i-Boating is an excellent marine navigation package. However, you need a reliable and suitable laptop or computer for i-Boating. What are the system requirements? i-Boating runs only on Windows 10, so some medium specs are required for it. I supply waterproof navigation laptops with GPS, AIS, 12V, touch screen, and other options available! If you want to get one from me, I am happy to assist you with choosing a suitable model. Just mention you want to run i-Boating on it, and I’ll help you choose a unit out of my selection. Please get in touch with any questions!
Top 10 things to look for in a laptop for i-Boating – requirements
- At least 4GB RAM, with 6-8GB being optimal. If your Windows is clean with zero junk (like I configure on my navigation laptops), 4GB should may be fine.
- A solid state drive (SSD) is highly recommended to speed up load times. SSD is also reliable, so a great thing to have on the water regardless. 128GB or above is usually enough. If you have other needs such as storing photos or videos unrelated to navigation, a larger size may be warranted. i-Boating marine charts can take up a few dozen gigabytes, especially if you load the high detail bathymetric charts. You definitely don’t want to run out of space.
- Integrated GPU (graphics card) is OK, including older ones.
- Integrated or external hardware GPS antenna is a must. If you don’t have this, you won’t have real time position. I bundle high quality GPS antennas with my units for those who need them.
- A rugged laptop is best in a marine environment. You want it to stand up to vibration, be drop resistant, and waterproof or water resistant. This is why I use Panasonic Toughbooks for my navigation laptops. In my opinion, having supplied >3000 units they are absolutely the best for use onboard.
- A matte display can be very important on the water. What good is a navigation system if you can’t see anything? If you use it down below only, a glossy one may be OK. However, outside or in a bright wheelhouse an outdoor viewable display is the best way to go! Again, some of the Panasonic Toughbook models I carry such as the 10 inch and the 13 inch are such screens with a strong anti-glare coating as well. This is pretty rare in laptops, and it’s one of the reasons why I supply Panasonic Toughbooks.
- A stock installation of Windows is poorly suited for marine navigation. Windows constantly runs all kinds of background tasks and can decide to restart and update for an hour when it feels like it. I absolutely reject this behavior – it is unacceptable. Unfortunately, Microsoft doesn’t offer any ways to turn this off. On my systems, I tweak Windows 7 and 10 to turn off all this Microsoft junk and to adapt the system and give you the control you need for marine navigation. On my systems, Microsoft has NO control and you have ALL the control. i-Boating requires Windows 10.
- A laptop for i-Boating (and marine navigation in general) must be reliable. I cannot stress this enough. Hardened laptops with a solid state drive like Panasonic Toughbooks are the best choice. Many of them are MIL-SPEC and can even be used outside in salt water spray.
- Don’t rely on battery power alone, have a way of charging it onboard. Preferably, more than one way. I have native 12V chargers (cigarette plug adapters) which are a very popular option people order with my navigation laptops. In my experience, most people just run their units on 12V constantly rather than using the battery power of the laptop.
- Make sure it has enough ports to connect whatever external equipment want to connect. A GPS antenna usually requires one USB port. An AIS receiver might take another port. An NMEA adapter of some kind may require another port. Some older equipment you may have might need an RS-232 serial port. All of my 10 (2 x USB), 13 (3-4 x USB), and 15 (4 x USB) inch navigation laptops have a native RS-232 serial port as well. I also have an internal expansion card which adds 2 x USB ports to any of my units.
- BONUS: One of the most important things on the water is redundancy. Do not make your i-Boating laptop your only navigation system. Please make sure to have some sort of a backup system as well.
Premium laptop for i-Boating on Windows
These are the highest performance and brightest screen units in their respective sizes that I carry. The 10 and 13 inch models are the most waterproof (full rugged) and are suitable for use outside.
Midrange laptop for i-Boating app on PC
Why use a navigation laptop or tablet as a chart plotter alternative?
My navigation laptop or tablet systems can be much more affordable than Garmin, Lowrance, Simrad, B&G, Furuno, Humminbird, Raymarine, Si-Tex. I will also support my units forever! Furthermore, I believe that some of the commercial chart plotter brands gouge their customers. Large companies force their clients to upgrade by no longer supporting older units with chart and software updates. In addition, they charge outrageous fees for simple things like a larger screen size. I don’t do any of these things, and never will – guaranteed! In addition to these, please take a look at other advantages as well.