I am about to upgrade an old Garmin system and I have been told that it is better to have a PC based system that can be used on a PDA or laptop than to use a chart plotter.
Just a few thoughts - since I''m considering the same:
- PC will probably have a higher amp draw
- PC represents significantly more components to potentially degrade due to rust
- PC screens tend to show poorly in bright sunlight
- If you need to mount the chartplotter at the helm, a PC is a poor substitute for a rugged Garmin product.
I have both a laptop and a chartplotter (Raymarine SL72RC+ radar/chartplotter) on board. I generally only use the laptop at anchor or under benign conditions. Laptops are not waterproof, and they''re far too expensive to risk getting splashed. Even below at the chart table that''s a risk. So, the laptop is safely stored away in its bag while underway.
It''s much better to have the chartplotter right at the helm (something you''d never risk with a laptop). When getting in and out of harbors in Maine last summer this came in very handy. There are a lot of unmarked shoals. With WAAS one tends to look at the chartplotter to see depth and distance from shoals, rather than the depth guage. Accuracy is that good.
Laptops now have 1024x768 resolution in color. My Raymarine is 320x240 (the Raymarine color units are 640x480). There''s a huge difference in resolution. The Color Raymarines are much nicer, but also $1000 more, and still not quite as good as a laptop.
It''s tough to plan routes with the 320x240 resolution, although doable. The solution I''ve developed is to plan routes for the next day at night on the laptop, and then upload waypoints to the chartplotter at night while at anchor (Raymarine visibility much better at night when backlit).
As I use the laptop at home as well the incremental cost of this solution was minimal.
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