The Furuno GP-33 is a new release WAAS-enabled non-mapping GPS navigator that displays loads of useful navigation information on a high-resolution 4.3-inch color screen.
The GP-33 package ships with the display unit, protective display front cover, tilt-only mounting bracket, GPS antenna with a 10-meter cable, operators manual, quick start guide, and a combination NMEA2000 data/power cable.
The GP-33 is unique in that the accompanying power/data cable is actually a NMEA2000 network cable. If your vessel already has an N2K backbone installed aboard the GP-33 will plug right in and both supply the navigator with power and interface GPS data with the network. This is the first piece of marine electronics I have reviewed that was setup in this fashion.
To connect power to the GP-33 as a standalone unit, not connected to an N2K network, requires cutting the network connector off the supplied power/data cable and then connecting the power source to the black and red wires only.
I measured the Furuno GP-33 display unit at 5.0-inches high by 5.7-inches wide and just under 3-inches deep.
A removable front panel makes for easy flush mounting. Furuno supplies a tool to remove the front panel and a gasket to be placed between the unit and the panel. All the needed hardware is included too.
A single cable that fastens to the case back with a threaded connector supplies power to the display unit from a NMEA2000 network as well as interfacing GP-33 data with the network. The unit will also interface with certain NMEA0183 devices including radar, sounder, autopilot, and a personal computer using two ports and an optional data cable.
The Furuno GP-33 uses an external GPS sensor that connects to the display back with a threaded connector. We used the supplied external sensor for this review.
Screen Size and Viewability
The GP-33 is equipped with a 3.7-inch wide by 2.1-inch high display screen that measures 4.3-inches on the diagonal and carries 480 by 272 pixels of resolution.
I found the Furuno GP-33 display screen to be bright, sharp, and generally easy to read. When viewed straight-on the screen maintains its brightness when a user is wearing polarized sunglasses, however at steep side angles it darkened somewhat. I rated this Furuno GPS navigator excellent for daylight viewability. No screen fogging was apparent in the display at anytime.
Screen and key brightness can be set to one of eight levels using the cursor pad arrows. Each continuous press of the brilliance button changes the screen brightness one level. The lowest setting takes the screen to black. Button backlighting is crisp and makes the buttons easy to use in a dark cockpit. I rated the display excellent for night viewing.
The Furuno GP-33 GPS navigator uses six pushbuttons and a cursor pad to manipulate onscreen menus and control functions.
A user can select from one of seven main pages. They are Plotter, Highway, Steering, Navigation, Satellite and two different user configurable pages.
The plotter page shows the vessel, lat/long grid, tracks, waypoints, course bar, and the route to a waypoint. As one would expect of a non-mapping GPS navigator the plotter page has no chart details. Data boxes surrounding the plotter window show the scale, range and bearing to cursor, and boat or cursor position.
Highway, steering, and navigation pages show alternative variations of navigation data. In my opinion, the highway page offers the most sophisticated batch of data for a helmsman to steer the ship. The steering page features a bearing tape and data boxes while the navigation page is dominated by large numerical lat/long coordinates with a pair of data boxes on the bottom quarter of the screen.
The satellite page gives you azimuth and signal strength of each satellite, receiver status, and a DOP value. User configurable pages can be viewed as pure data boxes, analog speedometer plus data, or analog course over ground and data.
When the menu button is pressed once from most pages, the main menu list will appear onscreen. From here the user would use the cursor and enter key to move around the menu and select items. In plotter or highway mode the first press of the menu/zoom button opens a range adjustment window and a second press takes you to the menu.
A waypoint is built at the boat position easily with a single press of the waypoint key. Once created, you can select the waypoint on the plotter page with the cursor and edit the waypoint name, position information, symbol, and color. You can also add a comment up to 13 characters in length.
You navigate to a waypoint by selecting it from the plotter page or waypoint list. Once executed a blue line with directional arrows to the waypoint is drawn onscreen from your present position.
Waypoints are identified with a name, limited to eight characters, and one of 10 symbols using one of 7 colors. The GP-33 can store up to 10000 individual waypoints. I doubt many mariners have that many waypoints in their navigation or fishing lists.
Routes are created using the menu and waypoint list. The procedure works as follows; you create a new route, name it, and then select waypoints as desired. It is really quite simple and straightforward. Routes are listed on their own page where each point on the route is listed with bearings and distances between each. Route waypoints can be edited here too. The GP-33 can store up to 100 routes with as many as 30 waypoints in each one.
Odds and Ends
The man overboard function of the GP-33 is activated by pressing and holding the MOB key and then hitting enter to navigate back to the MOB position. Once activated the unit switches to plotter screen and shows the helmsman both numerical and graphical navigation data back to the MOB.
The GP-33 can be set to create a waypoint automatically every time a course change takes place. The user can set certain parameters for the amount of course change change required to execute the automatic construction of a waypoint. This could be useful on trip for tracking back along the same route.
The GP-33 is a basic GPS navigator that lies somewhere between a handheld and a full blown chartplotter in functionality. As a basic navigator this unit is easy to use, has a nice bright screen, and wont break the bank. It carries a 2-year warranty on both parts and labor.