Monday, January 19, 2009

Review: Navionics Charts

Wasn't 100% sure could justify buying those Navionics charts but in then end was just too intrigued as to what would get to resist.

So what do you get for £ 37.99? Well for a start you get a LOT of charts. The screenshot above shows just the top level charts and you can see they cover not just a single folder such as the Solent, and not just the UK, but Ireland and the Channel from Brittany to Denmark.

It links in with the iPhone's GPS so you could use it to navigate from my apartment in London, travel down the Thames, across to France, potter along the coast, into the ports of Jersey and Alderney, back across to Cornwall, across to the Fastnet Rock, up the Irish Sea, and then on up to Scotland. With all ports, all passages, all charts stored internally on the iPhone.

And this from an iPhone that is also doing email, web, browser, spreadsheets, games, photos, music, and of course the odd phone call. Amazing!

Its certainly a lot of chart data for your money and its all vector not raster data so zooming in and out and panning from side to side is quick and icons such as buoys are scaled right.

But there are some things missing that makes it a "chart viewer" rather than navigation piece of software. You can't put in any waypoints or use it to work out course over ground. It doesn't have an instruments view like the iNavX application. You can't use it to work out tide triangles and course to steer: it is a static this is where you are and this is what is out there application.

I'm hoping that like most iPhone applications it will be updated and all these good things come. For the time being if you are in the US the iNavX app looks a better choice and includes all the US charts. However they don't have data covering Europe.

So for European sailors wanting to navigate on your iPhone this is the one to get. If nothing else you'll have a lot of fun as an armchair sailor remembering voyages of the past and planning future ones.

Update: also see my review of update to the software here.


O Docker said...

Curiously, I've found with GPS I no longer worry too much about computing a course to steer. I don't even use the compass much anymore.

If you just steer so that the GPS says you're headed for the next waypoint, it will automatically compensate for any current, drift, or leeway (and show your VMG, too). I'm often amazed, when we're in strong cross currents and the next waypoint is in sight, how far away from the waypoint I have to steer so that the GPS says we're actually going there.

I use the 'distance off course line' feature quite a bit to make sure we're not drifting into shoals or evil axis territory while heading for the next waypoint.

Does the iPod app let you select a point on the screen and give you an indication of whether you're 'on course' to that point?

JP said...

You're right in that with GPS you get COG and course to waypoint directly. But its good to have a course to steer as starting point and in case electronics fail.

Problem with Navionics s/w is that there is no option to enter way points and no feedback identifying the current COG nor whether on course, let alone VMG etc

O Docker said...

After reading your post, I checked the iNavX site, and it seems to have all of the basic GPS displays and features you would need to actually navigate - even a nice on/off course display at the top.

I was hoping it would run on an iTouch - and it does run - but no GPS receiver.

If you have an iPhone stateside, iNavX looks like an amazing inexpensive backup GPS.

And now the verification word is - I swear:


JP said...

iMaties - love it!

We should trademark it immediately

James said...

Hi - is ti just me or is there no chart info for north england and scotland?????