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  #11  
Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

Quote:
Originally Posted by TakeFive View Post
One of the benefits of a Windowing environment is that you can run the chartplotter program twice, with different areas showing, or the same area at different zoom levels. No turnkey chartplotter, or even an iPad or Android, can do this
Raymarine Lighthouse does it on my e7d. You can run two "apps" side by side, or the same "app" twice, or run any of them full screen.

Here is an example (from the helpful panbo blog) showing ENC and RNC charts next to each other, but you don't have to mix and match:


With the larger than 7" plotters you can run up to 4 apps. This is also from panbo, showing 3 apps:


I normally run my plotter with charts on the left and data on the right, but sometimes do full screen charts or charts on the left and sonar on the right.

Raymarine also (finally) uses GPX files for waypoints, tracks, and routes, so you can use your favorite planning software at home. Previously you had to convert to their proprietary format.

I have yet to see an iPad (or PC) based solution that works as well in the sunlight, is waterproof when plugged in, and with NMEA 2000 integration for less money than a nice plotter. My plotter gets a lot brighter than the iPad Air, Nexus 7 (either version) or Dell Venue 8 Pro, all of which I have. NMEA 0183 has lower data rates than NMEA 2000 which is annoying in more complex networks, especially if you want to capture speed changes during wind shifts. I like having two displays in the cockpit, a data display near the companionway that can be seen from anywhere and which shows wind and speed, and a plotter by the helm for navigation.
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  #12  
Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

Good points, thanks for correcting me. I overstated my claim when I said "no turnkey plotter..." Clearly the companies are feeling the competition and adding features.

I'm not interested in misleading people with incorrect facts, so I apologize for the sloppiness of that statement.

I've done my system very inexpensively, but it has taken some (a lot) of configuring. However, after the initial effort it has been reliable. However, a "turnkey" system will probably be easier to configure for many users. I do believe that it comes at a greater cost, though, especially with tablets getting so much better and so much cheaper at a very fast rate.

I considered the Venue 8 Pro for my system, but the Miix2 8" had a 40% brighter screen (534 vs 377 lux, laptopmag.com and confirmed in person at my local Microsoft Store). The Miix2 also has an internal GPS, which the Venue 8 Pro lacks. On my boat, the Miix gets GPS (and AIS) from Bluetooth, but on other boats I can activate the internal GPS for the chartplotter app.
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  #13  
Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

Yes, I wouldn't recommend the Dell Venue 8 Pro as a plotter tablet either. I use it at work, not on the boat. At $200 (a frequent sale price) it is much cheaper than the other Windows 8.1 tablets, and so far the Dell, Lenovo, and ASUS have all used similar hardware.

For a cheap boat tablet with basic GPS/plotting features and nothing else I'd recommend the Nexus 7. It has a built in GPS, a used 2012 version can be had for under $150, and Navionics "phone" version is $15 for full charts for the US and Canada and runs well on them (you don't need the $50 tablet version). It has a built in GPS. When you upgrade to a full plotter you can use this as a remote display (a feature found on all major plotters these days).

I believe that most 7" and larger plotters will allow you to run multiple "apps" side by side.

Edit: From a quick scan it looks like the screen brightness on the e7 is 1000 cd/m^2, which is the same as 1000 lux measured at 1 meter. That's a big jump from 534 on your Miix, 411 on the iPad Air, or 531 on the Nexus 7.
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Last edited by Alex W; 03-01-2014 at 10:43 PM.
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
Yes, I wouldn't recommend the Dell Venue 8 Pro as a plotter tablet either. I use it at work, not on the boat.

For a cheap boat tablet with basic GPS/plotting features and nothing else I'd recommend the Nexus 7. It has a built in GPS, a used 2012 version can be had for under $150, and Navionics "phone" version is $15 for full charts for the US and Canada and runs well on them (you don't need the $50 tablet version). It has a built in GPS. When you upgrade to a full plotter you can use this as a remote display (a feature found on all major plotters these days)...
Yes, I've been tempted to buy the Navionics app for my Android phone, and have read the comments that the phone version works great on the 7" tablets. The Nexus 7/Navionics is a great combination that gives everything a handheld GPS does with a much bigger screen for less money. I'm not sure, but I do think that the 2013 version of Nexus 7 may have a brighter screen than the 2012 version.

I am very partial toward OpenCPN (Windows/Linux/Mac), but I agree that N7/Navionics is a great low-cost option.
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1991 15' Trophy (Lake Wallenpaupack)
1985 14' Phantom (Lake Wallenpaupack)
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex W View Post
Edit: From a quick scan it looks like the screen brightness on the e7 is 1000 cd/m^2, which is the same as 1000 lux measured at 1 meter. That's a big jump from 534 on your Miix, 411 on the iPad Air, or 531 on the Nexus 7.
Yes, for at least $1000 more than the Miix or N7.

When comparing lux measurements, I try to only use numbers from one source, since measurement methodology can affect the results so much. Too bad laptopmag.com doesn't measure chartplotters.
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

Laptop Mag doesn't seem to have a page describing how they are measuring, which makes it harder for me to trust them too. It would be nice to have a good comparison, but I don't see one online.

How do you plan on making your Miix waterproof and providing power to it? There are few waterproof cases for tablets that allow you to power the tablet while keeping it waterproof.

The e7 is a bit spendy (I bought mine for $1200), but the a75 has the same basic feature set (minus hard buttons) for under $1000. This makes it pretty comparable to the iPad once you add mounting hardware, GPS, and waterproofing. It is probably cheaper than the iPad once you add NMEA to all of those features. The Raymarine a65 is even cheaper ($620 at West Marine), but drops to a smaller 6" screen.

Personally I like having the hard buttons on the e7, they work a lot better than any touch screen when wearing the thick lined fishing gloves that I use while sailing in the winter.
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

How We Test Laptops for Review- LaptopMag.com

I sail in a flatwater river, so the cockpit always stays dry. The ~one day a year that I get caught in the rain, I move the computer down below (I have a RAM mount down there) and either steer from the companionway with remote (where I can see the computer mounted down below), or use the the waterproof handheld GPS from the helm. But for this new tablet, I have an e-reader pouch made by Travelon that I might use too.

Power is simple. I have a 12v supply coming out of my pedestal. My netbook battery was dying last season, so I used it all the time. Most of my daysails are ~4 hours, so I expect the new tablet battery to last without charging. For longer cruises, I would plug a USB adapter into that, and power the tablet with a micro-USB cable.

We all sail in different conditions, and for different durations, so I realize that something that's good enough for a trifty fair weather daysailor may not be good enough for others.
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1991 15' Trophy (Lake Wallenpaupack)
1985 14' Phantom (Lake Wallenpaupack)

Last edited by TakeFive; 03-01-2014 at 11:20 PM.
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  #18  
Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

Ah, I sail in Puget Sound and need to have electronics that can handle getting doused by salt water. In high winds it isn't uncommon to have salt spray coming across the cockpit, and the touchscreen on my plotter often gets salt marks on it. This is a photo that a friend took when sailing here a couple of weeks ago in ~30 knot winds (when wind waves will be 3-4 feet):


That isn't our normal sailing, but it's what I expect my cockpit instruments to handle.

USB cables and power adapters are also not built for this type of exposure, and it doesn't look like your e-reader pouch can pass battery power through while staying waterproof.

Thanks for the link to laptopmag's blog post, I hadn't found it. It doesn't state why they switched from measuring nits to lux though.
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Old 03-01-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

The "Frogsuit" wetsuit for Ipads will soon be available. Consider this to be a shameless plug for my new product. We have made them for both the ipad and Ipad mini. Only flaw we found was we had the lens opening too small. AT this time, we have not yet made the electrical feedthrus for connections but that is coming soon. I'll post some pics from my office computer tomorrow.
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Old 03-02-2014
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Re: Chart plotter or IPad

I have a Comar NMEA-2-WiFi multiplexer. I believe I paid a little over $200. It's similar to the Brookhouse unit but was cheaper. I went to the website of Comar's US distributor (Milltech Marine) and didn't find it so it may have been discontinued. For better or worse, it seems a lot of NMEA 0183 based gear is quickly disappearing. I might be willing to sell my Comar unit if anyone is interested as I'm actually considering going to NMEA 2000.

As for OpenCPN, I agree that it's a great program and has some amazing capabilities for the price. My only issue with it is that it's not completely straightforward as to how to get up-to-date charts for non-US waters. I see that as a general downside to PC-based solutions as the landscape for non-US charting seems to be fairly confusing unless you're willing to spend a lot of money.

I keep harping on charting because I feel it's an area where tablet based solutions have a ridiculously large but often unacknowledged advantage, especially for those who would want non-US charts. App prices for chart regions range from $20 to usually not more than $50. Compare that to chartplotter chips where the same regions can be $150-200 per. Most apps allow access to the chart for the life of the device and beyond, and provide chart updates at no additional cost. A chart chip for a chartplotter must be repurchased to receive any updates. For people sailing in only US waters, this is not a huge issue if they buy a preloaded plotter, but if you're going to cruise out of the country the costs of all the chips can become astronomical. Tablet charts can theoretically receive updates whenever they get an internet connection while I'd bet that most boaters never update their chartplotters after the initial purchase. Tablets also at this point are much better for taking advantaged of crowdsourced knowledge, which can be hugely helpful and I believe will be a large part of the future of navigation.
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