We’re all familiar with dedicated electronic chart plotters for navigation afloat. Since the introduction of GPS about 25 years ago, dedicated marine plotters have become the back bone of modern electronic navigation systems. But whilst smaller 4 and 5” plotters have tumbled in price, larger 8-15” devices remain stubbornly expensive. The cost of the electronic cartography can also be high and you’ll often be hooked into a closed or proprietary “eco” system for accessories, upgrades or extra features.
Consumer devices like the iPad do offer an alternative and with iPad sales now over 270 million units to date, they bring an economy of scale but also, importantly, a network of software developers making niche apps – many of which can be useful for marine utilisation.
The core iPad hardware revolves around a high resolution 7.9” or 9.7” touch screen display. With screen resolutions now at 2048 x 1536 pixels for the latest iPad Air, it outpaces dedicated products by a mile yet costs under £400 including vat – even cheaper if you’re in the US. They also feature wireless interfaces to allow integration with other on board devices and systems and with internet connectivity can bring a host of “cloud” data to your boat – from the latest weather reports to charts updates or crowd sourced data.
Whilst an iPad isn’t waterproof, there’s a variety of protective cases now available and of course 12v chargers, adaptors and mounting options. Sunlight viewing can also be challenging in very bright conditions but this document outlines some good solutions to this problem.
At Digital Yacht, we firmly believe there’s a place for consumer devices integrated into a boat’s system and we have a wide range of wireless hardware and applications that make this a reality. We’re determined to offer better value in boating and electronic navigation, safety, communication and entertainment afloat and the iPad revolution is a big step forward here. Download our latest White Paper (June 2015) guide here iPad Navigation Afloat – a Digital Yacht White Paper