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Old 09-09-2019, 17:34   #1
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Best tablet for offshore navigation

What is the best tablet to use for navigation that holds charge best, has best internal GPS
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Old 10-09-2019, 04:28   #2
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

Hard for individual consumers to say what's best.

I can tell you our current Samsung Galaxy Tab A Android tablets work well enough... although not overly bright in full sunlight. And an earlier one crapped out sooner than it should have.

Otherwise... I don't have hands-on with the other 492 different tablets that exist out there...

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Old 10-09-2019, 04:37   #3
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

I wouldn't use ANY tablet for actual navigation. But for pilotage, or keeping an eye on things when away from the normal plotters, I use a Samsung Tab Active, which is the ruggedized waterproof commercial version of the Tab. I like it because it's tough and it's waterproof, and has a very bright, practically daylight visible screen. Downside is relatively low screen resolution, and high cost.
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Old 10-09-2019, 05:04   #4
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

My wife's new iPad 12.9" Pro (2018) model has much improved screen with great daylight visibility.
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Old 10-09-2019, 05:51   #5
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Best tablet for offshore navigation

iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4 both have glare coating on screens and laminated screens. They are relatively cheap but if you crack the screen itís expensive to replace. I VNC my raspberry pi with opencpn and ais. They are easy on batteries too
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:01   #6
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

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iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 4 both have glare coating on screens and laminated screens. They are relatively cheap but if you crack the screen itís expensive to replace. I VNC my raspberry pi with opencpn and ais. They are easy on batteries too

Normal tablets are awfully fragile for use on a moving boat in a seaway. A lot of tablets have been destroyed on my boat over the years. The only ones which held up more or less OK were an Ur-Ipad, v 1.0, with a very heavy, thick screen, which is still on board and still works, and the ruggedized Tab Active which is my primary tablet today.


Later IPads are smashed just looking at them wrong, and are highly vulnerable to water splashes. I had a Sony Xperia Z2 tablet which was brilliant, with a beautiful screen, and it was even waterproof, but the screen was shattered the first time the tablet fell off a shelf when the boat heeled in a seaway once.
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Old 10-09-2019, 06:33   #7
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

No specific recommendations. The Sony tablet I use is out of production, but I can tell you why I chose it, and the same would hold true if I were shopping today.

Waterproof. You're using it on a boat. I usually just wash my tablet with the dishes after it's been out at the helm with the salt spray.

Bright screen. A tablet isn't much good if you can't see it. At the time I bought the Sony it was the brightest screen on the market, barely edging out the iPad. Screen brightness is measure in nits. It can be hard to find the specs, but a daylight readable screen is necessary and without shopping every brand and taking them outside, how else can you know?

Built in GPS. I've always been an android guy, and I was surprised to find out that many iPads don't have built in GPS.

Automatic screen dimming. I recently bought a cheap android tablet as a backup and was surprised to find that it doesn't have automatic screen dimming. I had always taken this for granted, but it's not so.

One thing that's not important is battery life. Using a tablet outdoors means the screen is turned up to full brightness, and using the GPS is always a battery suck. I don't care what tablet you get, none of them have a battery that will survive very long in those conditions. Better get a Scanstrut Rokk USB charge port.

Also, I use a very simple app called Screen Filter. Even with the screen on the lowest setting, I don't know of any tablet that gets dim enough to not kill your night vision. Screen Filter fixes that.

There are many here and other places on the net who will tell you they'd never use a tablet for navigation, but I can tell you the navigation apps such as Navionics are damn good, and use the same cartography that you can buy for your plotter. In fact, my brand new Garmin plotter's "Auto Guidance" feature wanted to run me right across an island in the Florida Keys, but my tablet knew better. No single source is perfect, not even paper charts.
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Old 10-09-2019, 08:35   #8
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

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No specific recommendations. The Sony tablet I use is out of production, but I can tell you why I chose it, and the same would hold true if I were shopping today.

Waterproof. You're using it on a boat. I usually just wash my tablet with the dishes after it's been out at the helm with the salt spray.

Bright screen. A tablet isn't much good if you can't see it. At the time I bought the Sony it was the brightest screen on the market, barely edging out the iPad. Screen brightness is measure in nits. It can be hard to find the specs, but a daylight readable screen is necessary and without shopping every brand and taking them outside, how else can you know?

Built in GPS. I've always been an android guy, and I was surprised to find out that many iPads don't have built in GPS.

Automatic screen dimming. I recently bought a cheap android tablet as a backup and was surprised to find that it doesn't have automatic screen dimming. I had always taken this for granted, but it's not so.

One thing that's not important is battery life. Using a tablet outdoors means the screen is turned up to full brightness, and using the GPS is always a battery suck. I don't care what tablet you get, none of them have a battery that will survive very long in those conditions. Better get a Scanstrut Rokk USB charge port.

Also, I use a very simple app called Screen Filter. Even with the screen on the lowest setting, I don't know of any tablet that gets dim enough to not kill your night vision. Screen Filter fixes that.

There are many here and other places on the net who will tell you they'd never use a tablet for navigation, but I can tell you the navigation apps such as Navionics are damn good, and use the same cartography that you can buy for your plotter. In fact, my brand new Garmin plotter's "Auto Guidance" feature wanted to run me right across an island in the Florida Keys, but my tablet knew better. No single source is perfect, not even paper charts.
Thanks much. I have a chart plotter but like you, enjoy the back up as well as the added information.
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Old 10-09-2019, 09:17   #9
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

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. . . No single source is perfect, not even paper charts.

Words to live by!
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Old 10-09-2019, 16:01   #10
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

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I wouldn't use ANY tablet for actual navigation.

I agree. There are a lot of downsides to depending on a tablet as a primary navigation device offshore.



As others have noted, they aren't dim enough at night and aren't bright enough in full daylight. Even the waterproof ones (or those in waterproof cases like Lifeproof) tend to lose watertight integrity when plugged in. For offshore use (the original question) you'll have to charge, at least if your definition of offshore is anything like mine.



Touchscreen navigation is very inconvenient in a sea. Consumer tablets are pretty fragile; portability increases the risk of damage.



I've used a phone for navigation for several thousand miles when onboard electronics failed (or became unstable) on deliveries. Phone/tablet is now a backup to my backup in my delivery go-kit.


Why do you, OP, think you want a tablet for offshore navigation?
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Old 10-09-2019, 16:47   #11
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

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Originally Posted by Msp1mlb View Post
What is the best tablet to use for navigation that holds charge best, has best internal GPS
This is sort of a trick question. The title of the thread is "Best tablet for offshore navigation". Well once you are off shore you really don't need one, unless you are using it for AIS display. And even then, if you have a Vesper, set the alarm for a crazy long range and turn off the MFD. If you get an alarm, use your phone to see what is going on and to acknowledge the display.

Offshore on long passages I turn off the MFDs and plot on paper every 3-4 hours- I can get a location from inReach, my phone (blue toothed to the inReach for messages) or I can turn stuff on.

When I need a plotter I use my iPad and back it up with my iPhone and third backup is the delivery vessel's MFD.
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Old 10-09-2019, 18:19   #12
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

Samsung Galaxy Tab Active 2, the newer version of the Tab Active. As mentioned earlier its water proof, it has a bright screen and its ruggedized. Not mentioned is that it comes with a smart stylist that attaches to the top so it won't get lost, it works great for creating routes. It has a replaceable battery so you can keep a spare. I run OpenCPN on it and have my cell phone, my wife's cell phone and my old Tab A as backups. All of them run OpenCPN and receive AIS. They all have their own GPS. I have not done any blue water cruising yet but when I do I will most likely leave the Active 2 running with the screen off (turn off OpenCPN's keep screen on option). I will also plan to setup an USB charger at the helm. I've had the old Tab A run out of battery near the end of several trips, in those case I just pulled out my cell phone to finish the trip but I would prefer not to.
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Old 10-09-2019, 18:36   #13
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

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Originally Posted by Snore View Post
This is sort of a trick question. The title of the thread is "Best tablet for offshore navigation". Well once you are off shore you really don't need one, unless you are using it for AIS display. And even then, if you have a Vesper, set the alarm for a crazy long range and turn off the MFD. If you get an alarm, use your phone to see what is going on and to acknowledge the display.

Offshore on long passages I turn off the MFDs and plot on paper every 3-4 hours- I can get a location from inReach, my phone (blue toothed to the inReach for messages) or I can turn stuff on.

When I need a plotter I use my iPad and back it up with my iPhone and third backup is the delivery vessel's MFD.
We use a very similar approach.

We use an iPad in a Lifeproof case but keep it down below. We use the helm mounted chart plotter every once and a while but not anything like daily. As per the post quoted here, we use an iPhone (also in a Lifeproof case) in the cockpit and a Vesper XB-8000 to keep an eye on course and speed, and with alarms set if anything big is coming close.

The chartplotter uses too much power and doesn't really tell us anything that the Vesper doesn't tell us. The iPad works well to help set the course which we monitor on paper as well. The iPhone is a very convenient size and doesn't use a lot of power.
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Old 11-09-2019, 01:24   #14
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

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. . . The chartplotter uses too much power and doesn't really tell us anything that the Vesper doesn't tell us. The iPad works well to help set the course which we monitor on paper as well. The iPhone is a very convenient size and doesn't use a lot of power.

Thread drift, but I always run my plotters offshore.



Because I always run radar with guard zones set, once I get far offshore.


Once I'm off the continental shelf, with no hazards around and nothing to see on the chart, I might leave the plotters switched to the radar screen, but they're on, and I run the generator once or twice a day to keep the batteries full of the power they need, which however, is a drop in the bucket compared to the refrigeration.



YMMV.
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Old 11-09-2019, 02:16   #15
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Re: Best tablet for offshore navigation

It's not a primary navigation item but we have a Microsoft surface go in a robust case that runs opencpn. We also use it for weather, sailmail, movies, etc.

Works great at an anchor alarm with inclusion/exclusion zones and the watchdog plugin.

It pairs with either a Garmin glo it out NMEA network via WiFi. If we have it connected to NMEA we can also view all our instruments including radar and AIS.

It's been a great little device.
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