Raymarine C Widescreens, impressions


I got aboard a demo of the new Raymarine C-Series Widescreens last week and was fairly impressed. While I don’t really care that these 16 x 9 aspect ratio screens are “theater like”, I do believe in getting the biggest display possible, and this format helps, because the fit-onto-helm constraint is usually vertical. (You can see demo boat helm here.) The format also seems to work well with some styles of split screen navigation, as I attempted to illustrate above. If I’d had more time I’d have put both chart and radar in look-ahead modes, and set the soft key menu to auto hide. Note that the screen, at 1280 x 800 pixels, looks sharper than my photo shows, but is purportedly still about as bright as the existing C-Series. Raymarine has tons on the new MFDs here, and I have some niggles below…

When I first wrote about the C Wides, one commenter was critical of the new “Unicontrol”–which replaces cursor pad, rotary knob, and OK button–and I’ve heard similar from other early lookers. I tried it briefly and agree that it probably isn’t as quick at, say, spinning through the alphabet to name a waypoint, but let’s reserve judgment until we’ve had a chance to really use it. Besides, product manager Rob Peterson claims that the Unicontrol “simplifies the mental mapping” a new user goes through, and, Lord knows, we all need more simplification in our interfaces.
   Another complaint I’ve heard is that the new Widescreens are not compatible with existing Raymarine analog radar domes and that the wiring harness has changed, and hence upgrading from an older C-Series will be painful. But there are (somewhat surprisingly) three NMEA inputs and two outputs in that new harness. Plus putting radar processing in the scanner and sending it down via Ethernet, while dumping proprietary radar connectors, is the (good) industry trend. In fact, that seems to be the main explanation for Raymarine’s new Digital Radomes. Though I notice that the 18″ model is now 4 kW and rated to 48 miles, I heard that the real performance bump will come with HD versions.
   Rob Peterson told us that the new Widescreens sport processors that are 2.5 times faster than the current C’s, and hence about 15% faster than the current E Series. Considering all the above and support for dual radars, dual ranges, and other features previously reserved for E-(and G)–Series, you have to ask how the heck the next E-Series will top the C Wides. I did, of course, and Rob mostly just laughed, maybe a little maniacally.

Raymarine C90 Front.jpg

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.

10 Responses

  1. Cecil says:

    Will the new Raymarine HD Domes be the same size as the existing domes? I replaced an older 18 Inch Dome with a new one and it would not fit because the newer style 18″ dome was actually almost 22 INCHES!! I had to move my anchor light and have fiberglass work done.

  2. I’ve been wondering if the new E Series will be touch screen like the Garmin 5000

  3. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    I don’t know, Geoff. Rob Peterson wouldn’t reveal much about the new E-Series, though he did say the changes would be mostly about content and interface, and of course it will jump way ahead of the C Wides in processing power.
    Cecil, I also don’t know much about the HD radomes, but doubt they will mean a casing change. HD is mostly about DSP chips and software.

  4. Tim says:

    Looks like a significant step up. The bundled maps and internal GPS take some of the sting off the higher price as well. Did they mention anything about availability? I see retailers have them up on the web but apparently none yet in stock.

  5. Ben – I think you saw my e-mail. I wasn’t immediately in love with the new Unicontrol. My finger was slipping all over it – I prefer the separate knob and trackpad, and I’m concerned that when I’m pounding through 10ft+ waves it will be difficult to control. I guess I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt. I also was a bit disappointed about the lack of a good upgrade path from the original C-Series. The general industry trend tends to require replacement of wiring harnesses on every upgrade, and that gets a bit frustrating when you have a very well put together (read: lots of tightly joined woodwork) boat that you have to run new cables through. Yes, there are a lot more features and such, but I’m looking to incrementally upgrade my current electronics setup, and the new product requires a replacement of the plotter, radar and cabling.

  6. Labozza says:

    Raymarine is projecting a Q2 launch for the C-Wides, Digital Radomes, the ST70+, and the AIS500. As far as the bundled cartography, it is the Navionics Silver charts that are included, you would still want to purchase an additional XL9 Gold or Platinum Plus card to get the most out of the machine.

  7. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Chris, and here are slightly more specific projections direct from Raymarine:
    C-Series Widescreen: Early Spring 09
    Digital Domes: March 09
    AIS500: May 09
    ST70: May 09

  8. John says:

    The new C90 Wide draws 32watts whereas the old C80 comes in 10watts; that’s an enormous difference. I checked with Raymarine tech support and they confirmed the numbers were accurate.

  9. Benoit (fr) says:

    We must say also, that NMEA2000 management on Series A, Wide C and E is not good !
    If you put two wind sensor on your network (it’s an example), you can select just one “Wind Speed” information in “Sail” chapter, and you don’t know which one is it.
    With a Lowrance you select the sensor’s information you need; here, you select information without to know from what sensor it coming. It’s not good isn’t it ? Say it to Rob ! 😉

  10. Catamaran Pete says:

    We had a booth in the Victoria boat show this weekend,it was slow so I had plenty of time to play with the new c120wide on our display.
    We had it side by side an E80,both running platinum plus.
    I really liked it,the screen isn’t as bright as the E but it is brighter that the classic C.
    the Cw handled the 3D and overlays much easier than the E,it seemed more than 25% faster,but that’s subjective.
    Much improved chart cartridge door with a proper hinge and latch.
    And the new control that combines the rotary,curser and ok button was cool and easy to get used to.
    the built in gps receiver worked well,locking in the 135 wass no problem.
    I would put one on my own boat but I want to wait and see what the new E series will look like.

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