why Beta Users exist and they have been very valuable in helping Maxsea develop and improve the TZ product.
    This is also the reason why the introduction had been held off so long in the U.S.
    As per Andy’s comment, Maxsea TZ Explorer v1.7.2 is very stable and has been tested extensively with Navnet 3D MFDs.
    Furuno Tech

  14. Adam says:

    I just received the new MaxSea TZ brochure from my friendly installer, and have found something curious: Though the comparison table for Navigator and Explorer suggests that the only difference between them is the Navnet3D hardware integration (and some obscure weather feature), the two versions have different hardware requirements:
    – 1GB RAM for Navigator vs. 2GB for Explorer
    – 1.5 GHz processor for Nav vs 2 GHz for Exp
    And especially for video:
    Minimum: Intel Integrated Chipset 945 or above Recommended: Dedicated ATI or NVIDIA card w/256Mb RAM
    Minimum: Dedicated ATIor NVIDIA card w/256Mb RAM Recommended: Dedicated ATI or NVIDIA card w/512Mb RAM Integrated Video Chipset are NOT supported
    It seem that the radar overlay puts a pretty heavy burden on the hardware.

  15. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    “Given the experience we�ve had with MaxSea TZ running on a NavNet3d MFD…” He may not have his terminology perfect, but he meant just the TZ running on the MFD, not the PC program.

  16. AK says:

    Does anybody know if it is possible to have the radar overlay from a Furuno NN3D Radar and have it display on Maxsea *WITHOUT* an MFD on the network???

  17. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I’ve been testing MaxSea TimeZero Explorer and can tell you that you must have an MFD in the system for MSTZ to get the radar:

  18. AK says:

    Well, that’s bizarre – have a look at the official FAQ:
    Page 6:
    1 – Is MaxSea TimeZero compatible with NavNet 3D?
    MaxSea TimeZero Explorer can be connected to any NavNet 3D network (NavNet 3D capability does not require a separate module). When MaxSea TimeZero Explorer is connected to the NavNet 3D network, you will be able to:
    – View and control the Radar (DRS) from your PC
    There are also many references to other network equipment (FAX30, FA30 etc) working to supply info to Maxsea without an MFD…
    Any thoughts here? Is there an official guide to what will and won’t work with/without an MFD? I would have thought that ethernet is ethernet and the devices connected via ethernet just broadcast their info and maxsea TZ would just pick them up off the network?

  19. AK says:

    I should clarify – I’m still unclear about AIS/Weather etc – but the FAQ refers to DRS connection as follows:
    5 – Can I directly connect a Furuno DRS antenna to MaxSea TimeZero?
    No, at least one MFD is required on the network (for example one MFD8) in order to
    setup and control advanced parameters of the DRS or Network Sounder.
    So what if I don’t want “advanced parameters” – just viewing? Sneaky FAQ..

  20. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Bizarre? Nah…just the way Furuno designed things. I think the MFD even has to on, though it can be in sleep mode, for MSTZ to see the radar.
    But the FAX30 weatherfax is entirely different. It’s run and viewed via any browser, no other Furuno equipment required.

  21. Andy Murray says:

    Actually as long as the DRS is powered you will see it on MXTZ
    Does require a 48V DC PSU tho…..
    but not offically supported and setup cant be done without an MFD……..

  22. AK says:

    What about AIS? FA30? Does that need an MFD?

  23. AK says:

    Oops, forgot to mention on the FAX30 – yes it’s viewable on any browser – but will MaxSea TZ overlay it onto the charts?

  24. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    There’s not much point to overlaying weatherfax images as they’re raster. MaxSea can display, even animate, vector weather prediction info that it fetches from MaxSea’s own free data service.

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