GPS is the most used method for marine navigation. However, it can be a bit of a challenge to use with a conventional tablet. This is where a marine tablet comes in. These tablets are specifically designed to be used on boats with added features such as a splash resistant casing and WiFi or satellite links. In this blog post, we will look at some of the best tablet for marine navigation on the market.
An Android device seems like the obvious choice in this case, but there are some big differences between iOS and Android that need consideration before choosing one over the other. I currently own both an Android phone (Samsung Galaxy Nexus), and an iPad 2, so am able to compare these two platforms fairly easily.
One of the biggest factors with any electronic device for boating purposes is water resistance/proof rating. There are conflicting opinions on this matter, but it appears that most people lean towards the idea of being able to use an iPad in the rain or out of the water. For example, if your boat is rocking back and forth in a bay, there’s a good chance you could get some splashes on your device while trying to read a chart, whereas a Galaxy Nexus might be too much of a hassle. If being able to use your device in wet conditions isn’t important to you though, then Android will have no issue since they are usually more affordable than iPads (and thus can be replaced more easily).
Another factor is screen size/resolution (which also ties into price). An iPad has such great resolution that when watching movies/TV shows I actually prefer to watch them on my iPad, even though it’s smaller. Talk about screen envy! On the other hand, an Android phone (or tablet) seems like a better choice for apps like charting or trying to read nautical books/charts since you’ve got much more screen real estate available. The weight of your device also matters; if you’re planning on making this your primary navigation tool then I’d recommend getting an Android tablet instead of an iPhone because Android tablets are heavier than iPhones, and that extra weight will be well worth it when you’re using them as electronic charts.
Best Tablet For Marine Navigation 2022
1. Garmin RV 785 & Traffic
The Garmin RV 785 has a real-time navigational chart that you can zoom into to get close enough resolution to spot details like buoys and other small objects. The high-resolution display, which is 10 inches in size, is perfect for viewing charts on the go. It comes preloaded with U.S. coastal charts that are very detailed when it comes to showing structures like bridges, locks, dams and even harbors.
The Garmin RV 785 also has built-in Wi-Fi for seamless connectivity to your home or office network so you can quickly access weather updates, software updates, new charts and other dynamic content.
- Large display that can be viewed from a good distance.
- High-resolution display.
- Preloaded U.S. coastal charts.
- No built-in GPS on this model, but does support external GPS modules (Garmin recommends the Garmin GLO or GXM 52).
2. Samsung Galaxy Tab A
Another great choice if you’re looking for a tablet with high-resolution display is the Samsung Galaxy Tab A. The 10.1 inch screen has a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, making it perfect to view all those detailed charts and other critical information that you need while boating or sailing. It also comes preloaded with a bunch of useful apps that are marine friendly such as eCognition MAX, iMarine Navionics+, Marine Traffic, Splash ID and more. The additional features are also great for other applications such as navigation, flight planning or even home security systems, so it’s a good investment no matter what your needs are.
- Perfectly sized for use at sea.
- High resolution display with 1920 x 1200 pixels.
- Preloaded apps that can be useful.
- GPS is not built-in to this model; you will need to purchase an external GPS receiver (not included) in order to track where you are and how fast you are going.
3. Gramin Drivesmart 55 $ Traffic
This tablet is another solid choice if you’re looking for a marine tablet with high resolution screen and preloaded map data. It comes with a 7-inch high-resolution display that you can view from up to 1000 feet away, so it’s easily visible when close to docks or other potential hazards. GPS receiver is built in and the tablet also has Wi-Fi connectivity for updates, weather reports etc.
The most interesting feature is definitely the integrated traffic function. This is very useful if you are sailing near busy areas like harbours or marinas since it will alert you when there are vessels around you so you don’t have to guess how far away they are.
- High resolution display which can be viewed at distances of up to 1000 feet.
- Built in traffic alerts notifies you when ships or ferries pass by your location.
- No built-in GPS on this model; requires external GPS receiver (not included) if you want to track your location and speed.
4. Dragon Touch K10
This tablet is another solid choice for a marine environment since it has a 7 inch display with high resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels and also comes preloaded with some useful apps like Marine Traffic and eCognition MAX. It’s powered by quad core 1.2 GHz processor with 1GB RAM which makes it very responsive in most applications including navigation or chart plotting.
The Dragon Touch K10 is equipped with an internal storage space of 16 GB, but you can also expand the memory by 32 GB via microSD card slot which is great if you need additional map data.
- Good for boating/sailing since it has a 7 inch screen with 1280 x 800 pixel resolution which can be easily viewed at distances of up to 5 feet (when held at around 30 degrees).
- Includes Marine Traffic and eCognition MAX apps that are useful during navigation, speed plotting or even collision avoidance.
- Quad core processor with 1GB RAM ensures snappy performance for all operations including chart plotting, GPS tracking etc.
- Addition of a microSD card will require you to take out the battery in order to swap it, which can be inconvenient.
5. Lenovo Tab 2 A7
Last but not least is Lenovo’s offering that has much in common with other tablets on this list such as high resolution display and preloaded map data.
This one comes with a 7 inch screen and 1280 x 800 pixel resolution (similar to Dragon Touch K10) and also has an internal storage space 16 GB.
It runs Android 4.4 KitKat operating system and supports external GPS receivers, so it’s well suited for use during boating or sailing.
Like most devices these days, it also features built in Wi-fi connectivity so you can download updates and similar data.
- High resolution display with 1280 x 800 pixel resolution can be easily viewed from up to 5 feet away, so it’s suitable for pre navigation plotting, collision avoidance or even chart reading from a distance of around 30 degrees.
- Supports external GPS receivers if you want to track your location and speed during the trip, but you can also use the built in internal tracker if that is not necessary.
- This model does not have a built-in GPS. If tracking your location and speed is an issue for you, you will need an external GPS receiver (not included).
All in all, most of the tablets mentioned above are best tablet for marine navigation and you ultimately need to decide which is best depending on what you’re looking for. As a starting point, we recommend going with Dragon Touch K10, which can be found at a reasonable price and has great features, including preloaded maps.
It supports external GPS as well, so it makes it versatile to use during trips.