Screen brightness is an issue on the iPad, although, I am able to manage it quite easily under the bimini. I do not, however, use the iPad (or iPhone often) as a primary. I also use Charts and Tides for the nav app, which I find much simpler and more user friendly than the Garmin Blue-whatever too. It bailed me out of a tough spot once, when my chartplotter failed and the paper chart detail for my location was so small, I couldn't read it.
That's the thing about SailNet. It covers everything from dinghies to trailer sailors to large bluewater sailboats. We all tend to comment based on our personal experience, and advice might be irrelevant for others with very different vessels and/or sailing objectives.
I'd expect any 54 footer to have a rather substantial permanently mounted turnkey navigation system that is fully weatherproof. In my 25 footer, I want something small and portable that can be removed from the cockpit and stowed down below (for security reasons as much as anything). I don't have room for a nav pod at my pedestal because it will obstruct getting around the wheel.
I've heard good things about Charts and Tides, but all the iPod and Android apps suffer from one deficiency - they do not display vessels picked up on my AIS system. My river has a lot of commercial traffic, and the AIS can tell me whether I have time to cross the channel. This opens up the whole width of the river for me, instead of sailing down a narrow sliver outside the channel. Many others sail my river without AIS, but the AIS makes it a lot safer.
So while my system is definitely not turnkey, it takes advantage of the fact that PCs can take NMEA through a serial port (or USB-serial converter) so PC software generally is written to display AIS. I went the extra step of making is wireless using Bluetooth transmitters on my nav equipment, which makes a portable tablet a really nice way to display it.
If anyone knows of iPad or Andriod software that will display AIS data that comes in through Bluetooth, please let me know. I'd like to try it. (I've found software that takes in GPS data through Bluetooth, but not AIS.)
Note that Windows8 handles internal GPS a little differently, and needs some add-on software to emulate a COM port for use with most navigation software.
This statement above is over my head and I suspect it is what Apple products specifically compete against. Apple focuses on plug and play. I've downloaded roughly 100 apps by now and have never once read an instruction on how to install or run any of them. I appreciate that some want to get into it deeper, but not me.
I understand the desire for plug and play functionality. The statement I made is widely considered to be a workaround for a temporary issue that Microsoft will fix in an upcoming update of Windows 8. More importantly, it only applies to "traditional" Windows desktop programs - the apps designed to run in Win8's modern tablet interface see the GPS seamlessly. Over time, I suspect that marine navigation apps will appear that work seamlessly with the GPS. There are already apps for auto, hiking, etc., but marine navigation is a more specialized market.