does not have a map and a chart plotter does. That is the distinction. Personally, I use a laptop
computer and a GPS (the screen
is far bigger as well as the map). It's still about the same cost but the laptop
computer does more things than a chart plotter. Adding software
to a laptop adds a whole lot more functionality even still. You find a laptop is a valuable tool when not navigating too.
If you want something at the helm
then a laptop won't really be bright enough to see on a sunny day but a GPS is a slam dunk going to work any time. I load the GPS with a route
made on the computer and work the way points. I already looked at the chart when I made the route
plus I have a paper chart just in case that fails me.
The newer chart plotters do a nice job at the helm
but are a potential point of failure. A laptop below deck
can handle a storm well and still be good for email
at an Internet
café or a wifi
marina plus play a DVD
when things don't go wrong. Don't use a laptop in the cockpit
under sail and don't try to use a chart plotter to send email
. After that it sorts itself out pretty easy.
A computer is more useful than a chart plotter is the way I see it because I already can navigate better than a chart plotter. If you need to constantly watch the chart plotter to get any place then you have serious problem. If you don't know where you really want to go then a chart plotter won't help you. It does not leave much for what they are better at to me.