The Power and the Glory
Simrad has improved on itself again with the introduction of the NSO evo3, a direct competitor to Garmin’s 8400/8600 series. This is a full display and processor unit in one. Basically, what that means is that everything you want to show and control gets connected to this unit.
This unit starts out at 16” (40.64 cm) and goes up from there, to 19” (48.26 cm) and 24” (60.96 cm) sizes so it’s obviously made for larger boats. With a new iMX 8 processor, it offers faster page changes, with average load times cut in half. Even more impressive is the movements on the screen, like chart rotation and panning, are smoother than ever before.
Multitasking is a feature that typically uses up gobs of memory and therefore slows things down considerably. That’s a thing of the past with the NSO evo3. Even splitting the screen 6 ways show no degradation in performance.
The unit delivers viewing from wide angles, so those glances after leaving the helm are no longer a problem. The screen is also sunlight readable, and finally, it’s readable even with polarized lenses on thanks to the combination LCD and polarizer. And with an HD resolution screen, images are clearer than ever. The 24” (60.96 cm) screen has 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution and 1200 nits of brightness.
The Connected Captain
The Simrad NSO evo3 is the core of having everything needed to build a glass helm. An OP50 remote will allow control of up to 6 separate displays. Wireless connectivity allows remote viewing and control from a smart device as well. The wireless feature also allows for seamless upgrades from any wireless hotspot or ethernet networking. NMEA 2000 and a first for Simrad, J1939 networking, allows limitless integration options.
This MPU can connect to a wide range of Simrad products and third-party accessories from charting, radar and sonar, to autopilot and on-board entertainment for complete system control from every networked display on board.
This unit is absolutely loaded with connectivity options with no less than 3 ethernet ports, NMEA 2000 ports, HDMI input, 2 composite video inputs, HDMI output, WiFi, and Bluetooth. Note, too, the 3 USB ports, which can currently be used for keyboard, mouse and mass-storage connections, according to Simrad, and obviously enable future features and functions. However, for all its connectivity it still doesn’t support IP-Cameras. But it is in development. Now it can display video from entertainment systems and PC’s thanks to the HDMI inputs, but controllability is one way. You can’t use the NSO to control, say, a connected PC. Future software updates may allow that through the USB ports. Still, the ability to connect a PC and pull up a screen to type out a waypoint name is not lost on us. Nor is building a route by clicking a mouse.
One big feature that was long overdue, is the J1939 input. This allows engine data to be integrated into the display without the need for a gateway that converts the J1939 to NMEA 2000 connections.
We love the wheel key as it doesn’t tie us in to using only touch controls…something that gets hard to do in a heavy seaway, or when the screen gets hot from direct sunlight. These units also took a page from the NSS operations manual and allows for it to be configurable. By default, it controls the autopilot, if one is connected.
Otherwise, users can select the control brought by a short press or long press.