While the radios may be identical hardware
, I don't know if the Simrad version of the radio
is identical in software
[firmware] to the B&G version, and for that reason I would be cautious mixing Navico
sub-brands... [I haven't researched this...]
For example, we went with B&G MFD [Zeus T8] because the firmware includes the Sail Steer capability that is only available in B&G hardware
[firmware...] last I knew.
We also have the B&G V50 VHF Radio
and wireless mike, and they all work flawlessly together on the N2K network.
The possibility for using slightly different firmware on the different Navico
sub-brands exists. I don't know if this the case for the radio in question.
I can say it is nice to be able to upgrade the firmware on the radio, MFD, RADAR
, etc. ourselves. But this is not always the case; the version of the wireless mike that we have [H50] requires returning it to an authorized dealer for upgrades to stay in sync with the radio firmware updates. For us that means mailing it and waiting... [We have only had to do that once in 2 years...]
I can also say [with B&G anyway] that we feel a bit abandoned when they release a new model. By that I mean they seem to stop releasing firmware updates for the prior generation(s?) after a new model is available.
In our case, we held out as long as we could in mid 2014 waiting for the Zeus2 [Z2] release, and ended up with the prior generation. [Zeus Touch- ZT- which we have no qualms with...] We haven't seen a new firmware release for the ZT since the Z2 was released [v2.0 for ZT was released 29-Aug-2014.] During that time B&G has released several updates for the Z2, the most recent being v4 on 16-Aug-2016.
This could be perhaps because the Z2 needed the updates and the ZT did not... but I am doubtful. The Zeus 3 release will happen in 2017. I will be watching to see if this trend continues...
By way of comparison, our 5+ year old Vesper Watchmate 850 AIS
transponder still receives routine firmware updates [with new features] from the manufacturer- despite having released two more advanced models since then.
I fully understand new hardware begets new capabilities, and that prior generations will not be compatible with all new features in the future. My concern is, while the hardware may be robust and provide years of service
, will they release minor firmware updates to take advantage of new functionality [or bug fixes...] the older hardware does support, or will they force us to upgrade our electronics
prematurely at some point by obsoleting our firmware through non-support?
I mention all this to reinforce that these user-upgradable electronics
are only upgradable as long as the 'manufacturer' releases updates for our models... I expect electronics to become less functional, and even obsolete eventually- but not necessarily with each new model release...
Best wishes deciding what is best for your needs.