I thought I would give a review of my $200 Nexus 7 Android tablet. I'm 2/3 of the way through a month-long cruise
down the Texas
coast. The N7 was purchased primarily for navigation
access on this trip. I personally find a laptop
to be overkill for my needs. The tab is cheaper, more portable, lower power consumption
, and has the gps
built in. My laptop
required a gps
dongle. Those were my reasons. You may need "real computing", I do understand that an Android tablet can't do much of what a real comp can.
was fast (2days) and packaging was solid. Since I've been using android phones for years, the system was familiar. I do like that there is no "extra" stuff like HTC or others put on the phones. But if you don't like Google
, MOVE ON! lol
I immediately downloaded 4 things: CF App, Facebook, MXMariner, and Kindle Reader. When using MXMariner one downloads the needed chart groups so that no connection is needed. I was pleasantly surprised that even though I downloaded the entire US, it took very little space. I currently still have 12GB available. I've added several apps, some boat related. Using Google Play (App Store) is very easy, and still there are many free apps.
The CF app is ok. I wish I could enlarge the fonts. I'm a bit visually challenged, otherwise it's fine.
MXMariner is just like OpenCPN
...almost. I know nothing about making an app, so I don't know why there are differences. But it works fine. Here in TX NOA charts
are just barely better than nothing where depths are concerned. But they are very accurate for where ports
, markers, and channels are. I compared the N7 to 2 handheld GPSs, and they all agreed. I have no question about the functionality in that sense. I also use Hook-n-Line fishing
maps as they are far more updated and accurate in depths. These have GPS reference spots and the N7 agreed with those as well. There are now RNC versions and I will probably buy them when I can verify I will be able to use them on the N7.
The ability to carry my "charts" in a very small package all over my boat is really nice. I'm solo so I have to be all over the boat, I love carrying the N7 wherever I go. I found it VERY surprising how well I can see it in bright daylight under the Bimini
, and actually even in direct light. I don't know why, but I can't see it straight on with my polarized sunglasses, a minor inconvenience. NO I'm not saying this replaces good nav practices or Mark1 Eyeballs. PLEASE don't start paper vs electronic here :-)
I read mostly e-books from Kindle. I signed in and all my books
were available, just like my other devices. If you don't know, almost all the classics (like Mark Twain :-) ) are available for free. Also MANY boating/cruising books
for free/cheap. Again, the sunlight "viewability" was a shocker. Truly fantastic.
Other apps I've been using a lot are Google Earth
and Netflix. I use the mobile hotspot on my smart phone
connection. I've been going up and down this coast for years and I'm so surprised at how much the coverage of my ATT 4G HAS IMPROVED. So far, even in the most remote
of areas, I've yet to be without a bar or two, and most places 3 to full. I have another free app called "Drag Queen" that is an anchor
watch. It really works well. I Facebook all my travels and it's fun to be able to do it real time even in extreme remote anchorages
. If you're not into that FINE! Don't need to rain on my parade.
use is just OK, but then GPS on any device is a power drain. I have multiple charging
locations to deal with that. I've dropped it twice, so far so good. It isn't waterproof of course. That will be a concern for wet boats. Mine is dry in the extreme, and when things get a little wild or rainy, I can put it just inside the STB companionway
and still see it. Cases are available of course.
I operate at an economic level below most CF users, I build most of what I need, and have to get by with a lot of non-marine stuff. Even so I sail a LOT (every week, often several days) so I'm pretty good at making stuff work for a lot less. I'm NOT saying this device replaces your $800 (or more) plotter. But it will get me to the same anchorage...and I'll be able to afford a beer
as well, even on my limited finances.
That's my take. YMMV