V4 & P+, first impressions


I’ve been bench testing Raymarine’s E-Series V4 software update (aka 4.29) for a while now, mostly with a variety of new Navionics Platinum+ cards I borrowed. If you’ve read the comments to that V4 post, you’ll know that some upgraders have had to revert to 3.31, and I’m not surprised. There’s lots of changes in 4.29, and even my relatively unstressed test E-120—just a bit of N2K input; nothing attached via standard SeaTalk, SThs, or NMEA 0183 right now—goes a little twitchy sometimes. Like suddenly the 3D rotary controls don’t work unless I do a reset. And it invariably resets when I try to query the new STng (N2K) diagnostic screen, no matter what’s on the backbone. Plus I’ve yet to see P+’s live tide/current icons or the now built-in Fish’N Chip bathy data, despite another 4.29 flash and master reset (apparently Raymarine and Navionics are working on that latter one). However, I’d certainly recommend updating; just be prepared to go back to 3.31 if needed, and be on the lookout for the update to the update surely in the works.

Now, for some good stuff, check out the above screen full size. I like the new compass bar, which you’ll notice indicates bearing to waypoint and also has steering hints that get more insistent the further off track you get. Note too that you get a choice of this narrow version or the double size normally pictured, and a choice of using heading or COG. There’s more control of boat vectors too; I’ve set up a three minute COG line, with the medium width. But the real honey, I think, is that “Depth Plane” control. See how it clearly delineates all the water deeper than 20’, making it easier for me to safely gawk at that Italian shoreline seen in the hi res photo map. Note that I’ve turned off photo overlay and text in the 3D mode, because I prefer the simplicity, but I would like to have the nav aids repeated there. However, “Depth Plane” and Nav Aids don’t seem to work together… yet.
   Note too that I have the photo map overlay at 100%, which best shows off their detail but also—egad!—obscures all spot soundings and bathy lines. I know old salts will howl, but I see the day coming when many will decide that eyeballing that data is a waste of brain cycles compared to, say, a “depth plane” feature or Garmin’s “hot colors”.  Of course there are other ways to skin that cat, like the Bahamas screen below (full size here), where I’ve set up both a 100% chart window and a 100% photo map window. Not to mention a data panel, a great E/C feature introduced in 2006, and now improved with at least that mini waypoint highway choice (which only stopped working during the screen shot), and maybe more? And check out all the bottom detail on the chart, a vast improvement over previous Navionics Bahamas data and possibly the best there is, as they did their own surveying in some locals.
   But this image turned out to be bitter sweet, and also a reminder of why I want easily accessed date (and source) info on cartography like this. You see back in the early 70’s I spent a couple of blissful weeks anchored here, working on the boat, diving for conch and fish, and wandering the long abandoned estate. What I remember most vividly was an old billiard house, overgrown concrete paths alive with cute lizards, and tiny sour oranges perfect for rum drinks. But now, though not yet visible on Platinum+, the lux vacation sales guys, and their dozers, have arrived. Damn!


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.

6 Responses

  1. Sandy says:

    I note your delicate treatment of two much abused (and justly deserving) manufacturers. But no matter how enticing the product may be, “buy it now and reset a lot” is a trademarked advertising slogan for a much larger software company. It occurs to me that your stretegy is to present these faults in a rose-colored light, maintaining friendly relations with the wounded bear, and to let us shred the still living remains in the most satisfying manner. Lets see how many ways we can say “I think I’ll wait on this one!”

  2. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Sandy, I’d like to think that I’m respectful of the fact that it’s a hell of a lot easier for me to write about these complex products than it is to make them 100% functional in everyone’s different systems.
    I will be visiting Navionics tomorrow and hope to get new cards with the Fish’N Chip done right, and discuss some of the other issues. But please don’t read more into what I wrote than I meant. In fact, I like V4 and Platinum+ quite a bit. One thing I failed to mention in the entry is that, aside from the issues, the combo works quite well together. Photo maps and 3D seem faster and smoother–and a lot prettier–than the V3 E-Series with a Platinum card. Really!

  3. Thomas Petersen says:

    I upgraded to V4 on my dual E120 system and lost the use of the Sirius Weather system. I am not sure if this is directly related to the update or if it is due to something else that was coincidental, but I was checking to see if you found any such oddities as well?
    I haven’t been able to get the Platinum Plus chip yet for the west coast. Very expnsive to trade it in. There is only a $100 rebate for the upgrade.

  4. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thomas, did you do a real “master reset”? That’s not just the factory default reset seen on the system menu. To do a master reset you hold down the left most soft key and power up the E.
    I just learned this myself yesterday, so it may well be that some of the problems described above will get fixed easily once I get back to the lab.

  5. Dan (b393capt) says:

    Thomas … easy answer. This happened to me, the SR-100 worked for a couple of hours then quit with a connection error … at first I thought my antenna died or something.
    Allthough in retrospect the instructions on the raymarine website appear to be crystal clear … somehow I missed the step to upgrade my sr-100.
    Look back at the on-line steps to upgrade and you will see there was a file included for SR-100 users to upload into the SR-100 as an additional step after the E-series is upgrade.

  6. Mike says:

    I’m confused abouth bathy display information. Is the issue with the V4 or the P+? I have the P+ card, but haven’t upgraded to V4 yet. I read the thread on the Hull Truth. Seems like there may be issues with selected charts.

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