You are not the first infuriated with Nobeltec. There was a previous post about a limitation of 3 installs and then the software is dead. I emailed Nobeltec about it, since I was also considering which charting package to get, and they did not deny it. I was concerned about hard drive failures, new laptop, home and laptop use, etc, that would quickly burn the 3 installs. They said something about reviewing it on a case by case basis, but there are posts on other boards from folks who got screwed, with apparently legitimate multiple installs. The dongle is also a pain--if you lose it, again you are screwed. You would think the dongle is enough protection for them, rather than also have the 3 installs limit. So, this turned me off the software--I don''t want to be chasing them and trying to convince them of something from a distant anchorage. The main reason for getting Nobeltec is their proprietary vector charts--if you add that investment to the charting software investment, you have a lot of money and hassle at risk on a whim from Nobeltec.
I have tried the Nobeltec program and liked the functionality--also tried Capn and some others, but finally bought Raymarine Raytech Navigator 4.1. Basic chart functionality of Raytech seems adequate--quilting is OK, speed of display on a good laptop is OK. Still get the free weather downloads from the Raymarine web site. Big advantage is that if you have the HSB2 radar and chart plotter setup (HSB2 is the newest version), with an E85001 PC interface, the PC is on the same high speed bus. I have not (yet) set up my PC that way, but apparently you can overlay the radar and cmap NT+ charts--or split screen them on the PC also. I have the Raymarine 530C chartplotter and it is awesome. I also have the Raymarine radar (4KW) and it has done very well for me.
ANother big feature is the cmap nt read ability of Raytech that Nobeltec does not have. If you buy an LCD color Raymarine radar display, you can get a CMAP NT slot on it, and display cmap charts. Only Raytech or Maxsea of the full feature programs apparently allows CMAP to be used directly. Nobeltec has a big investment in another vector program and will not be supporting CMAP anytime soon (again I verified this via email direct to Nobeltec).
If you were to buy the standard Raymarine current model radar, and the E85001, you should be able to do what you want. To verify it, you can post a question on the raymarine web site. www.raymarine.com Hit customer service, then "answers" and post a question on your specific situation.
Personally, I like the radar at the nav station and the chart plotter at the helm. The chart plotter can display the radar signal--either the whole screen shows radar, or split screen with the chart plotter, or overlay if you have HSB2 (the newest version). The radar at the nav station can also display the chart. This IMHO is truly awesome if you are cruising. From a user interface standpoint, the PC software has the same control buttons on the right side of the screen as the radar and chartplotter. Personally I don''t mind more complex user interface, since I''ve been using computers for a l.o.n.g time. But it does make it easier when you are tired or in bad weather. And the controls are pretty dummy-proof.
I currently have the HSB1 bus between chartplotter and radar and seriously thinking of upgrading.
I don''t have lots of experience with Raytech functionality, since I got it relatively recently, so perhaps someone else can comment further on specific features.
Net is that you have to buy in to the entire Raymarine concept to get the full integration. But if you do, the result is really awesome, IMO.
Practical sailor recently did some articles on this topic. Nobeltec came out well for functionality and esp for their vector charts. But the risk factor was not addressed.
Long post--if you have an interest of further discussion via email, feel free to email me. And I''d love to know what you finally do. You can always sell the Nobeltec program on ebay, whether you go their integrated approach or Raytech''s.