Are tablets taking the place of chart plotters?
In last Friday’s post titled What Would You Pack In Your Bag, the owner and developer of Active Captain, Jeffrey Siegel, recommended a GPS-capable iPad with charting software installed. For the record, my iPad mini with Garmin Bluechart Mobile installed on it will definitely be traveling with us. This initiated a conversation for us though, are tablets taking the place of actual marine chart plotters?
Of course, having redundant systems is always the best answer but for those with limited cash, what’s the best to buy? Off the top of my head, the one feature that I can think of that a tablet is not able to do is directly interface with a boat’s autopilot. Is that feature alone worth the additional money?
I had also heard a suggestion that the internal GPS of the iPad may not be sufficiently accurate, hence the availability of aftermarket external GPS antennas that can be either hardwired to the iPad, or linked by Bluetooth. My limited research (Google) did not seem to back that up. I found only references to airplane pilots using these, and not for accuracy issues but for reliability reasons (you definitely wouldn’t want to lose your GPS signal on final landing approach if that was your only method of navigation). Is that necessary for a mariner though?
And while we’re on the subject of tablets, if you’re presently using one, what is your favorite charting app?