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Old 12-13-2013, 12:38 PM   #1
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Your experience with Garmin Bluechart Mobile

I've been using my iPad to navigate for two years now. I started with Navionics and I have been extremely satisfied with this product. However it's always nice to try different products and last summer I got the Garmin Bluechart mobile app for iPad.

There's a lot of negative reviews about this product and my opinion of the app is not very positive either. To be honest I haven't been able to really use and try this product because the user interface is so slow I gave up after a few tries. What I mean is everytime I use my finger to move the map it takes a good 2-3 seconds (sometimes even longer) for the image to actually move. Seriously! Compared to the Navionics app, this one is totally unresponsive. Am I the only one that has this issue? I use an iPad 3 and I have lots of free memory so I doubt it's a hardware issue.

It's unfortunate that the app is not better than this because I would really like to use it and pair it over wi-fi with my Garmin gps so I can transfer routes and waypoints.
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Old 12-13-2013, 10:15 PM   #2
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I used my iPad solely to navigate from Va. Around Fl. To Knoxville. I used Garmin mostly but had Navionics as a back up. The only reason I switched to Navionics was for the view. I liked the google earth type view at times. I never had any issue with Garmin being slow to respond. I didn't like the heads up option that switched back every time you touch the screen. And no one told me you are limited to 50 tracks and I wanted to save mine. I just bought a Garmin 740 and was told by them that there's no way to send info from the iPad to the 740 or to save tracks anywhere. Garmin doesn't seem to care. They told me the software wasn't designed to replace a chart plotter.
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Old 12-14-2013, 04:00 AM   #3
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I like to use the Navionics app on my iPad 3 as back-up to my Lowrance, and for up on the flybridge, and I am impressed. From the above I am glad I didn't pay a lot more for the Garmin Bluechart version, as I almost did.
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Old 12-14-2013, 10:50 AM   #4
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I think the Garmin app is fantastic. You need a faster iPad for it because the charts are rendered in a much more graphic way - lines are anti-aliased, text is much richer, and more. That takes CPU time to produce but ends up producing a much more pleasing image (IMO).

You can't trust the ratings of any free app like Garmin unless you look at the distribution of ratings. Whenever you see a normal distribution and then see a large number of 1 star ratings for a free app, it almost always means that the low ratings were made by competitors and are fake. This is a well known problem with free apps by every developer who makes them (I have 3 in iOS and Android).

BlueChart Mobile has this distribution right now:
5 star: 42
4 star: 28
3 star: 17
2 star: 15
1 star: 53

Since there is no barrier to write a review on a free app, you'll always see this type of disjoint 1-star rating. Paid apps always have a clean ramp in the lower ratings. It ends up giving the app a lower average rating.

Having both Navionics and Garmin is probably a good idea since they are based on totally different chart databases. Personally, I wouldn't use Navionics chart data for the Bahamas at all. Garmin's Bahamas data (included in their US region) is all Explorer Chart and is fantastic. There are numerous examples of Navionics chart errors including a cat that sunk last March by following the Navionics charts leading them right across a reef. Garmin is also quite excellent on the inland rivers (Tenn-Tom, etc) having just come down them all with it.

In full disclosure, I'm one of the testers of the Garmin app and I've been involved with some of the code in their app.
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Old 12-17-2013, 09:16 PM   #5
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ActiveCaptain, I have an iPad 3 so it should be more than enough to run the app. It runs all the other apps that I have without a problem. And not sure I understand your rationale with the ratings. The app might be free but you have to buy charts to use it. And read the comments on the app store and the forums. Lots of disapointed customers.
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Old 12-17-2013, 09:30 PM   #6
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I have a few iPads and BlueChart Mobile works fine on the iPad 3 that I have.

The way the various app stores work is that you can't write a review on an app until you've "bought" the app. If the app is free (even if you have to pay to add charts) then it's trivial for any competitor to just download the app and write a review - and it's easy to write 20 reviews in that way. It's a well known problem with free apps in all platforms. Garmin's reviews for BlueChart Mobile suffer for that because the main app is free - that's what you're reading reviews on. I totally understand that once you download the free app, you have to purchase charts to make it useful. People interested in trashing the app don't need to purchase anything.

Garmin BlueChart Mobile is a fantastic app and the one I mainly use for real on my own trawler even though I own every nautical chart app that exists. I also use Navimatics and the new Skipper app. Navimatics is the fastest by far but only has NOAA ENC support. Skipper is the app for you if you prefer raster charts and can get by with only NOAA support. I also like Skipper to overlay NOAA charts with satellite imagery - I use that more often than I thought I would. If you plan to go to the Bahamas or Caribbean, you cannot beat the Garmin app.
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Old 12-17-2013, 09:40 PM   #7
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I second the Garmin app on my mini I-pad and I just bought a new mount (Smart Tap) from Amazon that will allow the I-pad to sit beside the other chartplotters and navigational aids which I am hoping will allow the Active Captain Companion to play an integral role.

p.s I love the Garmin app and find myself using it more than the fixed chartplotters in the pilothouse while moving and at $50 the charts are dirt cheap and perfect to allow for planning and review of next days travel from anywhere on board.
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Old 12-17-2013, 10:06 PM   #8
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See? There are two real trawler owners using the Garmin app for real while underway. Compare that to the nonsense stated in the 1-star reviews - here are some:

"Useless unless you own a Garmin plotter" - and then goes on to write that it's basically just a repeater for your Garmin hardware. This is totally wrong. Probably written by someone who works for a competitor of Garmin. We've met many people who have used BlueChart Mobile and decided to switch to Garmin because the charts are so good. Think their competitors like that?

"This app is useless unless you purchase the charts at roughly $50 each" - along with a couple of other 1-star reviews using this same $50 chart cost. This is strange since the most purchased charts are the $24.99 US/Bahamas region.

It goes on and on. And to be fair, there are some legitimate complaints but the bulk of low ratings are more about attempting to position the app against other apps than giving real experience examples about how the Garmin app fails.
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Old 12-26-2013, 12:29 PM   #9
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We love the Garmin BlueChart app. We are going to use it on the Great Loop beginning in March. We've already used it on short cruises and it's right on with our Garmin 4210 Chartplotter. We'll used for trip planning and we're purchasing the Garmin wifi adapter so we can down routes and points from the iPad to the Chartplotter.

We've had a Garmin and Raymarine chartplotter on our last two boats (both units at the same time) and our opinion is Garmin charts are the best hands down. That's just our opinion.

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Old 12-26-2013, 01:32 PM   #10
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Question for Active Captain

Can you convince Garmin to enable uploading ac data from homeport to Garmin chartplotters.
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Old 12-26-2013, 01:56 PM   #11
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And as long as you're convincing Garmin of things, how about an Android version?
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Old 12-26-2013, 03:09 PM   #12
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Trust me - they've heard both requests at the highest level of management. We just had 2 Garmin design engineers onboard for 3 days underway to explore many new things for the future.

If there's something you especially want them to add, write to them and tell them. That's how it gets attention and backs up things I'm already telling them.
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Old 12-26-2013, 03:28 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ActiveCaptain View Post

If there's something you especially want them to add, write to them and tell them. That's how it gets attention and backs up things I'm already telling them.
Email address?
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Old 12-26-2013, 03:32 PM   #14
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And as long as you're convincing Garmin of things, how about an Android version?
Yup. Garmin is off of the list for me until this happens.
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Old 12-26-2013, 04:18 PM   #15
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Can anyone answer two questions about Garmin Blue Charts?

1. How can I keep the display as course up or heading up? Appears to constantly revert to north up.
2. I get a notice that updates are available for my purchased charts. How do I get and install the updates?

Thanks, Howard
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Old 12-26-2013, 10:47 PM   #16
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For ActiveCaptain on the Garmin chartplotters, this forum thread is probably the best to add to:
https://forums.garmin.com/showthread...-ActiveCaptain

For BlueChart Mobile (Android requests), it's probably best to go through their normal support system:
https://support.garmin.com/support/s...calateForm.htm
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Old 12-26-2013, 10:50 PM   #17
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1. How can I keep the display as course up or heading up? Appears to constantly revert to north up.
On an iPad, tap the Head Up button at the top.

On an iPhone, tap the little tab thing on the lower left side. That exposes a tray of options. One is Head Up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by hmason View Post
2. I get a notice that updates are available for my purchased charts. How do I get and install the updates?
When there is a chart update, you'll get a balloon display for the next few times you launch the app. Chart updates have been coming out every 6 months.
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Old 12-27-2013, 12:25 AM   #18
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[QUOTE=ActiveCaptain;201481]For ActiveCaptain on the Garmin chartplotters, this forum thread is probably the best to add to:
https://forums.garmin.com/showthread...-ActiveCaptain

The link above is actually a thread I submitted to Garmin Homeport forum earlier this month. I have not received a reply.
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Old 12-27-2013, 07:50 PM   #19
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I looked at garmin for my iPad & the in app purchases for charts & could not find any description of the area of coverage, I wanted the inland rivers & maybe the Great Lakes. Had the same problem with jeppeson's plan2nav app. I have a si-tex & a standard horizon chart plotter on the 38, they both use Jeppeson's chart & I'am used to them, know how to use them & like them. But I don't want to throw away the $$ for a chart & then find it doesn't cover the area I want, with titles like "east coast & Bahamas" or something similar there isn't enough detail. I did download Polar Navy but have not had a opportunity to use it yet & didn't find any charts for the upper Mis, the IL river, or ohio. I have navionics on my iPhone but they no longer upgrade it when the software is upgraded same the Fly to maps. Part of this May be their desire for higher prices or yearly fees but the paper charts on the Mis are only updated by the corp every 10 years & I know guys using charts that are 20 years old or older.
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Old 12-27-2013, 09:44 PM   #20
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Garmin's US region has the entire US including the US Great Lakes and major inland rivers from the ACoE charts. It also includes the Bahamas which are Explorer charts data and are fantastic.

You might consider instead getting the North America region if you want to also have Canada. It also adds the rest of the Caribbean and Mexico. Get the US region or North America - it's a waste to get both. Purchasing the Garmin charts allow it to be used on your iPhone and your wife's iPhone/iPad for no extra cost.
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