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Marine Electronics Journal Blog
Best radars for 2018

Radars are getting more user friendly and intuitive all the time---and that’s a good thing because many (maybe most) boaters find them intimidating. The reason is that quite often they don’t fire up their radars until they need them and then it’s too late. They’re not familiar reading the display or making adjustments to distinguish dangerous targets from sea clutter. 

Below we continue our look at the best electronics in 2018. Marine Electronics Journal does this exercise every year as part of the Buyers’ Guide. It works like this: We ask manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category that they consider to be the Best & Brightest—not necessarily the most technically advanced or newest but rather the one they rate highest in the product line for one reason or another. Could be the functions and features it offers, or maybe it breaks new ground in maximizing effectiveness or utility, or maybe it’s the most popular as measured by sales to boaters.

The Best & Brightest list includes 17 categories of electronics, from AIS and autopilots to satellite TV and wireless devices. Last week we rolled out the top-dog fishfinders/sonars. This week it’s radars.


Simrad Halo

A new, unlockable add-on feature for Simrad Halo Pulse Compression Radar Systems, VelocityTrack increases boater awareness by providing instant visual feedback on the motion of radar targets in relation to the boat, reducing the risk of a collision. Using the Doppler effect, VelocityTrack enables Halo radar to determine whether a target is closing, diverging, or stationary relative to your boat. Closing or approaching targets are automatically highlighted with the option to de-emphasize diverging or retreating targets. A perfect complement to MARPA, VelocityTrack offers an immediate view of all relative target motion, making it easier to pick out relevant targets to track and ignore targets that are not a collision risk.


Garmin Fantom 24

The 24 inch, 40 watt, solid-state Garmin GMR Fantom dome radar with MotionScope technology uses the Doppler effect to detect and highlight targets in different colors as they move toward or away from you to help avoid potential collisions. Features low power consumption, instant turn-on and no delay from warming up as with magnetron radars. Pulse Expansion setting maximizes target size to help differentiate real targets from noise. Dynamic Auto Gain and Sea Filter settings automatically adjust to your surroundings for optimal performance in all conditions. Dual-radar support provides redundancy and ability for each display unit on the boat to select data from one of two radar sources. MARPA setting enables simultaneous tracking of 10 targets. Excellent close- and long-range detection from 20 feet to 48 nautical miles.


Koden MDC-5200

The Koden MDC-5200 series radar from SI-TEX Marine Electronics delivers professional-grade performance for a wide range of vessels. With output power ranging from 4 kW to 25 kW and maximum range scales up to 96 nautical miles, the MDC-5200 is built for professional operators in challenging conditions. A long list of advanced features includes built-in AIS interface for displaying up to 1000 targets, built-in ARPA tracking of up to 100 targets, comprehensive ship’s data display and C-MAP chart overlay (with optional SD card). Koden’s Clear Image feature provides high-speed sampling in the short range for precise target acquisition and tracking, while Auto Gain and Auto STC settings allow for easy operation. The 12.1 inch high-resolution XGA display with anti-reflective coating provides clear viewing in any environment on open or enclosed helms.


Furuno DRS6A-NXT

The DRS6A-NXT is a solid-state radar with pulse compression and Doppler frequency shift-sensing technology built into a 3.5, 4 or 6 foot open array antenna. Designed for both NavNet TZtouch and TZtouch2 MFDs, the DRS6A-NXT is packed with features, including the revolutionary Target Analyzer. The Doppler Target Analyzer automatically changes the color of targets approaching your boat, clearly showing hazards. Green echoes are stationary or approaching targets moving at less than 3 knots. Echoes dynamically turn red when targets are approaching at a speed of 3 knots or faster. It works the same when you’re following another vessel. If the target is getting closer at a speed of 3 knots or more, the echo turns red. Target Analyzer works independently of one’s own ship speed.

Lowrance Broadband 4G

The Lowrance Broadband 4G Radar next-generation, solid-state Frequency Modulated Continuous Wave (FMCW) radome was the first radar to use beam sharpening, significantly improving resolution, to deliver incredibly sharp radar images. This innovative target-separation control allows users to adjust the level of separation by changing the width of the beam to meet specific navigational needs. Offering signature broadband radar close-range capability, the radar’s exclusive dual-range functionality makes it the only recreational radar capable of simultaneously displaying distances from 200 feet to 36 nautical miles (nm) from a single dome. The system offers 48 rpm speeds for near-instant updates at ranges less than 1 nm.


Raymarine Quantum 2

Quantum 2 is the latest generation of Raymarine’s popular Quantum CHIRP radar, now made even better with the addition of Doppler target processing. Quantum 2 instantly highlights moving radar contacts and color codes them to indicate whether they are inbound or outbound.  Boaters will enjoy vastly improved situational awareness and confidence at the helm. Like its predecessor, Quantum 2 uses CHIRP pulse compression technology for superior target detection at both short and long ranges. Integrated WiFi and thin cabling simplify installation plus Quantum’s energy efficient and lightweight design provides safe radiated emissions and substantially reduced power consumption.


ONWA KR-1008

The KR-1008 marine radar was our best seller for 2017. It is equipped with the latest digital radar target technology and comes with a 10 inch, 32-bit TFT color LCD display. The range is up to 36 nautical miles. The KR-1008 operates at X-band frequency with an output power of 4 kW and comes with a radome antenna. When an external AIS device is connected to the KR-1008, radar targets are overlaid with AIS targets, which provide data of nearby vessels for better collision prevention. Automatic target tracking up to 30 targets with warning of threatening targets violating preset CPA/TCPA settings. Supports NMEA 0183 interface for onboard interconnections. System software can be upgraded via USB.


SI-TEX NavStar

Using SI-TEX’s 25 inch, 4 Kw radome antenna, the NavStar 10 and NavStar 12 provide powerful, high-resolution dual-range radar that lets navigators track close-in and far-away targets at the same time for improved situational awareness and safety. This radar displays target intensity in color shades to differentiate between large and small vessels and different levels of weather severity, helping boaters steer clear of dangerous situations. Adjustable VRM and EBL functions provide precise range and bearing information to any target displayed. Additional features include Interference Rejection to eliminate interference caused by other radars, FTC to reduce rain clutter and STC to pick out targets hidden by high seas or spray.


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