Simrad NSS series, touch sensible?


Say hello to Simrad’s new NSS Sport series of multifunction displays — the NSS7, NSS8, and NSS12 — which are making their global debut today. They seem to have all the capabilities of the NSE series (which they can network with) plus a built-in GPS and, in the case of 7- and 8-inch sizes, a built-in Broadband fishfinder as well, along with quite competitive price tags (suggested retail prices of $1,895, $2,845 and $3,995 respectively). But the key feature is an LED backlit touch screen that is nearly as bright (1200 nits) as the NSE’s (1500), and which Simrad has used to create a combination knob, button, and touch interface it’s calling “Touch Sensible”…

The combination of touch screen and dedicated controls was arguably invented by Simrad sibling Northstar in the 8000i series, but since that product never took off, most people associate the concept with Raymarine’s “hybridTouch”, which I first tried in late 2009. I’ve been testing that E-140 Wide ever since, and though I’m still waiting for a software update to make minor improvements, there’s no doubt in my mind that a combination interface makes a lot of sense. Some things you want to do on an MFD are easier and quicker via touch, while others are better done by knob or button, simple as that. I haven’t yet had my hands on Simrad’s combo interface, or even seen it in the flesh, but I sure am excited that all that will happen later today here in Palma, Spain. My sense — based on lots of time with an NSE and images like this NSS7 home screen below –is that “Touch Sensible” will be a winner…


Besides the sexy icons, I also notice that Simrad has kept the dedicated controls to six buttons and the knob, and I suspect that will help with another positive aspect of touch interfaces: They don’t seem to intimidate new users. Of course they’re still not as clean as Garmin’s 5- and 7000 MFDs, and they also don’t have the space-saving advantage of a really minimal casing size, especially in the 12-inch size seen below…


But notice on those Broadband Sonar and StructureScan windows how many ways you can use the knob to quickly adjust settings, without a big and somewhat awkward on-screen slider.  (Notice too how different sonar and StructureScan imagery is, especially when you drive dead perfectly stern to stem over a wreck.)  Which is not is not to say that Garmin, which certainly pioneered marine touch screens, necessarily needs to add some knobs and/or buttons. Remember that you can network a Garmin MFD with buttons right alongside a pure touch model, and that Garmin also offers a wireless remote and mouse that extend pure touch nicely.
   Simrad’s new NSS series will also network with all button and knob models, including the NSO blackbox series, which is illustrated in the final image. And a great thing about the two days of demos about to commence is that they’ve rigged some ten different boats with a wide variety of systems. The interface devil is largely in the details, and it seems like I’ll get to see NSS in several settings.  Reports to come, of course, and don’t be overly jealous of my job today; one breakfast quip was “The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain, but sometimes falls on Majorca” 😉


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.

20 Responses

  1. Kees says:

    Seems like this is a nice place in the middle of the Navico range, slotted between HDS and NSE.
    Can you check what the relative processor speed & power consumption is vis-à-vis HDS and NSE?

  2. ArnoldZ says:

    I really do like the touchscreens! Though, how do they operate during a shower? I know some MFD’s like garmin will no longer register any touch
    Garmin GPSMAP 740 Touch Screen Fault:

  3. Anonymous says:

    Does “broadband” mean CHRIP capable?

  4. I applaud Simrad for putting out a smaller model. Many of us sailors don’t have the space, or the AH budget for larger units. I personally am still looking at potentially replacing my Lowrance unit before we start cruising full-time. Of course, I have questions:
    Overall size, depth
    Power requirements
    Controls autopilot like NSE? (looks like a yes as there is a STBY/auto button)
    direct connection of Ethernet (like the Lowrance HDS in the USA) or hub needed

  5. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Kees, The processor is said to be very fast, and seemed so even when on a loaded system. Also, Simrad put up NSS details today, and the power consumptions are listed (if you have a chance, please report on comparison):
    Arnold, Some Simrad guys were out today in the rain with an NSS that was mounted almost horizontal and said the touch still worked with water puddled on the screen. However, most anything can be done with buttons and knob. It stopped raining before the demos.
    Anon, “Broadband” as Navico uses it for sonar and radar is a generality. Only the BSM-2 does chirp.
    Chris, AP definitely works with NSS; I was driving a Baviar 40 around Palma yacht basin with the knob, and AP button screen works with touch. Slick! Other answers may be a link above but it looked to me like the NSS7 and 8 only have one Ethernet port so “hubless” depends on number of sensors/displays.

  6. John K says:

    Ben, while you’re there can ask them to puleeez consider LED backlighting to lower the power consumption for sailboats? There are many sailors who are more limited by amp hours required than they are by initial purchase price.
    That said I would also ask you to try to pry the actual computer specs for each model out of them?
    Since all this is is a PC surrounded by plastic and O-rings, I would really like to know what kind of chip, RAM and hardrive etc. I am getting for this kind of money.
    Like what EXACTLY is worth $2100 more inside the NSS12 besides X more square inches of LCD screen and plastic casing than the NSS7?
    Without this info please tell them I and probably many others will absolutely refuse on principle to pay that much extra just for a bigger screen. They may think there are plenty of boaters out there who just don’t care but I believe there is a quite large percentage of their market who does.
    This goes for all manufacturers, not just Navico.

  7. Kees says:

    A friend of mine already did the work of delving into the documentation, advertised power consumption for HDS/NSS/NSE is:

    HDS 7  10.4 W  -      -        NSS 7  10.4 W
    HDS 8  11.7 W  NSE 8  21.6 W   NSS 8  15.6 W
    HDS 10 13 W    NSE 12 33.6 W   NSS 12 26.0 W

    So power wise the smaller sizes are just bit over HDS, the larger one shoots up into NSE territory. Apparently a big screen uses a lot of power at high Nits. It looks likely that the NSS 12 will use significantly less when the backlight is not on “full”.
    From what I hear from other sources zooming is indeed very, very fast. They also call the controls “very untuitive.”
    Based on the style of the chassis and the Micro C connector instead of Simnet on the back I’d say this is manufactured side-by-side with HDS. Nothing wrong with that, of course.

  8. John K says:

    Correction, it is LED backlight, didn’t say that in the brochure but one of the other links does.

  9. AaronH says:

    I had my hands on a “Development” NSS 8 at Simrad tech training, and it’s a sweet unit. Just like the NSE, it will control an autopilot. Freeing up the range in/out from the screen and giving a “backup” wheel is a wonderful thing.
    One interesting note is that the units do not have a SimNet connector, but standard DeviceNet (N2k) connector on the rear. They continue to retain the Navico proprietary 5-pin yellow ethernet connector.

  10. Peter says:

    What about turboview engine like NSE?
    Nits are 1200 compared to 1500 for the NSE.
    I can see them using generic N2K as most users won’t be adding much NMEA2000 devices.
    (I do like my Simnet backbone inline connector and the plugs..saves a lot of space.)

  11. Doug Campbell says:

    Any thoughts on the size of these displays? I’m wondering why a 7 followed by an 8, then all the way to a 12. Why not a 9 or 10 instead of the 8? I have some space challenges on my helm and don’t think the 12, with that big bezel, will fit. I hate the thought though of going down to the 8… And then have to ask, is 1 inch worth nearly $1,000? Should I just look at the 7…
    I can see why they would want to have a “small” model but I’m scratching my head on the 8.
    Looking forward to your in use reports!

  12. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Peter, Thanks for correction about Nit ratings, now corrected in the entry. Simrad also mentioned it to me and it’s one of the reasons that NSS is considered the “good” model in a good/better/best NSS/NSE/NSO line up. Other factors are a plastic case (instead of aluminum) and a processor that’s actually slower than the NSE’s. It didn’t seem that way yesterday and Simrad probably won’t reveal the exact specs (nor will any other MFD manufacturer, to my knowledge). But I do have an interesting info to come on touch testing and comparative processor speed. Bottom line: Simrad still claims NSS is brightest touch machine and fast enough.
    Doug, note that NSS7 screen is actually 6.4-inch while NSS8 really is 8-inch.
    Gotta go back on the water (;-), further report may be a while.

  13. Ben;
    Do you know if the OP40 controller will work with the NSS units? I am envisioning a NSS display mounted forward in the cockpit, and a controller at the helm station.

  14. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Chris, Simrad says the OP40 keypad won’t be supported in the NSS v1 software, and hesitated to promise that it would be included a future update. NSE support for OP, incidentally, won’t arrive until v3.0, coming pretty soon.

  15. Sorin says:

    I’m really glad that Simrad has a smaller and cheaper version, but the 12′ device is wonderful…

  16. Peter says:

    Navico is certainly putting out a wack of new stuff, makes me wonder what market share looks like these days for them vs Garmin and Raymarine and Furuno.
    Any rough ideas,Ben?

  17. Ben Cosier says:

    Simrad NSS online forums
    The NSS forum will exchange valuable information and tips and is hosted by Invisible Communications, one of Simrad’s authorized technical dealers.
    The focus is on benefit to boaters with informative, objective and technical information, not a sales pitch.
    A great place to get answers, ask questions, find tips and information; anyone with comments, questions, suggestions and ideas is encouraged to participate and be part of the vibrant community the forum offers.
    Navigate to the forum at or visit InvisibleComms on Twitter.

  18. Steve says:

    Hi Ben, After viewing and playing with several of the main competitors in the 7-8″ MFD space – the NSS8 keeps coming to the top of my list. It appears to be the best interface mix, with an air of seriousness (if that even makes sense).
    I was told at the boat show that the NSS will do MPG calculations on multiple engines independently; simply feed it two Lowrance fuel flow NEMA2000 sensors and your working. I don’t know that I’ve seen this spelled out in the manual or in videos but I may have missed it.
    Do you have any insight into this?
    BTW, I also heard that coming spring they will have a wireless sync with iPad so you can do your routes at home and sync on the boat, just like the Raymarine e7.

  19. Bob W says:

    How does the computer interface connect? USB? Is/will there be an iPad ap?

  20. Patrick says:

    The Navico MFDs will use ethernet and a Navico specific WiFi hub (hopefully not required!) to enable GoFree functionality. One would assume iPad would be the very first app to be released.

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