furuno-drs4w-wifi-radar

Furuno DRS4W Wi-Fi Radar for iPad & iPhone

And here we go – the first Radar with Wi-Fi interface that connects to your iPhone or iPad

furuno-drs4w-wifi-radar

for radar images. The Furuno DRS4W Radar was launched at the Stockholm Boatshow on March 7th 2014.

The Furuno DRS4W gets it juice from a power cable only – so no thick radar cable. The DRS4W then has the Wi-Fi module built in – and can talk to iPhones/iPad’s up to 10 meters away.

You get full touch interface from the iPhone and iPad – with zoom and moving around the image. Two devices can connect to the radar at the same time.furuno-drs4w-wifi-radar app

The radar is a “migration” of their normal 4KW dome radar. Just with “added” Wi-Fi. So hardware specs are 4 KW – 36 mile range – 24 RPM – 5.5 kg.

So what is not to like? Well – all of it – why would you want a radar with a proprietary Wi-Fi interface? That only connects to iDevices – and can’t connect to another network. So now for navigation and radar you need 2 iDevices. So in our humble opinion – this is nothing but a marketing ploy. But a good one.  But iDevices are NOT ready to be main navigation equipment unless you have adequate shade since iDevices displays are not really bright enough to use outside on the water unless you use it in a cabin. If you have a cabin – you are probably in a boat big enough to have real marine navigation system.

Furuno could “fix it” by letting the radar connect to other “on the boat” Wi-Fi networks. That would help a bit. But the problem is radar streaming data – takes a LOT of bandwidth. So it could saturate a small Wi-Fi connection. Furuno could also make a dual use radar – so with cable AND Wi-Fi. But Wi-Fi as the only connection – not worth it at all.

It is almost as bad as the singleton device Wi-Fi in Garmin’s and Raymarine’s GPS. Please guys – give your customers some love – and don’t force them to play network musical chairs – changing Wi-Fi networks for GPS Access, Radar Access, Sonar Access and so on.

You will just sit around and be more in the iPad /Wi-Fi settings menu – than any application you have on your iPad.

Back to the drawing board Furuno….. (And same goes for YOU Garmin and YOU Raymarine)

Let your devices CONNECT to a SINGLE Wi-Fi Access-point – where iDevices can connect to – without having to fiddle in settings all the time… please…….

PRS COMM have the first commercial info : Click here with a price set at GBP 1195,- (US$ 2000) – delivery set for sometime in May.

Dagens Batliv (Todays boat life) has more launch info in Swedish : Click here

[Updated 30/06 2014]

Furuno has launched a website for wireless radar. Here is a Link

But nothing has changed my opinion that it is a waste of space device trying to ride the iDevice/Tablet wave.

Notice on even pan to iPhone or iPad in the video – Furuno changes to “screen shot mode” –  and never lets us see what the screen looks like in real life. The issue is the screen’s on iPad and iPhone are hard to see outside. The only “real usage” scenario on the video is where they show the radar used in the cabin.

Please Furuno – tell us what the strategy is? Is the Furuno future Cable-less? Will the next MFD have Wi-Fi and connect to the radar? Then there could be “some” idea.

My suggestion Furuno – make a short range Wi-Fi radar – portable – low power consumption. Make it iPhone and Android AND PC/Mac compatible – so we can use Tablets / Computers with HIGH brightness screens. So it will be a truly portable system for use on small vessels and “backpack” usage. But the current version is a waste of space.

8 thoughts on “Furuno DRS4W Wi-Fi Radar for iPad & iPhone”

  1. Of course, it’s it’s so bright outside that you can’t see the iPhone/iPad screen … then you probably don’t need Radar in the first place on such a day?

    1. thanks for The comment. Radar is not only a low visibility tool. A radar is a tool that allows you to see beyond your position and see beyond your eyes horizon.

      Radars are mounted above you (or should be) and let’s you see things you can’t see well with our limited eyes. One great thing to use radar for is to spot bad weather and storms coming.

      Raymarine’s new Quantum radar is a 10 times better implementation as it does both wires and wireless in same box. I’m not saying the radar is better as I have not tried it. But implementation makes more sense.

      Furuno’s implementation makes zero sense unless you are a gear head who just want to show off what your tablet can do.

  2. >> Furuno’s implementation makes zero sense unless you are a gear head who just want to show off what your tablet can do

    Not so. Think of those who want to integrate a radar signal to something OTHER THAN a standard off-the-shelf chartplotter. For instance, with OpenCPN (and Nobeltec for that matter), you can now overlay the DRS4W radar image on the HD maps, which you couldn’t do before, and can’t do with any other radar dome.

    The Raymarine gives you a ‘wireless’ option, but it still needs to be displayed on a Raymarine chartplotter. The only advantage in that case is not having to lay wire, but you’re still bound to Raymarine, and can’t interface to other displays/programs.

    I guess it’s a matter of preference … some want no-hassle setups where you just plug-and-pray, others are ‘gear heads’ who want to create their own hybrid setups using a variety of programs/modules, many of which are free … and still have a perfectly functional end-product.

    1. Hi Dave,

      I can’t see on OpenCPN that they support DRS4W yet? They support Navico Wired BR/3G/4G and Garmin is ? in development?

      And comments on cruisers forums says it is after the Garmin Radar has been completed (status as per 26/3 on the forum) by my quick glance.

      But an issue with Wireless is – you never know when someone will kill your signal. If you sail in a crowded waterway – with you can have so much interference that even short range stable wifi can’t carry the 500 kbps to 1000 kbps you need to transfer the radar image. So as I said – super idea with wifi – but I still think execution is stupid. It would cost so little extra to provide the OPTION for wire connection as well. We are talking safety equipment and you do not see any sort of serious safety kit running on top of WiFi – it is just not reliable enough and much too easy to jam. (About $5 worth of components and you have a broad spectrum WiFi blocker) – this is why at least for me – any kind of safety device should run on wires. Great with an OPTION for wireless – but not as the “main” bread and butter safety.

      One could have hoped that NMEA got OneNet (Ethernet NMEA 2000) done and implemented for cross network implementations – but the NMEA self set deadline has long gone and passed without any news since 2012.

      As I often write – I do not like closed standards and I do consider NMEA 2000 a very closed standard despite their claims to the opposite. I am a backer of iKommunicate gateway – and SignalK might be a way forward. But we need wires for safety until we have broad spectrum frequency hopping wireless protocol for safety with packet delivery guarantees that cant be jammed easily and does not get overcrowded when you enter an active harbor or sail down along a set of residential blocks in inland waterways. Until then Wifi only “safety devices” should only be considered as a “toy”

  3. >> OpenCPN

    You seem to be right on that point. I expected they would have finished by now … they raised the required $1,000 thru crowdfunding back in 2012 to fund this development. I assumed that was done. My bad. But the Nobeltec implementation is definitely there, and having good traction in the sailing/cruising community.

    >> you never know when someone will kill your signal (About $5 worth of components and you have a broad spectrum WiFi blocker)

    Hmmm … I wonder if we’re not being overly paranoid here? I doubt there’s anyone out there actively spending $5 to build a WiFi jammer on the off-chance someone on the water has a WiFi radar they can tamper with? I couldn’t agree more that a WIRED OPTION would be appreciated, but even then the DRS4W would STILL BE the only open platform radome that can be used with iPhone, iPad, Nobel, etc … a benefit to many sailors.

    >> But we need wires for safety until we have broad spectrum frequency hopping wireless protocol for safety with packet delivery guarantees that cant be jammed easily and does not get overcrowded when you enter an active harbor or sail down along a set of residential blocks in inland waterways

    The problem you describe above isn’t that far off from the chaos we have VHF radio today, is it? We don’t have wires, frequency hopping or message delivery guarantees … and we (mostly) manage just fine. Jamming there doesn’t even cost $5 … just key and hold your mic open for a few minutes and see how many people you can annoy.

    >> Until then Wifi only “safety devices” should only be considered as a “toy”

    You mileage may vary, but 6 people I know (and probably hundreds of others I don’t know) have had this kit since 2014, and have used it very successfully in crowded waterways as well as open ocean. The new Guard-zone feature in the latest version of the app will only make it even more usable as a safety device.

    Anyway ADMIN … good chatting :). I sense this ‘debate’ could continue here for a very long time. Would much rather buy you a beer on a hot balmy day and chew the fat.

    Fair winds, take care.

  4. Appreciate comments both ways here – most informative.

    I have a non-current model chartplotter I am happy with and would like radar but without buying another expensive multi-function display unit. Seems this wifi radar system and my old unused iPad would be cost effective.

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