Here are a few gadgets that would look great wrapped up for the holidays:
The Nest Wireless Camera with Remote Smartphone App $200 - Using your boat or marina wifi, you can monitor your boat systems using your smartphone. The camera provides super clear 1080p HD video and comes with advanced night vision and 8X digital zoom. It also has a microphone and speaker. The Nest Cam includes Nest Aware with video history that saves 10 days of continuous footage in the cloud. If you need more coverage, there is a subscription that provides you with a cloud recording service that allows you to rewind up to 30 days. The new and improved Nest App allows one step viewing of your camera as well as the ability to add additional Nest products like a smoke or carbon monoxide detector. nest.com
HP Stream Mini $250 - Last year HP came out with a $250 laptop called the HP Stream 11, we tested it and found it to be a really good, all round computer and, as an added bonus, it comes in a beautiful shade of boater’s blue. Their newest product, the HP Stream Mini, puts an entire computer tower into a tiny, 2.9-pound desktop. The processor in the Mini is a newer more efficient Haswell chip and includes two USB 3.0 inputs, full-size HDMI, DisplayPort, Bluetooth, audio jack, Ethernet jack and an SD card adapter. It ships with a wired keyboard and mouse and would be a great addition for a boater who has wireless and a TV but no computer. It runs Windows and can easily stream video (Netflix) or photos to your HDMI-compatible TV. hp.com
Plews Auto Shut Off Plastic Battery Filler $15 - Nothing extends the life of your flooded batteries like regular maintenance. This two-quart battery filler shuts off automatically when the battery cell is at the proper level, eliminating the possibility of over filling. It also features a double action, fast flow valve tip that prevents after-drip.
Attwood Rechargeable Fan $120 - This rechargeable, lightweight 12-inch fan has three operating speeds and can move 424 cubic feet of air per minute. The best part is it can be powered by a 12-volt accessory cable, a 110 volt to 12 volt adapter or by the built-in/rechargeable NiMH LSD battery pack. The battery charge time is 3.5 hours and, because of its low 1.1 amp draw, the fan can run for up to 7 hours on the lowest setting. This fan would have come in handy at Pirate’s Cove this summer when there was no breeze to be found. attwoodmarine.com
Sun Covers $50 - Electronics can be seriously damaged by extended exposure to sun and salt. If your original cover has gone missing, you can contact your equipment dealer and order a replacement cover. For instance, Garmin provides GPSMAP covers for as little as $14. If you would prefer a custom cover, perhaps for your wall-mount TV, many of our clients have ordered on-line at digitaldeckcovers.com. The covers are made of water-resistant nylon with PVC vinyl backing and are available in royal blue, black and silver. digitaldeckcovers.com.
Fusion Marine Bluetooth Module MS-BT100 $45 - The Fusion BT100, allows you to add Bluetooth functionality to your existing stereo. Unlike other Bluetooth modules, the BT100 includes integrated marine voltage protection to protect against voltage spikes. The BT100 works with most stereos that have RCA auxiliary inputs. It features direct media device control allowing you to easily select tracks, album, artist or playlist with an effective range of 10 metres. Along with your own music list, you can now stream music services like Radio Paradise, Pandora and iTunes radio. fusionentertainment.com
Dometic Eskimo Cup $200 - This is the perfect gift for a boater who has everything. The Eskimo Cup is a hard-wired drink cooler that promises to keep the last sip as cold as the first. With a retail cost of over $200, this product seemed a bit extravagant, until you consider the amount of ice required over a season. This “mini-fridge” cup holder has an aluminum interior with a corrosion-resistant non-stick surface and a built-in drain. dometic.com
A Small 300W Inverter $300 - If you have attended a PYS presentation you know that we always say “turn your inverter off when you aren’t using it.” The average inverter draws 1–2 amps per hour even when there is no draw, this translates to almost 10 to 20 aH while you sleep. A small inverter plugged into a cigarette lighter can easily charge your cell phone, laptop or hand held radio. Remember to choose a pure or true sine over a modified sine. A pure sign is a direct replica of the power in your house, it is more efficient and works with new devices such as camera batteries, laptops, etc. We recommend the Victron 300W true sine wave inverter (with two AC outlets). victronenergy.com
Smart Plug $250–$350 - We have talked about the Smart Plug many times but if you want to do something nice for your boat and your peace of mind, this is the gift for you. The Smart Plug replaces the outdated, yellow, twist-type shore power cord to provide greater protection against loose connections and corrosion, which are the leading causes of shore power failure and fires. Even though it is possible to retrofit an existing AC cable, we recommend purchasing a cable with the molded Smart Plug already manufactured. The 30-amp plug retails for around $250 and the 50-amp is $350. Check with your insurance provider as most will offer a discount with proof of installation. smartplug.com
Night vision - The FLIR MD625 fixed-mount thermal night vision camera is a high performance pan/tilt/zoom system designed to help you navigate in low-light situations. Awarded the NMEA Best Specialty Award, the MD625 is simple to install, easy to control and has a standard video signal that displays on any monitor with an auxiliary video input. This camera is available at Roton on Granville Island and retails for $6,500.flir.com
Marseille 4K HDMI Cable Converter $180–$200 - We were recently introduced to a new product called the Marseille 4K HDMI Cable Converter or mCable which allows you to view your regular content on a 4K TV (also called Ultra HD or UHD). This cable can enhance and upscale 1080p to 4K quality but it is also able to transform 480p and 720p to 1080p HD quality. This is great news if you have a 4K TV on your boat but even if you don’t, you can dramatically increase the video quality of your existing TV. As an added bonus, it will work with most source devices including Blu-Ray/DVD players, Apple TV, set-top boxes and video game consoles. The mCable has a built-in processor that filters and enhances the video content before it reaches your TV, giving you incredibly clean and sharp images. It is the only upscaling cable that has been certified by Technicolor. marseilleinc.com
About the author: Jeff Cote is a systems design engineer and owner of Pacific Yacht Systems, a full service shop delivering marine electrical and navigation solutions for recreational boats. Visit their website and blog for info and articles on marine electrical systems, projects and more: www.pysystems.ca.