Question of choice

A reoccurring question comes regularly by email from my visitors : which computer equipment to choose for yachting ? Actually, cope with the dramatic growth of material available for yachtmen, it becomes very difficult to form an opinion. By dint of giving partial answers to each other, often unsatisfactory, I ended up going to the evidence. Actually, choosing a navigation system based primarily on the answer to a question : for what need ?

So I tried to define these needs and to meet each an appropriate solution. This may seem a bit simplistic, but it was mainly the merit of simplicity. I took the opportunity to calculate the current budget to each of the solutions put forward a criterion that seems fundamental : the Need/Coast ratio. Let's go…

As I am a huge fan of the Mac, I choose, depending the context :

I equip my own boat, where I live and/or cruise frequently :

mac mini 2010

  • A Mac Mini entry-level
  • An Apple Keyboard (with necessary protection as iSkin model)
  • A waterproof multi-button wired mouse
  • An LCD 19″, lowest price
  • A Mac versatile software : MacENC
  • Navionics Gold chart Europe = 46XG

Total Cost new : 600 (*) + 48 + 25 + 40 + 140 + 150 + 210 = 1213 € (about)

I don't have my own boat, I rent or sail on friends boats :

macbook

  • A MacBook 13″ (the cheapest)
  • A Mac versatile software : MacENC
  • Navionics Gold chart Europe = 46XG
  • USB GPS receiver : BU-353

Total Cost new : 1149 (*) + 150 + 210 + 42 = 1551 € (about)

I'm looking for a portable solution at the best price :

ipad

  • A iPad Wifi 3G 16 Go with integrated GPS
  • iNavX (used both the iPhone AND iPad no extra cost)
  • Cartography Navionics 46XG for iNavX (from x-traverse.com)
  • X-traverse.com subscription

Total Cost new : 609 + 40 + 43 + 7 = 699 € (about)

I'm looking for an ultra-mobile solution with the functionality of an application PC / Mac, I already have an iPhone :

inavx

  • iNavX
  • Cartography Navionics 46XG for iNavX (from x-traverse.com)
  • X-traverse.com subscription

Total software cost (**) : 40 + 11 + 7 = 58 € (about)

Finally I want a simple ultra-mobile solution at the best price, I already have an iPhone :

navionics

  • Navionics Marine : Extended Europe, in direct loading from AppStore (with Navionics Mobile software packaged)

Cost Software (**) : 10 €

Summary

This gives solutions in a range of prices from 10 to 1550 € (**), corresponding to similar uses but in very different contexts. Defining your needs can therefore choose a Need/Coast ratio satisfactory.

Of course, other factors may come up, as the desire or not the use of an iPhone in real life, or the ability to connect with instruments on board, etc. But the question of need is paramount, and, in my opinion, the first to ask.


Note : Prices in euro may vary for charting purchased in U.S. dollars.

(*) Update price July 2011
(**) Excluding the cost of owning an iPhone, impossible to assess.

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