Re: ipad as instrumentation...
I do not think the iPad is a great primary device, but inside one of the newer hard and waterproof cases, its not bad.
On the other hand, I think its the greatest single advancement in marine electronics I've ever seen. It is nav, entertainment, communication, research, safety all in one: gps, anchor alarms, real time weather, email, charting, music, movies, marine databases, manuals, internet access, skype, etc. Really incredible that all of this requires virtually zero instruction to use, IMO. I can't imagine being underway without it.
Different strokes for different folks, if other solutions work better for other people, more power to them.
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In the harsh marine environment, something is always in need of repair. Margaritas fix everything.