I honestly just wrote over a ten thousand word response to this thread, breaking down the NSS, NSE, c/e Series, Furuno, Garmin, along with stories for each manufacturer and how they've either earned praise or do not belong on a boat. I hit control + X, which closed the browser, down, and I lost it all. I literally have been writing for an hour and a half. Aside from wanting to throw my computer through the wall, I figured it may have been fate, as who wants to read a book when they can just read the cliffs notes. So here we go.
I had quoted Plowin's comment about Navico and their 'Send It to Mexico, and We'll Send it Back, Still Broken' with laughter, as it is a true story, and I had to deal with it on multiple jobs to the point where we wouldn't touch anything Navico other than their autopilots. However, they hired some key guys, including Lou Chemi (designed the C and E-Series at Raymarine) to run the show, and Brian Gifford who is the National Warranty Manager who literally works in the Tech Support Trenches, listening in and jumping at each chance to fix a problem. They have really managed to turn things around, and have some great products and the support to go with it. They're gunning to reach the Furuno level of product support, and spending a TON of money to make it happen, see the Five Year Advantage Program. (I detailed the program in the earlier post, but not this time. Maybe if someone replies with a question about it.)
Raymarine has also thrived since their acquisition by FLIR, as FLIR pumped big money into R&D to produce the new Hybrid e-Series and c-Series, new instrument displays, and dropped their pricing to compete with the Garmin junk of the world. (Also went on a Garmin rant about the mass produced Twinkie products and shitty warranty support, but I'll leave that out too. I'll simply say, their smaller units, the 740S and smaller, are decent affordable units that serve a boater that isn't going far, but their larger networked displays and devices have major malfunction issues. Google "GMR Error Code" and read about other people's pain.)
Getting to the displays, I will say I actually prefer the NSE to the NSS, as I will admit to liking buttons on a machine, especially the quick soft-keys to switch to Chart/Radar/Sounder/Etc. It's a more robust machine than the NSS, and obviously has its advantages when it comes to the 4G radar and expanded networks. The NSS I feel shines when looked at next to Garmin's aging line of touch-screen displays, as it is a fast, crisp, easy to learn system that can still be used as a dual-display setup, can utilize the BSM-2 CHIRP sonar as well as the broadband radar, making it an ideal solution for many different types of boating.
Raymarine's e-Series, the HybridTouch, has been very popular since the introduction of the e7D, which blew the doors of the 740S and I feel goes toe to toe with the NSS Series. We have done a TON of e-Series installations, major networked systems to standalone units, and have not had ONE product failure. Knock on wood, but that is an incredible track record. I cannot say the same for their pilots, as we all know that when it comes to pilots, it's Simrad. I don't care how flashy the display is, the system needs to work properly, and in every sea condition. One thing I like most about the Raymarine system is the additional button controls, providing the ability to control the unit in so many different ways, allowing for an easier learning curve to people who have never used a touch-unit before, and it truly is a Hybrid system. Raymarine's CHIRP is also VERY impressive when compared to the BSM-2, although the built in sonar is also very strong if fishing less than 1K feet, just like the built-in sonar's of the NSS7 and NSS8. Both the Simrad and Raymarine offerings use the Navionics charts, which I feel need a bit of a refresh, but are constantly being updated and accuracy is the key to charts, otherwise they're useless. Both have outstanding radar, however you have to compare Ray's 'HD Color' to the BR24 3G/4G to get a more apples to apples comparison. However, Raymarine's HD Open Array I feel has significantly better resolution both at range and up close. Simrad's OA's serve their purpose, but on multiple installations we ended up installing both a Broadband Dome for close range, and an open array for birds and weather detection. Another thousand, but every client has said it was worth it as soon as they got stuck in the soup.
Not mentioned above, but of course deserving mention, is the Furuno NavNet3D and TZTouch. We have installed more Furuno MFDs than we have Raymarine e's or NSS's combined, and almost always in a multiple station, full radar/high performance sounder package. We've done multiple radars, multiple Black Boxes, even 6 GPS sensors on one boat, and from my fingers to God's ears, have NEVER had a problem. The units are bulletproof. Even though the NavNet3D system is 'old' compared to the units out today, I would still put an MFD12 on my boat if in fact I owned one right now. Between the NOAA Raster charts, the incredible radar, and DFF1 and DFF3 sounders, there is not a more complete package available, EXCEPT of course the TZTouch. There is not even a comparison among the reps, the technical dealers, between the TZT units and anything else on the market. It's simply the fastest, easiest system to use, and surprisingly to me, very touch-friendly. Furuno really broke the mold of being a difficult system to master when they introduced the TimeZero engine and NN3D OS, compared to the utilitarian NavNet Vx2s. However they managed to still improve on the NN3D OS with the TZT, and actually built the unit for modern warfare. There is a reason the TZTouch systems carry such a high price tag, one of them is that Furuno Electric in Japan designed the system literally to MilSpec, MIL-STD-202. The system is actually qualified to DEFENSE standards in terms of shock, vibration, etc! This is no iPad, yet it's just as easy and fun to use. This unit right now is King, and Furuno has earned it's seat at the throne through their continued support of new AND ancient systems to the end user. Anyone who has ever dealt with Furuno's Support Team will attest, and I could go on for hours with different stories, and I am just in awe that the company that is clearly on top of the game, still makes sure to take care of the guy who bought their product 25 years ago, rather than to just say 'Buy a New One.' Reliability is the number one factor to me when 'rating' marine electronics, because it doesn't matter how many bells and whistles a unit has, if it doesn't work when you're 100 miles offshore, it's as worthless as the box it came in.
Thanks for reading.