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View Poll Results: What charting software do you use as primary navigation tool?
OpenCPN 11 32.35%
Nobeltec Visual Navigation Suite (or Admiral) 8 23.53%
Rose Point Coastal Explorer 7 20.59%
Maptech Chart Navigator or Offshore Navigator 2 5.88%
Fugawi ENC 1 2.94%
Dedicated chartplotter 3 8.82%
Strictly paper 0 0%
Charts? I don't need no stinkin' charts! 0 0%
Other (please specify) 2 5.88%
Voters: 34. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 08-01-2011, 19:11   #1
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Opinions on Nobeltec VNS ?

Today I picked up on clearance sale VNS 7.0.702 for just under $7, thinking that at this price I couldn't go wrong. Of course it doesn't seem to work under Windows 7, but I noticed that there is a "limited time offer" to upgrade to VNS 10 (compatible with Windows 7) for $169.99.

$169.99 is not too unreasonable for a good and reliable charting package. So I'm looking for opinions as to its features and bugs. How does VNS compare with OpenCPN (free), Fugawi ENC (more expensive, but maybe much better?) Maptech Chart Navigator (also more expensive), etc. I would be using it mostly with NOAA and Canadian (BSB and ENC) charts.

Before I switched to Windows 7 I was using a package called ChartView, which I really liked. Unfortunately it was bought out by Nobeltec and support was discontinued many years ago.
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Old 09-01-2011, 08:49   #2
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I switched from Nobeltec 9.1 to Coastal Explorer and haven't looked back. Good riddance to Nobeltec's constant bugs and deceptive and authoritarian support and upgrade policies.

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Old 09-01-2011, 09:03   #3
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Major problem with VNS is that they no longer support ENCs. And the usual lack of bug fixes. Don't know how much the new owners are willing to invest in making it a more viable product. CE is very nice, feature rich, supports both raster and vector charts, and is constantly upgraded, but does plan to charge a $99/yr "maintenance fee" to keep you up to date. Both work fine under Windows 7.
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:16   #4
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i switched from an older version of nobletec to coastal explorer as well and i love it. everything is smooth user friendly and have never had a problem
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Old 09-01-2011, 09:22   #5
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was a nobeltic user for MANY years, I also switched to Coastal Explorer and love it,,, got tired of the problems and shitty customer service from nobeltic, my old nobeltic discs make great table top shuffleboard pieces,,,,
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Old 09-01-2011, 10:17   #6
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Any positive comments about VNS?

Thank you to all the responders so far. Seems like we have a consensus: VNS does not stack up well versus competition! Is there anyone with positive VNS experience?
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Old 09-01-2011, 10:21   #7
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I had 2 positive experiences with VNS,,, the day i bought it somewhere in 1998 and the day i made the discs into table shuffleboard pieces,,,, other than that not much to say,
the customer service really put me off,,,,
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Old 13-01-2011, 14:02   #8
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I stumbled on this thread and couldn't help but chime in. I'd love to know if your "shitty customer service" experience was a recent event, or one that happened prior to November 2009, when Nobeltec was under previous management. The reason I ask is that I am (as of new ownership, circa Nov 2009) the Manager of our Tech Support department and I'd welcome any and all input on how we can improve if we're doing something wrong. I have to say, since we took back our Tech Support and brought it back in house where it belongs, I've heard very few complaints from Customers about my team.

As far as the comments about "Nobeltec's constant bugs", we recently released v10.7 just for that reason, to clean up a lot of the issues that were created while under previous ownership. Version 10.7 was nothing but a bug fixing release where hundreds of issues were addressed and no new features (to distract from the goal of getting the software back in line) were added.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed to read only negative experiences with our software, because I know many people are having very positive experiences too. I suppose they're just not the ones being the most vocal, but I know they're out there. We want to change the image that was created for us by some bad decisions in the past and move forward to the future with some really exciting products set to be released in the very near future (by the Seattle and Miami Boat Shows). Feel free to PM me if you'd like to talk about something off the topic of this post.
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Old 13-01-2011, 14:07   #9
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I've been happy with it. My only experience with support was in the last year. The software doesn't give my speed because it only reads it out of one the available fields and my receiver doesn't populate that one. The reponse was quick although of no help. It will be fixed in the next version but not this one. In other respects it has functioned fine. I just received an email suggesting I update my charts and I appreciate the reminder.
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Old 13-01-2011, 14:12   #10
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my experience was pre 09 and it left such a bad taste in my mouth i vowed never to go near nobletech again. since i switched to coastal explorer ive found it much more stable easier interfaces and the only time i had to call support they were great.
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Old 13-01-2011, 14:27   #11
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I'm surprised at the complaints. We've been using Nobeltec for two years now, though the software when it loads up says from 2005 (I think version 8 ) The laptop (still running windows XP) was given to me when a family friend died, so though legal, it is not officially licensed to us. We love it, though have quite limited uses.

We use a GPS puck with it. We cruise locally in south-western BC using vector charts. The software doesn't appear buggy, nor has it ever crashed. The laptop is only used for navigation, we only feed GPS to it (no weather, wind, radar etc), nor does it feed out to an autopilot, and we are both rather tech-savvy.

That being said, our GPS seems to have died (as it isn't working on my personal laptop running openCPN either) and the computer isn't reading the new one. This is a problem with the laptop, and not Nobeltec. We will be very saddened if we are no longer able to use Nobeltec.

Perhaps I just don't know what i'm missing, as the only other software I've used is openCPN (our backup) which is good, though not as polished as nobeltec IMHO, and a quick play with Fugawi, which I didn't like.
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Old 13-01-2011, 14:33   #12
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Actually I got some good tech support recently (10/2010) on how to do some things. But an example from the past that is still infuriating-I last submitted it 10/2010:

"Alphabetization of the Mark List and Route Mark list were broken in the transition to 10.7 for Windows 7x64, makes it very hard to find the mark you are interested in when you have lots of them. This actually worked in 9.2 under Vista and got broken in the upgrade.
But the second picture shows something that never worked, still doesn't. When you want to insert a waypoint (AKA route mark) into an existing route, the choices are not alphabetized and the waypoint of interest is even harder to find. I included the pictures for tech support." I have submitted this problem regularly for years. Do you people never do route planning?
Response from actually very helpful Nobeltec tech support:
"As you can see, our techs have dealt with this issue before. Unfortunately, there is no immediate solution to the problem. We apologize for this inconvenience."
Instead, the last owners spent their effort removing ENC support. The only approved charts for global shipping. And the current owners have not put it back in, in spite of already having it working in 9.2.2218. So tech support seems to have improved, customer responsivenes is still in the dark ages of the previous owners. Compare a raster (Nobeltec) chart and a vector (Coastal Explorer) chart of the same area where it makes a difference, for example. Nobeltec also used to do it well when I bought the previous version, and I want to be able to switch views. So I use CE most of the time.
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Old 13-01-2011, 14:56   #13
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I will give the new owners of Nobeltec the benefit of the doubt regarding improved tech support, and the new version may have solved most of the bugs (I stopped at v9.2), but I will not consider going back to it until the ability to read ENC charts is restored.

The removal of that ability to use ENC charts (which has been present in every version of Nobeltec since the 90's until it was summarily removed in 2008-9) was done in an underhanded and contemptuous manner. It was a pure money grab, done only when the US government gave us all back those charts for free and Nobeltec, having lost their unique access to those data, couldn't make money from putting proprietary wrappers around the very same charts.

In my opinion, the refusal to reinstate that ability by the new owners speaks volumes.

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Old 13-01-2011, 15:55   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by serah View Post
That being said, our GPS seems to have died (as it isn't working on my personal laptop running openCPN either) and the computer isn't reading the new one. This is a problem with the laptop, and not Nobeltec. We will be very saddened if we are no longer able to use Nobeltec.
I've gone through a couple of "pucks" that I believe sat on the shelf too long. Some of them have batteries built into them and I believe that mine died. The unit I have now doesn't have batteries in it and seems to be doing well. The two that falied were made by a company in Vancouver. They very promptly replaced the first ... I didn't ask after the second failed instead I bout a GlobalSat MR-350 which, as I said, serves me well (except for the previously mention speed reading).
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Old 14-01-2011, 09:16   #15
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Opinions on Nobeltec VNS?

I refuse to use navigation/charting software that will only read the vendor's proprietary chart format - Nobeltec in VNS 10 restricts the user to charts puchased (or in the case of the US NOAA charts, re-purchased) through Nobeltec. My parents use Nobeltec, and they will not upgrade beyond version 9.2 as 9.2 was the last version to support non-proprietary chart formats.

To the same end, MaxSea is not an option as it only reads .mm3d-wrapped cartography.

Coastal Explorer and Fugawi both read a variety of chart formats, and both are candidates.

I have been running Coastal Explorer on the boat for 3 years now, and it's worked well for the North American west coast.

So, to answer you question directly: the software may be inexpensive (for you, in this case), the cartography will not be.

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