I was lucky enough to get a RC400 and a Garmin 76CS as gifts in August 2005.
There seems to be a number of discussions on various forums about the pros and cons of these units so I thought I would give my experiences of using both while sailing in the English Channel for the past 2 years.
RC400- the Pros:
1. I have limited space at the helm of my 32ft yacht so I have a mounted the RC400 there since there is no room for anything larger. This makes the RC400 a great choice and it fits well.
2. The colour screen is good and is legible even in pouring rain
3. The screen can be turned down at night and does not interfere with night vision like some of my friend’s larger consoles such as the Raymarine C80 and larger.
4. I have installed a power cable and do not rely on the batteries while on passage.
5. I can see a high quality chart at the helm, without going below to see my main chart plotter which is the Raymarine C120 at the nav table.
6. It has its own GPS so it is another backup for position data separate from my main GPS / C120 setup.
7. The Navionics Gold chart is excellent and is compatible with the C120 unit I use at the nav table.
RC400- the Cons:
1. I agree with those who say that the unit eats batteries. The 2300mAh batteries hardly last 1 hour and mine no longer hold a charge. I have now bought 2500mAh batteries – but will still use it on power from the yacht while I am on passage.
2. Interfacing is useless. It does not interface using Seatalk so I cannot connect it to the C120. Although both the C120 and the RC400 have import/export functions for waypoint data – I have not been able to make this work by exporting from the C120 to a Sandisk and then importing to the RC400.
3. I have not tried interfacing with NMEA data since all my instruments are Raymarine and are outputting Seatalk as is the C120.
4. The batteries do expire rapidly. Apparently it is using current even when it is off. The original 2300mAH AA batteries are all dead now and won’t accept a charge. I have just bought 4 x 2500mAH batteries and a fast charger – so I will see how I get on with those. But to be honest – I have mains power connected to the RC400 at the helm so it is fine on passage and the built in battery charger keeps topping up the batteries while on passage.
5. The GPS seems to lose position at least once on passage – I have a feeling this is a glitch in the software or firmware since my other two GPS units never lose position. Turning the unit off and on seems to correct the issue.
6. Raymarine have discontinued this unit – so no more support. They must have their reasons.