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Old 10-09-2019, 13:26   #1
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New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

Just reading though the new iPhone announcements, it seems that we are finally getting devices that could make the MFD obsolete. The new iPhone 11 Max packs a 6.5" display, 1,200 nits and IP68 for about $1,100.

I hope that we will soon see large screen Android tablets with similar display specs. This will remove the last use case for going with an MFD, namely the sunlight visibility. Just comparing the iPhone specs with the specs of a similarly priced Axiom 7 or 9 display makes me cringe at the marine electronics industry. Here is my plan going forward:

- Go back to nmea 0183 sensors where possible. Nmea 2000 is too hard (expensive) to interface to computers. I have a good wind sensor (NASA), now need to find good depth and speed nmea sensors. One cheap way to go is a Garmin sonar that can output nmea 0183.

- Find a good radar that either works natively with an iPhone app (Furuno), can be hacked to work directly with the iPhone (Quantum) or the OpenCPN developers release a good plugin for iOS/Android for their supported radars

- Add an inexpensive serial to Wifi converter to get the sensor data in

- Find a good weather routing app for the iPhone (similar to Sailgrib on Android)

- May be keep my old Garmin 44dv at the helm as a backup but move everything to the new devices.

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Old 10-09-2019, 13:31   #2
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

Might as well hold a TV to your head to make a phone call...
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Old 10-09-2019, 13:57   #3
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

Apple, as usual, so far behind the competition.

Quote:
. Most smartphone displays are pretty terrible in sunlight, and while Samsung has made some strides here, bright days are still a weak point. With the Note 8's display, though, Samsung is upping the brightness levels by 22%. That puts the maximum brightness output of the Note 8 to a whopping 1200 nits.
Aug 28, 2017
https://9to5google.com/2017/08/28/sa...st-brightness/
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Old 10-09-2019, 14:26   #4
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

I have a Raymarine Axiom at the helm and multiple tablets which are usually below but sometime in use in the cockpit. My wife and I cruise with just the two of us aboard most times and we need navigation and instrumentation easily available at the helm all the time. I'm not seeing where a $1100 iPhone, or any phone or tablet, is a better device for the job than a $1000 9" Axiom. If you are price sensitive you can go cheaper with the 7". Want more screen real estate, go with the 12". Not endorsing Raymarine here, just giving examples of modern MFDs.
  1. I like the Axiom being hardwired to the radar and never worry about losing radar data due to the wifi connection dropping.
  2. The touchscreen on the Axiom works pretty well in all weather conditions. Rain, condensing fog, blistering hot sun, whatever. Just becasue a tablet is IP68 doesn't mean its touchscreen is going to behave in bad conditions.
  3. I'm not trusting an IP68 rating when there is a charge cable plugged in and it is raining sideways.
If you don't have or need a new chart plotter and can only afford one device then perhaps a tablet is the way to go. But I think a chartplotter/mfd is in reality easier to use and more reliable in the cockpit. And, most everybody has a phone anyway so as long as you've downloaded a few apps you have a backup for navigation and gps.
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Old 10-09-2019, 20:09   #5
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

I would never own a boat without a dedicated and mounted MFD and radar.

using a computer or ipad or iphone is a great backup.
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Old 10-09-2019, 20:12   #6
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

not quite sure why nmea200 is difficult, pretty easy with a n2k gateway via wireless or ethernet. I have a miniplex and the vepser does the same thing.
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Old 10-09-2019, 21:19   #7
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

Don't understand your problem with nmea2000. Mix and match the lot and use wifi for computers and other devices. My iPad pro is just as visible in full sunlight as my raymarine a-series, and the screen quality and responsiveness mean I'd never use a MFD as a primary display.
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Old 10-09-2019, 21:32   #8
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

As I discovered much to my chagrin on a recent boating excursion, all the waterproofing and screen brightness amounts to diddly squat when your fancy mil spec phablet is sitting on the bottom of the ocean


At least a bolted down MFD will only go down with the ship in normal use.
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:48   #9
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

In no way is a mobile phone a replacement for a MFD.

A MFD is a ruggedized, fit for purpose device. It must be reliable and responsive. Mobile devices are not this.
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Old 11-09-2019, 09:50   #10
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

I, for one, have no intention of forgoing my dedicated MFD for a 'smartphone'. I can't drop my MFD over the side or to the dock/floor/road/etc and break its screen nor do I have to worry about the battery charge running out or someone wanting to use it to make a call. IMO all the adapters and converters just add additional complexity and points of failure. I tried a 0183-2000 converter and it did not handle ALL the sentences I needed.
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:02   #11
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

OP proposes going back to NMEA 0183 which is a non starter. His solution is to add a plethora of external equipment in an attempt to make what should be a small device that fits in your pocket do everything my 12" MFD can do.

iphones are too big anyway that is why I use Samsung always. Fits fine even in my shirt pocket.

And I could not possibly read any of the details on a tiny screen or push the right softkeys while being bounced around in a rough sea and steering at the same time.
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:07   #12
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

just to add support for dedicated MFD hard wired throughout. Also the connectivity and reliability for interconnections between VHF radio, AIS display, and DSC alerts on MFDs as well. I just added AIS/DSC MOB devices to our PFDs and have our Axiom MFDs able to display any alerts.
phone and tablets are great back ups.
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:21   #13
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

"The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated" - Mark Twain

To say that a phone can replace your MFD is quite shortsighted, as is the remark about going back to NMEA 0183. If you really want to use a phone or tablet (I wouldn't, certainly not as a primary device), you should look at getting a device that extends your NMEA 2000 network to WiFi (such as the Vesper XB-8000), or look at NMEA OneNet that runs NMEA 2000 over Ethernet cabling.
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:34   #14
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

Hi, I recently completed the arc using a B n G system with wifi and used their app on iPad for a saloon view of the boat systems.


On the positive side its a cheap way to get another device view; meant I could complete logs and view systems from below without needing input from the cockpit; was a good technical and cost choice option when I included the wifi in the boat systems; meant I could transfer waypoint and route plans to the cockpit plotter without reentering the info.. All in all I've been quite happy..


Issues include; if this cockpit get covered by a wave which happened on occasion given the conditions the touch screen locked up; to resolved this I've fitted perspex covers over the plotters and wouldn't consider using the iPad in those coditions as well as for glare reasons... charging of the iPad requires electrical power which impacts on the power and recharging budget.... needs a high impact protective case and sturdy mounting bracket at the nav table.....


Bottom-line though is practise resilience.. keep a paper chart for when the power runs out ;-)
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Old 11-09-2019, 10:41   #15
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Re: New iPhones and the imminent death of the MFD

Most of my sailing is offshore, so my wind and speed instruments and MFD are mounted above the companionway where they can be seen when sitting in the cockpit.
Many people mount them in a pod above the wheel where they can only be seen when behind the wheel.

When entering or leaving a channel though, I have an android tablet (with Rayview) that I prop up behind the wheel as it is easier to see.

I can't imagine being in rough weather with phones or tablets being tossed around, getting soaked, or being underfoot. I do not think phones are going to cause "the imminent death of the MFD" for offshore sailors, maybe for intracoastal cruisers.

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