I have a four year old smaller Spectra (the Catalina) with the fancy controls. It's been trouble free. While I'm sure that the electronics could fail, I think operator failure (me) with a manual system is far more likely. Besides remembering to do a flush the electronics also monitors the water flow and filter condition and shuts the unit down (with an alarm) to avoid damage to the pump. Clogged filters are the primary headache of a watermaker - in some waters with lots of plankton (Maine) I get only four hours before cleaning
is needed. Someone - either you or the electonics - has to keep a regular watch of the filters whenever the system is running. You will usually be running the watermaker underway when there are a lot of things besides the watermaker to watch.
As mentioned, the Spectra is remarkably quiet. Mine replaced an AC driven unit that was very loud. In the salon
the old one was as loud as the engine
(admittedly the engine was behind a lot of sound proofing). I typically run my watermaker for 3 hours. The noise
can really get to you.
Also, as noted, the new Newport has a couple of great features I wish were on my Catalina
. The fresh water flush goes both ways, into the unit and back through the strainer. This should keep stuff from growing in the intake hose if you don't run it every day. It also has a second feed pump that should keep the intake pressure good and high. When I first installed my Catalina
I wasn't getting the full rated output. Spectra technical support (which was very good) had me shorten and straighten the intake hose. This probably wouldn't have been needed if there had been a feed pump.
Finally, if the controls ever failed I could easily rewire my Catalina around the controls and run manually. I carry a hand salinity probe for just this eventuality.