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Old 24-03-2020, 11:10   #1
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Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

I have now used the DRS4W for a cruise from the Virgin Islands to Trinidad. As a trained radar operator I can state that this radar is useless for collision avoidance which is the primary purpose of radar. It has no usable EBL that one would normally use to track an approaching vessel. There is a great little curser that can be set by tapping the screen. This can be run out to a target to note bearing and distance. But this disappears in a few seconds. If this was to stay in place one could track the bearing of the approaching vessel. If the vessel continues down the line, that is a constant bearing situation with decreasing range. COLLISION! But sadly their curser (EBL and VRM combined) doesn’t stay on.
Sadly his would be a simple software fix, but after contacting Furuno they are not interesting in making the change. Because this is an “inexpensive System”.
Also, to make the radar easier to use Furuno has dialed back the gain on rain and sea clutter. It actually does a good job of eliminating all the clutter so large land masses are see able. But a large incoming squall at 6 miles is not even visible on the screen. Neither are small sailboats with radar reflectors at 2 miles. I also did a test with Sail Rock off St Thomas. A solid 128’ high rock and the DRS4W could not pick it up at 8 miles. I also could not see the island of St Bart’s when 7.5miles out (see photo). Now if you could back off on the sea clutter a bit more you could probably see this target. Of course you would have some more screen noise, but the target would be also visible. The manual adjustment available does not go anywhere close to usable.
So, collision avoidance and weather, two primary uses for radar are basically none existent on this unit. Plus more than a few miles out you can’t even pick up an island. See photo.

I do not recommend the radar or the app.
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Old 24-03-2020, 12:02   #2
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

I was looking at this radar, as a backup and just cool thing to have. Unfortunately, a friend of mine who is an electronics installer on boats, said basically the same thing you just said, and talked me out of it.

That was his thought. A good idea, that wasn't quite ready for prime time.
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Old 24-03-2020, 12:09   #3
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

Quote:
Originally Posted by seacap View Post
I have now used the DRS4W for a cruise from the Virgin Islands to Trinidad. As a trained radar operator I can state that this radar is useless for collision avoidance which is the primary purpose of radar. It has no usable EBL that one would normally use to track an approaching vessel. There is a great little curser that can be set by tapping the screen. This can be run out to a target to note bearing and distance. But this disappears in a few seconds. If this was to stay in place one could track the bearing of the approaching vessel. If the vessel continues down the line, that is a constant bearing situation with decreasing range. COLLISION! But sadly their curser (EBL and VRM combined) doesn’t stay on.
Sadly his would be a simple software fix, but after contacting Furuno they are not interesting in making the change. Because this is an “inexpensive System”.
Also, to make the radar easier to use Furuno has dialed back the gain on rain and sea clutter. It actually does a good job of eliminating all the clutter so large land masses are see able. But a large incoming squall at 6 miles is not even visible on the screen. Neither are small sailboats with radar reflectors at 2 miles. I also did a test with Sail Rock off St Thomas. A solid 128’ high rock and the DRS4W could not pick it up at 8 miles. I also could not see the island of St Bart’s when 7.5miles out (see photo). Now if you could back off on the sea clutter a bit more you could probably see this target. Of course you would have some more screen noise, but the target would be also visible. The manual adjustment available does not go anywhere close to usable.
So, collision avoidance and weather, two primary uses for radar are basically none existent on this unit. Plus more than a few miles out you can’t even pick up an island. See photo.

I do not recommend the radar or the app.

I see no “ clutter “ on the screen

It’s s perfectly clear screen

Does the unit have manual gain , rain , sea state adjustments
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Old 24-03-2020, 12:57   #4
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

I consider a Navico 4G the entry-level basic radar. Next step up, for doing extensive radar watch, the Doppler scanners (i.e. B&G HALO).

You can use these scanners with OpenCPN, no need to buy their plotters/displays although when at sale they offer attractive packages.

For sailboats, get the B&G versions as they come with longer cables. Motorboats probably want the Simrad versions.

Other brands have similar units but make sure they work good with OpenCPN

BTW even though I am a radar freak (worked in the industry as well as operator license) I opted for the simple 4G scanner as it is good enough for us now that we have AIS etc.
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Old 24-03-2020, 13:25   #5
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

Quote:
Originally Posted by slug View Post
I see no “ clutter “ on the screen

It’s s perfectly clear screen

Does the unit have manual gain , rain , sea state adjustments
Yes, it does have manual. I was in manual and had the gain all the way up. Automatic is even worse. It seems there goal was no clutter at the expense of actually seeing targets.
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Old 25-03-2020, 10:13   #6
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

So, if I'm buying a new radar system, which is the current best? I know now that Furuno is not what I'm looking for. And, from experience, Garmin is out. Navico is also out. How about Raymarine? Comments?
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Old 25-03-2020, 10:17   #7
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

The higher end Furuno radars are very well regarded. The DRS4W is specifically a (very) low budget, entry level radar.

For the newer tech radars, everything I've seen points to the Furuno NXT line and the Navico Halo line being the best of them.
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Old 25-03-2020, 11:06   #8
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

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Originally Posted by rslifkin View Post
The higher end Furuno radars are very well regarded. The DRS4W is specifically a (very) low budget, entry level radar.

For the newer tech radars, everything I've seen points to the Furuno NXT line and the Navico Halo line being the best of them.
I have never used this model

But I have used furuno equipment for decades

High quality

I refuse to believe that Furuno would ruin its reputation by marketing a substandard piece of equipment

The OP should speak with a furuno technician and find out what’s wrong with his system
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Old 25-03-2020, 11:10   #9
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

So maybe we need a radar review thread.

I agree with your assessment but would like to learn which one offers the best performance / price. I hate buying based on marketing only to find that the unit would be poor at collision avoidance or weather.

What is your recommendation?
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Old 25-03-2020, 11:15   #10
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

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Originally Posted by StoneCrab View Post
So maybe we need a radar review thread.

I agree with your assessment but would like to learn which one offers the best performance / price. I hate buying based on marketing only to find that the unit would be poor at collision avoidance or weather.

What is your recommendation?
Many good radars available

Furuno is first class

I prefer stand alone radar

Not the chart plotter type

I have never had a radar fail

I have gone thru a dozen different chartplotter display systems
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Old 25-03-2020, 11:21   #11
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

Quote:
Originally Posted by slug View Post
I have never used this model

But I have used furuno equipment for decades

High quality

I refuse to believe that Furuno would ruin its reputation by marketing a substandard piece of equipment

The OP should speak with a furuno technician and find out what’s wrong with his system

It's not so much that it's substandard, just a less expensive, less capable radar for those with more minimal needs. As far as I know, it's the only complete radar setup that sells for under $1000. The expected performance is somewhat indicated by the specs, such as 7.2* horizontal beamwidth.
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Old 25-03-2020, 11:57   #12
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

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Originally Posted by seacap View Post
Sadly his would be a simple software fix, but after contacting Furuno they are not interesting in making the change. Because this is an “inexpensive System”....
So, collision avoidance and weather, two primary uses for radar are basically none existent on this unit. Plus more than a few miles out you can’t even pick up an island.
Thanks for the review, good to know. My "gut feeling" after the BOOT (Düsseldorf) already said that Furuno would become too expensive for me if I want good quality (NXT). Thus --> everything Furuno fell out of consideration.

At some point I need to replace my old JRC radar; the choice now seems to be either Quantum or Halo, maybe Navico 4G. They all seem to provide good quality (?).

1. The Quantum together with Raymarine Element would be my current favorite. But afaik Quantum doesn't work with OpenCPN. Thus --> no!

2. The next best option is either Halo or 4G with the Vulcan plotter (or Zeus3 despite its $$$ price). Afaik both these radars work with OpenCPN. Thus --> yes
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Old 25-03-2020, 13:32   #13
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

I think all Navico radars (so also the HALO series) work with OpenCPN. Also, I think Garmin works with OpenCPN?

Basically all new radars are stand-alone. Out comes Ethernet, you plug it into your network and there you go. Furuno scanners work with TimeZero software, also on iPad. When buying new I would only buy what is supported by OpenCPN.

The B&G 4G and HALO units are pretty good for sailboats. If you want a fixed screen then a Vulcan display is cheap and plug & play.

Edit: looked it up, Garmin or Navico: https://opencpn.org/wiki/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=opencpnpencpn_user_manuallugins:ai s_radar:br24_radar:faq_radar
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Old 25-03-2020, 14:46   #14
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

Quote:
Originally Posted by slug View Post
I have never used this model

But I have used furuno equipment for decades

High quality

I refuse to believe that Furuno would ruin its reputation by marketing a substandard piece of equipment

The OP should speak with a furuno technician and find out what’s wrong with his system
I have and they just blow me off. Tell me it’s an inexpensive Radar and to live with it. I have used Furunos for years as a professional and always had a high regard for the products. Their 1623 at $1295 is a better radar. At least it has a functioning EBL for tracking targets. The DRS4W is not particularly cheap if you add in a $800 iPad to run it.
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Old 25-03-2020, 15:00   #15
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Re: Review Furuno DRS4W Radar 4 iPad

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Originally Posted by rslifkin View Post
It's not so much that it's substandard, just a less expensive, less capable radar for those with more minimal needs. As far as I know, it's the only complete radar setup that sells for under $1000. The expected performance is somewhat indicated by the specs, such as 7.2* horizontal beamwidth.
You have to have an iPad to run it. Bumps the price up another $800
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