The Raymarine A57D is the mid-size unit of three new A-series chartplotter fishfinder combo units recently released by UK-based marine electronics maker Raymarine.
Our A57D test unit shipped with an internal sounder, internal GPS receiver, and preloaded cartography covering U.S. coastal waters, both mainland coasts, and the Great Lakes. This unit can also use Navionics Gold or Platinum cards in its single card slot.
The display unit measures 8.8-inches wide, 6.3-inches high, and just under 4-inches deep.
At various times we tested the Raymarine A57D using the internal GPS antenna and a Ray125 external sensor, both worked well at plotting position accurately.
We mounted the Raymarine A57D using the supplied bracket. The bracket is beefy, swivels, and allows you to run wires for the display unit hidden inside then out through the bottom. It uses a single lever to lock the unit tilt angle.
Swivel and tilt angles use preset positions and none of them worked perfectly for our setup. In the end we decided the mounting bracket was overly complex and did not meet our needs well. Wed look to flush mount this unit on our own boat. Hardware for flush-mounting is supplied.
Power and NMEA 0183 data pass through a single cable that fastens to the case back with a twist lock connector. There are two additional cable connectors on the back; one provides a transducer hookup and the other is a next generation Raymarine SeaTalk connection. SeaTalk is now an N2K compliant network.
The Raymarine A57D has a pair of NMEA 0183 ports and either or both can be set to normal or high-speed mode. We tested the A57D connectivity with an external GPS antenna and an AIS unit. One required a normal NMEA 0183 connection while the other needed a NMEA 0183 high-speed connection. We found the Raymarine unit performed well with both units.
Screen Size and Viewability
The Raymarine A57D display screen uses a landscape layout and measures 4.5-inches wide and 3.3-inhces high. On the diagonal it is 5.7-inches and carries a 640 by 480 pixel screen resolution. This combination provides for razor sharp, clearly readable onscreen details. We rated day viewability on the Raymarine display screen good. However the screen is not quite as bright as some weve seen.
One thing we noticed: The resolution is so high for the size of the screen youll need to have good eyes and get close to see all the detail. When viewed straight on through polarized sunglasses the screen darkens a bit. At steep side angles, youll notice it darkens significantly. There is a small of amount of screen reflectivity. No screen fogging was apparent in the display at anytime.
The A57D has two screen palette settings for viewing the chart page, day and night. A screen brightness level slider appears onscreen when the power button is pushed momentarily. The arrow keys adjust the brightness as needed. The Night mode dims the unit significantly and has all the same adjustability as the Day mode. We rated the Raymarine good for night viewability. At night, when viewed from side angles the screen appears to lose colorization and dim somewhat.
The Raymarine A57D has five soft keys, six function pushbuttons, and a trackpad with an OK button in the middle. Soft key functions are page dependent with onscreen labels above each key. The unit can show full screen views of the chart page, fish finder, course deviation indicator with data, and 3D chart data if available. The unit can also display combinations of views in two, three, or four windows. Pressing the Active pushbutton toggles between open windows making each active and bringing the associated soft key functions up onscreen. We found the unit very intuitive and easy to operate.
To create a waypoint you’d press the waypoints function key. This brings up waypoint related soft key functions. The first soft key lets you place a waypoint at the cursor position, the second at the vessel position, and the third by inputting latitude/longitude to a ‘Place Waypoint’ dialog box. The last two soft keys bring you to waypoint lists.
A double press of the waypoints key is a shortcut to create a waypoint at the vessel position. This works from any screen view.
To navigate to a waypoint you first select it from the chart or off a waypoint list, then select the Go To soft key. This puts data boxes up with course and distance to the point, plus shows a course line to follow on the chart page.
One way to build a route in the A57D is by hitting the ‘Navigation Options’ soft key, then choosing ‘Routes’, and ‘Build a New Route’. The cursor is used to place waypoints on the chart as needed. More soft keys let you save the route, edit it, follow it, and reverse course on it. We found it to be a very intuitive and easy to use function.
Odds and Ends
Pressing the MOB function key puts the unit in man overboard mode. An audible alarm sounds and if you are on a chart page the view will automatically zoom into the MOB position. If you are not on a chart page navigation data back to the MOB will only be displayed in the data boxes. A second press of the MOB key takes the unit out the MOB mode.
Onscreen data boxes can be displayed in normal or large on the chart page. Normal has minimal information and wed choose the large mode. It shows cursor position, course/distance to waypoint, vessel position, COG and SOG.
Map details level can be set to automatic or adjusted to different levels by the user. A Declutter soft key function will remove significant detail too without going into the menu structure.
The depth safety contour on the chart can be changed be the user. Since we run a small boat we set it to the minimum setting of seven feet. This turns all water deeper than seven feet white. Doing this improves day viewability a bit in sunny conditions.
Screen redraws on the A57D took several seconds if you changed the range several steps at once. Ranging out always took longer to update the chart than ranging in.
We tried Heading Up, North Up, and Course Up chart orientation on the Raymarine A57D and all worked very well. It responded quickly when turning in the Heading Up and Course Up mode.
Placing the cursor over a service icon then hitting OK will bring up data on the facility. Tide information can be found in the same manner and can also be search by proximity to the vessel or by name.
Sonar can be viewed full screen or in a variety of split screen modes. The Raymarine A57D has four sounder page presets that allow the user to setup specific views based on their preferences. For example, you could setup a page with full screen high frequency, another with high and low in a split screen view, another with high frequency and bottom lock in split screen with A-scope. A number of possibilities exist.
The A57D internal sounder is the most advanced Raymarine fish finder on the market today and is capable of putting out a full 500 watts of power. It has all the features youd want in a fishfinder including dual frequency capability, A-scope, zoom, shift, and bottom lock.
In this screen shot you’ll see the 200 kHz pulse shown on the left side picked up all three of our targets. On the right hand side of the screen the 50 kHz output shows a solid fish arch for the shallow target ball while the two deeper targets don’t show up well.
The unit appeared to do a fine job painting bottom contours and a few large fish that swam under our test boat. We rated the sounder good for presentation.
Commonly changed sounder settings like gain, depth, and zoom mode are handled using soft keys. Pressing the menu button while on an active sounder page will bring up the fish finder menu. We found this unit easy to operate and gave it a good rating for usage.
The Raymarine A57D shows very sharp map details with its high resolution display screen. It is also one of the most intuitive and easy to use chartplotters weve tested. The unit features a 2-year warranty.