I see this heading toward "generic" touch screens with black box processors. Maybe the screens will include hot keys or some sort of actual knob or mouse ball or similar.
Furuno does offer black boxes with many choices of touchscreens (not necessary to be Furuno ones). Most likely others do too - they certainly do in their commercial lines. They also have separate knob/keypad controls if wanted.
Why can't these companies settle on chassis sizes so you are not messing up your cabinets faces or whatever when you change the unit?
That's a tough request. So much is dependent on engineering constraints, marketing desires, etc. For plotters above many other electronics, the consumer would be constrained more with standardized chassis sizes than without. It would also kill innovation because companies would be stuck in a box, so to speak.
Industry did settle on those 4" square display heads... so why not on the main units?
They do look standardized, don't they? Unfortunately, I have yet to meet one that was. Not even from the same company in the same model line. Imagine how pissed I was when B&G gave me a Triton 2 to replace a Triton 1, and I had to completely recut and modify the mount for it. I also changed a Raymarine ST60 to a ST70 and had to glass over and recut a hole. All of these units were extremely close to the same nominal size, but none of them mounted close to the same way. Granted, they don't differ as much as the plotters do, but you will be cutting new hole sizes, or filling in old holes to get a new one to fit.
They settled on (for the time being) N2K network protocols... Whoopie!!!!!!!!!!! Next up will be complete wireless networking.
Maybe, but given the widespread woes with wireless wind instruments, I'm not holding my breath. Certainly, it will be a long time before full-functioned radar is wireless, as well as larger high-bandwidth integrated systems. I'm quite pleased with N2K. Stupid simple to connect, and not much to go wrong. Single wires that are relatively easy to run. SignalK could make the biggest bite in this area, but the topology is the same. What would be great would be a star-topology based on ethernet or similar. Furuno tried hard for this in the face of N2K, but did not prevail. More robust, and even easier to implement.
Yeah.... I have an old C 80 which is whacky... But I added a winch mounted B&G T7 in the cockpit where I need to SEE a plotter. The winch mount can easily be changed! Pedestal pods may or may not be adaptable as you change gear. Don't use one and won't.
Aren't the pods themselves pretty standard, and all one needs to do is recut, or get a new, faceplate for the pod? I recently changed a Garmin plotter in a pod for a Furuno plotter, and was able to make it fit well gluing a sheet of black plastic over the old hole (trimmed and rounded appropriately), with a new hole cut into it. Looks good and fits well. I used black because the plotter is black and it all looks the same, but white would work for a different situation.