Written by Ben Ellison on Mar 18, 2014 for Panbo, The Marine Electronics Hub
There's more to the new Si-Tex T-760 Series radar than you'll currently find on that product page. Those multi-speed radomes are unlike anything Si-Tex has offered before and contain digital processing that will eventually put 16-level true color target imagery on that 800 x 480 pixel touch screen (with a software update). Plus, the case is carved from solid aluminum and can be easily flush mounted. At a suggested retail of about $2,100 with the 18-inch radome and an impressive set of radar features, the T-760 looks like an interesting alternative for boaters who don't want all their electronic navigation tools on a multifunction display. It might also work for those early adopter types who can't get radar on the tablets they want to use for primary navigation.
Some old salts value redundancy over the easy integration and common interface of an MFD, and they might pair the T-760 with one of the new Si-Tex SVS-760 Series (though they're sourced from a different manufacturer). The plotter only "C" model -- which can run either C-Map Max or Navionics Gold cartography -- retails at $799, the "F" fishfinder at $749, and the SVS-760CF combo above at $999. At 5.4-inches wide and 8.9-inches high, the T-760 display might also fit neatly next to an existing 10 or 12-inch plotter that doesn't have a radar option. But note how close that profile is to, say, an iPad mini in portrait mode, and that the head-up, look-ahead style looking good on the T-760 screen can also work well in many charting apps.
You may also think of a tablet when you watch Si-Tex's Allen Schneider finger tap range changes in this T-760 demo video. Apparently, you can also do many tasks with the display's twist and push-to-enter knob and a set of "favorite" icons that appears at the bottom of the screen with a tap, but in my experience touch is great for chores like selecting a blip you want to track with MARPA or an AIS target you want more detail on. Well, that is if the touch controls are well designed and fast, and Schneider says they are...
I wish the menu system was shown in the video, but I did get the low res images above, and Schneider told me that those menu buttons are each about a small finger high and easy to tap (or knob through). What's illustrated is the ability of the T-760 to use custom Transmit/Standby periods to save power, and also that it can display a go-to waypoint sent over NMEA 0183 from a plotter. In fact, some 0183 connections -- GPS and Heading -- are required before the radar can do MARPA (called ATA in the spec list below), and you'll get the most from this device if its three 0183 ports are also listening to AIS and talking to your plotter.
I guess some graybeards can integrate raw radar and charts pretty well in their heads, but just having a simple waypoint from the plotter on the radar screen, and/or a target message from the radar on the electronic chart, can really help with situational awareness. It may be a pain to make all the NMEA 0183 connections, but it is doable, and it's also interesting that 0183 messaging is being used to connect boat data to nav apps over WiFi. With no radar sensor available for direct use on a tablet, might some apps and multiplexor developers work on easy data integration with the T-760? Might Si-Tex -- already smart to offer products the big boys don't -- eventually make a similar radar with its own WiFi data output, even radar image streaming?