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High Performance Marine Parts Analysts Discuss Pros and Cons of Chart Plotters and Tablets

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Your High Performance Marine Parts Professionals Have the Scoop on Tablet and Chart Plotter Benefits 

Stainless Marine your high performance marine parts specialists would like to share with you these topics we thought would be of interest to you this month regarding the pros and cons of using a chart plotter or tablet.

Capt. Jon Cooper as well as your high performance marine parts analysts have fished the patch reefs on the Atlantic side of Florida’s upper Keys for years, using his chart plotter to zero in on small, rocky outcroppings to drop a line for tasty hogfish or dive for succulent lobsters.

So he went to Plan B. From his pocket, Cooper pulled out his iPhone loaded with the Navionics Boating app and entered the latitude and longitude for one of his favorite spots.

Your high performance boat engine parts specialists know that one thing’s for sure: Mobile devices are taking over more and more functions that were once the exclusive domain of pricey multifunction displays.

Your outboard performance boat parts professionals know that touchscreen mobile devices with special apps and wireless capabilities allow you to view and control complex systems such as chart plotters, fish finders, radar, autopilots, thermal imaging and even marine motors.

New examples of this emerge continually from marine electronics brands such as Garmin, Furuno, Raymarine and Simrad, as well as engine companies such as Mercury Marine.

Couple the Navionics Boating app with a Vexilar T-Box Wi-Fi hotspot to view a chart plotter and fish finder at once on your mobile device.

Wireless Wonders

A key element to a mobile device’s usefulness is wireless delivery of information to and from onboard systems. This allows you, for instance, to turn your smartphone into a fish-finder display.

To pull off this feat of mobile-device magic, you need a Vexilar SonarPhone system ($149.95,sonarphone.mobi), which includes a transom-mount transducer and a 12-volt-powered T-Box that serves as a Wi-Fi hotspot. 

The app allows you to connect wirelessly with a Wi-Fi-enabled sonar source such as a Raymarine Wi-Fish, Lowrance HDS Gen3 display or SonarPhone.

Radar Love

While chart-plotter and fish-finder apps illuminate what’s below the boat, other mobile technologies let you see around the boat. Furuno’s DRS4W 1st Watch Wireless radar system ($1,229, thegpsstore.com), for example, relies entirely on a smartphone or tablet to serve as the display. 

Yet the most remarkable and innovative examples of wireless control of an onboard system with a mobile device might be the RayControl app (for tablets) and RayRemote app (for smartphones).

This eliminates the need to toggle the camera in the direction you want to look — just point your mobile device. The thermal image is displayed on your phone or tablet, as well as the onboard display.

Pilot Programs

Autopilot remotes have been around for years, but mobile devices are making functionality inroads here as well. Technology — or perhaps liability concern — has not reached the point at which you can control a main propulsion system via a mobile device. Yet there are ways to keep tabs on your marine engine with a smartphone or tablet.

One of the most notable examples is Mercury Marine’s VesselView app. It provides wireless access to engine instrumentation and other data on both iOS and Android mobile devices. 

With the SonarChart Live feature on the Navionics Boating app, you can instantly record bottom details on your mobile device.

Mobile Movement

Your performance marine parts experts know that in many cases, the companies that offer today’s conventional marine displays are the same entities driving the trend toward developing apps for mobile devices.

You can find more information as well as get assistance on performance marine parts and on the pros and cons of using chart plotters and tablets at Stainless Marine.

Your High Performance Marine Parts Experts Suggest Taking the Time to Plan Your Next Trip

You carry the device aboard, secure it in a mount, and connect wirelessly with all systems. When you’re done for the day, you take it back home to review data or plan the next trip.

Your marine performance exhaust analysts say that this scenario somewhat parallels the decline of GPS displays in the automobile market where mobile devices with navigation apps now dominate.

The Bak USA Seal 8 marinized tablet is designed for boaters with a shock-resistant and waterproof case and a built-in GPS.

Visible Flaw

One of the biggest downsides of mobile devices is daylight viewing. If you have ever tried to read the screen on your smartphone or tablet in direct sunlight, you realize the problem — one that could threaten the safety of you and your crew if you misread information while navigating with a difficult-to-read mobile device.

“A marine multifunction display is daylight-viewable, but a tablet can be tough to read in bright sun,” says Jim McGowan, marketing manager for Raymarine.

Moisture poses another concern with mobile devices. Few are waterproof. Most marine displays, on the other hand, meet IPX7 standards for waterproofing. 

Make It Secure

The very mobility of a tablet or smartphone also poses problems aboard a boat. It’s difficult to hold, view and tap a mobile device while manning the helm. 

A solution comes in the form of mounting systems from companies such as RAM Mounts, which offers surface- and rail-mount, adjustable ball-and-socket mechanisms with special frames for securing tablets and mobile devices. 

Some boaters have expressed concerns about the processing speed in a mobile device. While marine electronics companies are reluctant to reveal processing specs, some reveal that those speeds are actually on par with, if not somewhat faster than, a number of high-end multifunction displays.


Garmin’s senior manager of marketing and sales, David Dunn, asked me to remove my sunglasses and hand them over as we idled along the Intracoastal Waterway off Miami, Florida.

Dunn attached a small device to the right temple of the sunglasses and gave them back. The Nautix features eight hours of always-on battery life and a wet-weather-friendly touch panel for rotating between displays. It weighs 1 ounce and can be mounted on the left or right temple. 

So don’t forget these helpful tips on choosing the right navigational device for you. 1) If you prefer radar systems, you will need a tablet;  2) if you need an autopilot feature, you might not want to use a tablet;  and 3) consider battery life of the device.

Stainless Marine has more information on high performance marine parts, performance marine parts, outboard engine brackets and on the pros and cons of using chart plotters and tablets.

via Marine Electronics 2.0: Tablet Versus Chart Plotter

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