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Old 01-04-2014, 09:46 AM   #1
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chart plotter vs ipad/Android

What do people think about using a mobile device as a chart plotter/multi function display?

My experience has taken me from celestial and dead reckoning, through to rdf, and gps with paper chart, up to chart plotters both multi function display and computer based.

More recently I have been using mobile devices with inavx and navionics. This I first used as what I though would be backup but has quickly become primary for pure convenience (all be it with the salt water environment in mind).

My very recent research into upgrading our electronics has left me disappointed by the marine electronic companies continued insistence on forcing one to purchase their mfd's which are dinosaurs compared to current tablets and 10 times the price.

Have we reached the age where the big companies should provide the network solution to our mobile device independent of an overpriced mfd?

Or does it exist and I can't find it?

Cheers
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Old 01-04-2014, 09:49 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by sailtones View Post
What do people think about using a mobile device as a chart plotter/multi function display? My experience has taken me from celestial and dead reckoning, through to rdf, and gps with paper chart, up to chart plotters both multi function display and computer based. More recently I have been using mobile devices with inavx and navionics. This I first used as what I though would be backup but has quickly become primary for pure convenience (all be it with the salt water environment in mind). My very recent research into upgrading our electronics has left me disappointed by the marine electronic companies continued insistence on forcing one to purchase their mfd's which are dinosaurs compared to current tablets and 10 times the price. Have we reached the age where the big companies should provide the network solution to our mobile device independent of an overpriced mfd? Or does it exist and I can't find it? Cheers Tony
I would go for a chartplotter IMO.
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:24 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailtones View Post
What do people think about using a mobile device as a chart plotter/multi function display?

My experience has taken me from celestial and dead reckoning, through to rdf, and gps with paper chart, up to chart plotters both multi function display and computer based.

More recently I have been using mobile devices with inavx and navionics. This I first used as what I though would be backup but has quickly become primary for pure convenience (all be it with the salt water environment in mind).

My very recent research into upgrading our electronics has left me disappointed by the marine electronic companies continued insistence on forcing one to purchase their mfd's which are dinosaurs compared to current tablets and 10 times the price.

Have we reached the age where the big companies should provide the network solution to our mobile device independent of an overpriced mfd?

Or does it exist and I can't find it?

Cheers
Tony
I use an iPad as a backup plotter, and will always have dedicated navigation electronics onboard- they are designed for exposure to the elements, and interface easily with their associated components (radar, depthsounder, AIS, etc).

Tablets are great, but it's not real to compare them to dedicated MFDs- the tablet is smarter and more capable in the general sense, but the MFD is more useful for its intended purpose.
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Old 01-04-2014, 10:25 AM   #4
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I think both are important to have today because of radar and instrument integration. Today, iPads and tablets are great. But they are backups until they can show all instrument data, overlay live onboard radar, and control an autopilot.

Real chartplotter hardware is the best way to get sunlight readable and waterproof displays. You'd be sorely unhappy with an iPad outside in the Bahamas sun.
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:03 AM   #5
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Don't blame the chartplotter companies for high prices compared to a tablet. Tablets sell in the tens, maybe hundreds of millions each year. Chartplotters sell what 100,000 each year?

I agree with others and would only use my tablet as a backup, albeit a very good backup solution. But a real chartplotter mfd that is sunlight readable, waterproof and integrates radar with cartography hasn't been duplicated by a tablet yet.

David
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:09 AM   #6
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Don't blame the chartplotter companies for high prices compared to a tablet. Tablets sell in the tens, maybe hundreds of millions each year. Chartplotters sell what 100,000 each year? I agree with others and would only use my tablet as a backup, albeit a very good backup solution. But a real chartplotter mfd that is sunlight readable, waterproof and integrates radar with cartography hasn't been duplicated by a tablet yet. David
My exact thoughts.
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:18 AM   #7
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But why not stick a laptop under the dash and connect it to a 17 inch display. That may be my next chartplotter upgrade. Current maps... higher speed processing... choice of software (and can switch between them)... mouse control... 1/4 the price.

Dave
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:27 AM   #8
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But why not stick a laptop under the dash and connect it to a 17 inch display. That may be my next chartplotter upgrade. Current maps... higher speed processing... choice of software (and can switch between them)... mouse control... 1/4 the price.

Dave
That's what I thought I would do, though I was thinking 24" monitor.
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:42 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by djmarchand View Post
Don't blame the chartplotter companies for high prices compared to a tablet. Tablets sell in the tens, maybe hundreds of millions each year. Chartplotters sell what 100,000 each year?

I agree with others and would only use my tablet as a backup, albeit a very good backup solution. But a real chartplotter mfd that is sunlight readable, waterproof and integrates radar with cartography hasn't been duplicated by a tablet yet.

David
The problem is that the technology is available for them to just make a processor and to sell the display separately; which would then allow one to choose which display they went for, be it an expensive marine version, or cheap tablet. I think they are aware of this so I do blame the companies, although I do understand why they do it, but IMHO it is very short sighted.
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Old 01-04-2014, 11:47 AM   #10
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Before we bought our kk42, we did a couple of bareboat charters. The plotters on these boats were quite old and I had my iPad with me with iNavx and the CHS charts. We used the iPad exclusively for navigation. I like the larger display and the ability to use the mouse with my Coastal Explorer software but find I do a lot of planning with my iPad. It's also nice to have the iPad as a backup if the plotter dies!

Jim, Sent from my iPad using Trawler
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Old 01-04-2014, 12:34 PM   #11
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I have an iPad on a RAM mount next to my Garmin 740. I use it with BlueChart Mobile as an always-on higher definition overview of the navigation situation. If I want to use the radar or sounder functions on the 740, I always have a clear representation of where I am and where I am heading.

Now, for some bad news, exposure to direct sunlight can overheat an iPad and put it into temperature protection mode.

http://sportysnetwork.com/ipad/files...eatingipad.png

I have met others who have encountered the same failure, and a quick Google search for "iPad overheating" brings up 1.5 million hits.

I have had this happen to me both while flying and boating. It happened once while mounted on the yoke and once on my lap. Each time the screen was in direct sunlight through a side window. The black glass surface absorbs heat and overheats the unit. This can be exciting if you reach for your approach plate as you turn final, and find a dead iPad! While things don't happen quite as fast in a boat, this is just as exciting if you are navigating a narrow channel and unexpectedly find a black screen.

Boating in tropical climates can subject the iPad to the same thermal loads. iPads are relatively fragile, almost impossible to read in bright sunlight (especially with sunglasses) and require protective cases when used in wet conditions. These are attributes I do not want associated with my PRIMARY navigation instrument(s).

IMHO, for now, they are best left to secondary or back-up navigation duties. This is particularly true when they are used to remotely control the newest MFDs.

Warnings aside, I love the iPad in the air or on the water, and use it constantly. I simply respect the fact that like any other electronic device, they can and WILL fail, sometimes when you need them most.

Larry
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Old 01-04-2014, 12:44 PM   #12
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That's what I thought I would do, though I was thinking 24" monitor.
You must be over 55.

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Old 01-04-2014, 12:47 PM   #13
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You must be over 55. Dave
I was thinking my next boat, has to have one of these!
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Old 01-04-2014, 12:55 PM   #14
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You must be over 55.

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Old 01-04-2014, 02:40 PM   #15
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My very recent research into upgrading our electronics has left me disappointed by the marine electronic companies continued insistence on forcing one to purchase their mfd's which are dinosaurs compared to current tablets and 10 times the price.

Neither of our tablets are easily/completely visible in bright sunlight. Neither are waterproof, although that's a lesser problem on our bridge. I can't connect either to our existing autopilot.

We haven't had it happen to a tablet (yet?), but we've had a now permanent "sunspot" grow in one corner of our iPod display, presumably from heat, direct sunlight, etc. I can kinda-sorta make out the menu, but it's essentially hosed... and I expect that could occur with any of the current tablet technology.

FWIW, we do use both plan2nav (C-Map vector charts) and MX Mariner (NOAA raster charts) on our Android tablets... as backup to our laptop in the saloon... which is backup to our chartplotter and also to our separate/redundant marine GPS with paper charts if necessary. Both are sometimes harder to see, though...

-Chris
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Old 01-04-2014, 02:49 PM   #16
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I have tested some idevices/apps against my Garmin chartplotter. I love the gadgets but ... here is my view FWIW ...


MARINE CHARTPLOTTER VS IPAD w/NAV APP

GARMIN MARINE CHARTPLOTTER

• good GPS receiver, good location, consistently good signal
• marinized and fixed device
• can be integrated with VHF radio and/or other systems
• best and multifunctional charts (BlueChart g2 Vision)
• available weather and wind, weather radar info (XM subscription)
• cumbersome route planning, easier done outside and imported back
• reliable, dedicated to the task, and tested in marine environment

MOBILE DEVICES (iPad and such)

• require external GPS receiver for dependable good signal and no delays
• provide greater flexibility and choices of apps and charts/maps
• the reliability of devices and apps is not as high as dedicated devices

NAVIONICS Mobile App
• good charts
• excellent nav module and route planning (in-app purchase)
• adequate weather, wind, and tide info

NAVIMATICS Mobile App
• basic charts
• activecaptain guide

BLUECHART Mobile App
• very good charts but not as functional as BlueChart g2 Vision
• available weather, wind, and radar info (in-app purchase)
• rudimentary route planing
• activecaptain guide, gets in a way a bit, can be hidden

OTHER APPS AND TOOLS I USE

• MARINE WEATHER PRO Mobile App
• POCKET GRIB Mobile App
• ANCHOR ALERT Mobile App
• MARINE TRAFFIC/mAIS Mobile Apps
• YACHTIE Mobile App
• BOATING SUITE Mobile App
• GOOGLE EARTH Mobile App (google maps)
• ACTIVECAPTAIN Website (bing maps)

IPAD AND NAVIONICS APP REVIEW

A few observations based on experience gained during the last cruising season.

I still use the fixed Garmin chartplotter as a primary device for piloting and immediate surroundings awareness. The Navionics/iPad combo is my route planning and big picture navigation tool.

LIKES

• great route planning tool with in-app purchased Nav Module as well as Auto Routing which speeds up considerably the route planning,

• decent maps and timely boat position updates (although it lost the GPS signal for the duration of a few minutes on one occasion).

DISLIKES

• iPad overheats and shuts down all apps and itself if exposed to sun and/or hot air, it takes a few minutes to cool it and restart the app,

• iPad screen visibility can be iffy outside in the sun,

• multitasking iPad with constant connectivity status processing, might not be responsive enough and/or crash the nav app occasionally,

• Navionics app does not have Heads Up option, only North Up,

• Navionics app does not scroll the map while executing the planned route, nor when tracking the boat position ... this one was corrected in one of the more recent updates.

Great secondary device ... I would not relay on it exclusively.
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Old 01-04-2014, 03:38 PM   #17
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Tony, every situation is different and there is no one size fits all solution. I am a dedicated inland boater with a small boat by forum standards. I purchased a radar plotter that I decided to not install. Navionics on my iPhone has proven more than adequate for my current needs.

Keep in mind that I have no auto pilot or long distance cruising plans either. Horses for courses but if I upgrade beyond iPhone/iPad it will be a laptop computer at most unless I start getting serious about long distance cruising. For a weekend warrior such as myself what I have works.
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Old 01-04-2014, 05:50 PM   #18
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I really believe it is not an either-or decision. I have for primary system garmin 7212's and an iPad and iPad mini for back up and looking ahead planning (anchorages etc.). Having the Garmin with radar, AIS, weather, autopilot, and engine monitoring and of course chart plotting itself all on a bright readable screen working together is hard to beat. iPads are the redundancy system for us and on those the Admiral does the research on what may be coming up leaving the primary system operating in the here and now for the captain. Make sure the iPad has cellular though to get the internal GPS.
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Old 01-05-2014, 01:51 AM   #19
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We run a 5" 180C Standard Horizon plotter running C-Map connected to the AP. But my primary means of navigation is an Acer netbook running Polar View. The netbook is also connected when desired via hdmi cable feeding a 32"LCD Vizio TV that swings down from the overhead, centerline in the salon. I update the charts everyday before pulling the hook so I always have up to the minute charts. This just isn't possible with the C-Map. Backup to all of this is Nuticharts on my Samsung Note II smart phone. Marinetraffic app can also serve as a basic backup.
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Old 01-05-2014, 02:17 AM   #20
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I hope that Peter, Twistedtree, chimes in on this. On his blog, www.mvtanglewood.com, he has a great discussion of his research into choosing the plotter and the MFDs for his new build. He found a supplier for marine grade, daylight viewable monitors up to 24" for his new helm. it is a great read and is very informative. A great deal of info on trying to match plotters, black boxes and MFDs.
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