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Old 24-06-2018, 05:52   #1
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Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

I would like to buy a tablet for running navigation software and would like to get advice from people who use tablets for navigation. Iím not very savvy when it comes to the latest technologyÖ

Background: I have a Garmin chartplotter and 2 other GPSs on board. I also use paper charts. This is my basic and primary navigation setup. I would like to have other options on board such as Open CPN (or another program), Predict Wind and other programs (tides?). I have a number of questions regarding hardware and software. Bear in mind I donít know much about any of thisÖ

Hardware. Iím looking for an inexpensive tablet (but not an iPad) to use exclusively for these programs on board. Ideally, the tablet would have a long battery life and a built in GPS. Can anyone recommend a good and inexpensive tablet? As I donít know anything about using a tablet for navigation, I have no idea what features to look for, such as memory capacity, OS, connectivity, ports, slots for cards etc. If anyone has any suggestions, Iíd be very grateful (or even products to avoid). Even a list of the minimum features Iíll need would be a big help. Iíll be in Canada for the month of August and Iíll buy a tablet there (cheaper than Brazil). I was looking at this model (below), but as I donít really know what features Iíll need, Iím not sure if it is adequate. The tablet would be used at the nav table inside and it doesnít have to ďtalkĒ to any other devices.

https://www.bestbuy.ca/en-ca/product...p_sllng_prdcts

Software. Iíd like to run Open CPN or Navionics or a similar navigation software (still donít know the options available). I would also like to use the tablet for getting weather and wind (via mobile signal). Iíd love to hear what people are using (and the pros and cons) for navigation and weather on their tablets. For the time being, I would use the software for navigating in Brazil (digital charts are available for the whole coast), but I would like to use it also for sailing abroad in a year or so.

Thanks in advance!
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Old 24-06-2018, 07:08   #2
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

The Lenovo does not have a built in GPS. A tablet with cellular data capability will almost always have a GPS. Ones without data capability rarely do. If you get a tablet with data capability, you can use the GPS without having to subscribe to a data plan.
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Old 24-06-2018, 07:14   #3
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by vaporware View Post
The Lenovo does not have a built in GPS. A tablet with cellular data capability will almost always have a GPS. Ones without data capability rarely do.
Yes, I noticed it didn't come with a built-in GPS, but I thought I'd buy a USB one like this one:

https://www.amazon.ca/USGlobalsat-BU...ywords=USB+GPS

I've been looking at tablets online and reading about this on the forums, but I'm still completely lost! I just want to buy an inexpensive, basic tablet to run Open CPN (or similar) as a stand-alone backup nav system. Any suggestions?
Also, Android or Windows tablet?
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Old 24-06-2018, 07:20   #4
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

I wouldn't count on that GPS working with the Lenovo tablet. At a minimum, you would need a USB to Micro USB adapter. In addition, the Android version would need to support that particular GPS device. I have one. Windows will recognize it and automatically install the necessary drivers. I don't know if Android would. Look for a tablet with a built in GPS. Lenovo makes a few.
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Old 24-06-2018, 07:26   #5
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by vaporware View Post
I wouldn't count on that GPS working with the Lenovo tablet. At a minimum, you would need a USB to Micro USB adapter. In addition, the Android version would need to support that particular GPS device. I have one. Windows will recognize it and automatically install the necessary drivers. I don't know if Android would. Look for a tablet with a built in GPS. Lenovo makes a few.
So would a Windows tablet be better?
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Old 24-06-2018, 07:56   #6
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

Not necessarily. Personally, I prefer a laptop with a keyboard and mouse. Touch screens don't work too well when you have gloves on. I have a 12 volt power adapter for my laptop, so battery life is not an issue. I use mine at the chart table. I have yet to see a tablet or a laptop that is usable in bright sun.
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Old 24-06-2018, 08:05   #7
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

There are a number of inexpensive tablets with built in GPS. For example, .1" Fusion5 Android 7.0 Nougat Tablet PC - (MediaTek Quad-Core, GPS, Bluetooth 4.0, FM, 1280800 IPS Display, Google Certified Tablet PC) - Dec 2017 Release (16GB) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0789RWH9Y..._Zh7lBb1RK43XQ


If you want a GPS device to use with the Lenovo tablet, GlobalSat ND-105C Micro USB GPS Receiver https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N32HKIW..._qk7lBbYNW9P7B might do the job.
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Old 24-06-2018, 08:25   #8
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

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Originally Posted by vaporware View Post
Not necessarily. Personally, I prefer a laptop with a keyboard and mouse. Touch screens don't work too well when you have gloves on. I have a 12 volt power adapter for my laptop, so battery life is not an issue. I use mine at the chart table. I have yet to see a tablet or a laptop that is usable in bright sun.
I have a laptop with a big screen, but it's quite big, heavy, expensive and power hungry. I like the idea of a tablet- it's small, easy on the batteries and I can take it to and from the boat easily. I also work from my boat sometimes, so I can plug in a keyboard and mouse and use the tablet as a screen when I want to work.

Sadly, I don't know anything about tablets, computer chartplotting etc. and I'm still confused about what to get. If anyone can suggest an inexpensive "kit" (tablet, USB GPS and anything else I will need) to run Open CPN on board, I'd be grateful. I know that tons of people are doing this. What are you using?
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Old 24-06-2018, 08:40   #9
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

I use a non-cellular, non-GPS iPad mini. I have a separate Dual GPS transceiver that communicates with the iPad via Bluetooth. This setup was cheaper than an iPad with built-in GPS. This has been flawless for 3 years now.

For software, I use iNavX. The major pro of this app is that it uses free downloadable NOAA charts. I have found it to be very accurate. The major con is that the software is not very intuitive. I still find myself plucking around trying to figure things out.

All in I think I spent around $300 three yrs ago for the iPad, GPS device, and the software.

Good luck!
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Old 24-06-2018, 08:42   #10
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

I the old days I tried laptops with poor results, too bulky and fragile. Not sure why you ruled out iPads. I have been using them for years with Navionics and several other programs such as AyeTides XL, BuoyData, Ship Finder and iNavX. The cellular versions include a built in GPS that doesn't require a data plan. I find them invaluable for planning and navigation.
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Old 24-06-2018, 08:43   #11
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Copacabana View Post
Hardware. I’m looking for an inexpensive tablet (but not an iPad) to use exclusively for these programs on board. Ideally, the tablet would have a long battery life and a built in GPS. Can anyone recommend a good and inexpensive tablet? As I don’t know anything about using a tablet for navigation, I have no idea what features to look for, such as memory capacity, OS, connectivity, ports, slots for cards etc.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Copacabana View Post
Sadly, I don't know anything about tablets, computer chartplotting etc. and I'm still confused about what to get. If anyone can suggest an inexpensive "kit" (tablet, USB GPS and anything else I will need) to run Open CPN on board, I'd be grateful. I know that tons of people are doing this. What are you using?

Most Android tablets have built-in GPS. In the Apple world, at least as it was last I heard, only cellular-capable models have built-in GPS. You can do your own price comparisons.

Tablets in general don't offer many externals... aside from a USB connection... but in return that means you mostly don't need to know squat about ports, cards, slots, etc.

OTOH, some models do have slots for micro-SD cards, which makes it reasonable to buy a tablet with minimal memory (e.g., 16 gB) -- if you want -- and then add a 32 gB SD or whatever. OTOH, more initial memory seldom hurts, but OTOOH, over 32 gB native might be overkill.

When it comes to external keyboards, a common method is a Bluetooth compatible product. Logitech probably still makes those; we have one that will pair with three Windows, Android, Chrome, iOS, or MacOS devices, so we have it set for two tablets and a SmartTV.

We use an external GPS for our laptop, and internal GPS capabilities with all three of our tablets. I don't see any difference in accuracy.

FWIW, our tablets are Samsung, whatever the latest version is in the sizes we find useful. One is about 10" and its better for nav; the other is about 8" and it's suitable for nav but also slightly easier to read "paperbacks" on. Both are "daylight" challenged if in full sun, but we're under a hardtop so both are almost always easily readable. Note that brighter display settings use battery faster.

There are a boatload of nav apps to choose from in the Android and iThing world... and a bazillion threads on here about which is good/better/best. I won't try to recap those, and I only have hands-on experience with the three tablet apps and the laptop app we use, anyway (Plan2Nav, MX Mariner, and iSailor... plus Time Zero on the laptop).

-Chris
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Old 24-06-2018, 08:49   #12
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

Very few Android tablets which don't have cellular data capability have a built in GPS.
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Old 24-06-2018, 08:58   #13
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

I use a refurbed iPad with Aqua Maps. Works great, I have a RAM mount with a powerful suction cup that mounts the iPad to my dash board right below my Garmin Chartplotter. I use them both at the same time but rely on the iPad.

Be sure you get an iPad with built in GPS all of them do not have it.

There are two ways to tell if it has GPS:
1. It has a large black bar on the top of the unit that you can see, this is the GPS antenna.
2. If it will use a SIM card it has GPS built in. You do not have to install a SIM card though. I do not have a SIM card in mine and it works great.

If if just does WiFi it does not have GPS built in. The ones with GPS also do WiFi though.

When ever you get WiFi you can update the Active Captain data.
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Old 24-06-2018, 09:03   #14
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

Certainly the Samsung Tab models have built in GPS without cellular. Given its a backup to bespoke chart plotters and the OP describes himself as technically lacking, the simplest route for a backup seems the best, so a tablet with Navionics boating app and navionics charts will be the simplest and probably cheapest to buy and make work. The tablet needs to be Android or IOS for Navionics.
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Old 24-06-2018, 09:21   #15
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Re: Computer navigation and tablet advice for idiot please!

You say that the tabet will be used at the nav table inside, so the two big problems with tablets, screen brightness and waterproofing are not a issue.


Basically, any 4G Android tablet will do everything you want. (4G so that you can update charts, apps and get current weather forecasts any time you are in cell phone range). They almost all come with built in GNSS/GPS receivers and many if not most of them have GLONASS/BEIDOU/GALILEO as well as GPS compatible chips. Even low spec'ed ones will do the job (I'm still using an old Motorola Xoom with Navionics).



Open CPN is great if you are sailing in an area where you can get free up to date charts. If not then Navionics is reasonably priced and their charts are generally very good.
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