Rupert Holmes takes a look at new chartplotters launched at the recent Southampton Boat Show and explains why they’re worth a closer look…

One of the best ways to choose new marine electronics is to get your hands on kit from a range of manufacturers, ideally with a knowledgeable expert on hand to answer questions.

It’s also always interesting to see higher end products operating alongside more budget priced units – this makes it easier to assess the extra functionality that can be gained by spending more.

However, opportunities to do this over the past couple of years have been limited thanks to the cancellation of boat shows because of Covid.

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As a result, this year’s Southampton Boat Show had a bumper selection of the best new chartplotters that have not been displayed before.

Best chartplotter upgrades

Improvements in both touchscreens and processing power over the past few years have resulted in big steps forward in multifunction displays (MFDs). Screens now typically have better resolution and are much clearer in bright sunlight, with wider viewing angles.

The screens of Raymarine’s latest Axiom+ range, for instance, are 25% brighter and have twice the resolution of the previous Axiom product, which itself was a significant step up compared to earlier units. At the same time there’s also more contrast and viewing angles have been increased still further.


Homescreen for easy navigation of the software on the Raymarine Axiom + MFD

In addition, both Raymarine (Axiom+) and B&G (Zeus 3S) have added quick quad-core processors that eliminate delays when scrolling or redrawing charts.

Garmin’s flagship GPSMAP Plus MFDs were upgraded a couple of years ago to include faster processors and better integration of third party devices using the Garmin OneHelm interface.

These chartplotters now also offer a more seamless experience when using Garmin’s ActiveCaptain app. The addition of 7in and 9in units to the range both offers lower cost options and gives more location options for tiller steered boats, including bulkhead mounting at the front of the cockpit.


B&G’s Zeus 3S has a quad-core processor for fast scrolling and redrawing of charts


Raymarine LightHouse charting software can show premium, leisure and satellite cartography

Improved cartography

The greater processing power of the best chartplotters has also enabled a step forward in cartography and all the big marine electronics manufacturers now have in-house charting departments.

Raymarine’s latest charts, for instance, were developed to upgrade clarity and functionality. User control has been improved in this respect – you can change the size of navigation aid icons to best suit your screen and different zoom levels.

There are also two different viewing modes aimed at leisure and professional users. The latter provides a presentation of key data only, while the leisure option gives a more data-rich experience.

Users can also create their own sonar maps to overlay onto charts created from official hydrographic data. In addition, high-definition satellite imagery with sufficient detail to show areas in an anchorage with kelp and clear sand, is also available.

Chartplotter deals

Buy B&G Zeus 3S from eBay

Buy Garmin GPSMAP Plus from

Buy Raymarine Axiom+ 7in from eBay

Buy Raymarine Lighthouse charts from

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This feature appeared in the October 2021 edition of Practical Boat Owner. For more articles like this, including DIY, money-saving advice, great boat projects, expert tips and ways to improve your boat’s performance, take out a magazine subscription to Britain’s best-selling boating magazine.

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