Best marine AIS electronics for 2021
8/16/2021

If you’ve been shopping for boat electronics you may have heard the term AIS but not know what it is. That’s understandable. While AIS, which stands for Automatic Identification System, is mandatory on many commercial vessels it is not required aboard recreational boats. Nonetheless, it is a very user-friendly technology that can give you a heads-up about the location, course, speed and more of other vessels near you that are equipped with AIS.

There are different types of AIS, each with varying functionality, but the most common are Class A, Class B and Class B+ (also called Class B SOTDMA). In brief, Class A is targeted at commercial vessels, while B and B+ are more suitable, and affordable, for recreational boats. Click HERE for the Coast Guard’s public information website on AIS.

Six of the best AIS devices on the market are described below. We’ll bring you the second half of the lineup next week. The roster is part of an exercise Marine Electronics Journal does every year as part of our Buyers’ Guide. It works like this: We ask manufacturers to identify the one model they produce in a particular category (17 in all) that they consider to be their 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.

Last week we looked at radars. Click HERE. Next week: AIS equipment from ComNav, Digital Yacht, Koden, McMurdo, Onwa, Shine Micro and Vesper Marine.


Raymarine AIS700
 
The AIS700 is Raymarine’s latest-generation Class B AIS with full transmit and receive capability for enhanced situational awareness and navigation safety. For ease of installation, the AIS700 comes standard with a built-in VHF antenna splitter.  This simplifies the overall installation by enabling the AIS transceiver to share a common aerial with a marine VHF radio, if desired.  AIS700 supports NMEA 2000, NMEA 0183, PC-USB and SeaTalkNG networking for seamless onboard integration. AIS700 is designed to international standards with the very latest SOTDMA technology for faster updates. AIS700 has its own internal 72-channel GPS receiver and external antenna, as required by international standards.

Furuno FA70

The FA70 AIS transceiver provides multiple ports for simple connection to your NavNet, AIS-capable radar, chartplotter, or your favorite navigation software. AIS is a critical enhancement in congested waterways, graphically presenting information like vessel name and call sign, position, course, and speed. Because it does not require line of sight to function, you can display AIS-equipped vessels before you can see them on the water. The FA70 is a complete Class B+ (SOTDMA) AIS that transmits your vessel information at faster rates and more powerfully than existing Class B units. SOTDMA guarantees an AIS time slot allocation, making you visible in congested waters. It even has its own internal high-accuracy GPS receiver with WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) Differential (DGPS) capability, ensuring that you’re transmitting the highest precision information.


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