by Dom Wiseman

Modern boat electronics have come a long way and now have become an integral part of the fishing and boating landscape. There would not be any serious angler who hasn’t at  least glanced at a screen to see what is down there. And they’re not only useful for their sonar capabilities. Multifunction units can display maps, run video, infra red cameras and even satellite imagery making them crucial for safety as well.

Raymarine have built up an enviable following in the large cruiser market with many recreational and commercial operators making use of their class leading sonar and nav units. Their new unit, the Axiom takes that knowledge and more and delivers a new level of usability to the excellent software capabilities we know they already have.


WHAT’S ONBOARD

The new Raymarine Axiom units are available in 7, 9 and 12 inch screens and use a matt glass finish to deliver a screen that is readable from anywhere in the boat. We had the unit rigged on a centre console with a T-top and at no time was the screen difficult to get a read on. The finish also means that unlike high gloss screens finger prints are not overly visible and that can only be a good thing on a touch screen. They have also managed to create a screen that is easy to use, yet has no ‘hard’ buttons. The lack of these buttons means these Raymarine units deliver a bigger screen on a smaller overall template so multi-unit installs and tight dashboards are no problem for the Axiom units. This new design in no way impeded the use of the Axiom unit.

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The new units a built on a new software platform called Lighthouse 3. It uses faster quad core processors with this units being the fastest the company have ever produced. The new software is also extremely intuitive and powerful and running a redesigned interface which is easy to use and personalise. This new speed is crucial when integrated with Raymarine’s new RealVision 3D sonar technology. Most other units require the addition of modules and multiple transducers to deliver the 3D view, yet Raymarine have managed to deliver it with a single transducer. This single unit is combines CHIRP DownVision, CHIRP SideVision, High Frequency CHIRP and RealVision 3D. A marked difference from many other units on the market. It works by firing off a signal at multiple angles to generate a real life pattern of the underwater terrain.

This makes install a very easy affair. The display works effectively to 90 metres either side and 90 metres straight down. At the display you can pan, tilt and zoom the image from every angle with the swipe of a finger which really allows you to see a patch of reef as if you were standing on the bottom. It also displays fish across the bottom with the ability for an angler to mark fish anywhere on the 3D view and place a waypoint anywhere across the reef or bottom structure. In addition Raymarine have added a gyro-stabiliser to the transducer which is effective in taking out the pitch and roll of high seas delivering a truly representative image of the bottom structure. It wasn’t overly rough on the day we tested this fishing offshore but when swell came I didn’t notice a simultaneous change in the bottom contour when we were stationary.

Seeing this RealVision 3D in operation really does offer an accurate representation of the bottom structure, individual pinnacles across a reef and rises or depressions. One thing I would like to see is a reading for the depth of the highest and lowest points across a reef. While you can see the 3D view, it is difficult to really get an accurate reading on how high or how deep rises or depressions are. That aside it is very effective in mapping a reef.

While the 3D vision and transducer is primarily an inshore option, the unit is still capable of work in normal sonar mode (High CHIRP) well offshore making it the perfect option for sports fishermen chasing larger species as well without needing alternate hardware.

Out of the box the unit required very little referring back to instructions to reach a solid and effective level of use. From the sonar screen there is a single touch menu button on the top right that leads you straight into settings such as sensitivity and colours allowing you to personalise the display and optimise it depending on the style of fishing you are doing. There is also a waypoint button requiring a single press that is available at all times on the screen making quick position marking a simple and quick affair.

In addition to all the increased speed and RealVision 3D this unit is plug and play compatible with the other offerings in the Raymarine stable such as forward looking infra red (FLIR) and satellite. This makes it quite a formidable unit with the option for owners to upgrade when ready and add other elements as their uses change.


OVERVIEW

The new Axiom units with their single transducers are sure to change the game when it comes to operation and 3D vision. No longer do owners have to run several modules and transducers to get a real time view of structure. The software and platform is one of the easiest we’ve used. It is sure to attract a whole new generation of users who will now be able to see and use technology that has traditionally been the domain of large cruisers.

Priced for the Axiom MFD Series range from $649.99 to $3349.99