New Gear – September 2006

The maker of the SensiBulb boast that it has the warm color, intensity, and beam width of a 10-watt halogen—“close enough” in my testing—plus the cool operation, low draw, and long life of an LED. The basic $40 “bulb” fits as is into most dome lights, and accessories enable retrofitting to many reading lamps. Typical current usage of .14 amp can be reduced to .025 amp by using the built-in dimmer with an optional $20 controller. Various complete SensiBulb lighting fixtures are also available. Sailor’s Solutions; 631-754-1945,

Port Networks MWB
Port Networks’s approach to maximized marine WiFi is to minimize coaxial loss by packing a high-powered radio and 5.5-dB antenna into a waterproof box for deployment on deck whenever you’re docked or moored. Both power and signal run through a no-loss 25-foot Ethernet cable. While the $349 MWB-200 will usually find the best available WiFi signal automatically, complete control software is accessible via any Web browser. In several areas tested, the MWB worked well when normal WiFi failed. Note that this unit does require 110-volt AC power, but that it can be used most anywhere (such as in a hotel when you’re not cruising). Port Networks;

Olympus Stylus
720 SW

This is one tough tiny camera. I dunked it into Boston Harbor, even photographed the muck, rinsed it under the tap, and it’s still snapping photos. Olympus’s Stylus 720 SW is shockproof, has a 3X zoom lens, and takes digital photos as large as 7.1 megapixels. Moreover, it offers 28 shooting modes, ranging from standards like “portrait” to more-esoteric operations like shooting “through glass.” However, serious photographers may miss conventional shutter-speed and F-stop controls and may find that photos taken with the $399 720 SW aren’t quite as sharp as those from some comparably sized cameras. Olympus America; 888-553-4448,

Pocket Navigator
for Smartphone

Pocket Navigator’s latest 5.0 release can run on “Smartphones”— cellphones using the Windows Mobile operating system. The test unit worked nicely with a Bluetooth wireless GPS, its 1-gigabyte memory card offered ample raster-chart storage, and the keypad-driven interface was good enough for backup plotting. But what’s really impressive is how the Pocket Navigator easily fetches and overlays NOAA radar data, as shown. No subscription is needed, little bandwidth is used, and animation is “coming soon.” The Pocket Navigator comes bundled with the full Memory-Map Navigator for $100 (or in stripped-down form from Maptech for $50). Memory-Map; 607-532-4122,

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