So, you want a tablet for Navionics to use on your boat as a chartplotter? No problem, I can explain. I supply preconfigured navigation tablets with Navionics as well as navigation laptops with charts pre-loaded and other accessories if you’d like to save time. This is not a bad option for both a main navigation system, but also as a backup option. It’s always important to have redundancy on the water. I recommend having at least two devices which can do chartplotting & navigation, as well as one which can read depth.
Tablet for Navionics – basic requirements
- Hardware GPS antenna. Not all devices have one. Most iPads don’t! All phones do have it, but a phone has a small display.
- Relatively recent Android or iOS version. Let’s say, under 3 years old.
- Way of charging it on the boat. Battery life is limited and you don’t want to depend on it. A strong USB port, 2-3 amps or an inverter, or a cigarette plug USB adapter. I offer them with my preconfigured navigation tablets.
- Way of mounting it on the boat. I recommend either an articulating mount (drill base or suction cup) or simply Velcro it to flat spot on the dash. You can also use them handheld, but definitely don’t leave it lying on your dash. It will fall, and bye bye tablet.
- Way of waterproofing it. If you’re using it inside the cabin, then disregard. If you are using it outside and could get caught out in some weather, definitely carry a waterproof case like I offer with my tablets as an option.
- Appropriate dimensions. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find a spot to fit a unit. I have units from 7 x 4 to 12 x 7 inches. Most people usually prefer the 10 inch unit which is 10.5 x 6.5. Please note that screen sizes are always measured as a diagonal.
- Don’t overload it with other apps. It’s better to have a unit which is mostly dedicated to marine navigation. More apps = more crashes. Keep it clean.
Can I see the display outside in the sun? Yes, this can be a problem.
Yes, but probably not perfectly in all conditions. Sometimes the sun can hit it just right (wrong) and then you won’t see a thing! Most tablets are fairly bright but they do have a lot of glare. An articulating mount can let you adjust the angle and make it visible once again. This is definitely a shortcoming. The other issue is that they are not rugged or waterproof without a case. This is where my Toughbook units come in. There’s a 10 inch convertible tablet & laptop unit which is 11×9 inches and is outdoor viewable and waterproof. Unfortunately you cannot run Navionics on it since it’s a PC, but not to worry I got other alternatives which have similar functionality.
Tablet for Navionics – can I use my Apple iPad?
The simple answer is probably not. You see, most iPads do not have a hardware GPS antenna so your position cannot be determined accurately offline. Only the LTE versions with a SIM card have a GPS antenna, and these tend to be expensive and not really worth it for this application. There Apple goes again, saving a $1 in parts. Yes, you can use an external Bluetooth antenna but this is a hassle. Just get a complete unit from me with built in GPS antenna. If you happen to have a GPS enabled iPad then by all means you can use it.
What other marine data can you view on a tablet?
Many things, it turns out! You can use a wireless NMEA adapter or multiplexer to connect to your marine devices. You can then use it to display things such as:
- Environmental: wind, water depth and temperature, pressure, humidity and more.
- Boat status: speed over ground, heading, speed through water, rudder angle.
- Engine: RPM, coolant temp and pressure, boost, fuel rate and pressure, engine oil temp and pressure, exhaust gas temp.
- Levels: fuel, oil, fresh and black water, live well
- Battery: voltage, current, temp
Why choose a navigation tablet?
My navigation tablet systems can be much more affordable than Garmin, Lowrance, Simrad, B&G, Furuno, Hummingbird, Raymarine, Si-Tex and will be supported forever! Furthermore, I believe that some of the commercial chart plotter brands gouge their customers. Companies force clients to upgrade by no longer supporting older units. In addition, they charge exorbitant fees for simple things like a bigger screen size. In addition, please take a look at other advantages as well.