iThing boating, Rose Point’s in, Maretron too


I’ve been using an iPad for a week now and — sorry, Steve — I’m not yet feeling “the magic“.  But just the fact that I can envision so many improvements to something already so cool speaks to how amazingly fast this wireless, touch screen, app device phenomenon is moving.  My iPhone and iPod Touch have been almost magically transformed by iOS 4 (coming soon to the pad) and my Android phone is such a hotbed of fertile app chaos that it sometimes gets hot quite literally.  And almost everything that’s useful and fun about these devices is doubly so on my boat, with loads of room to grow.  Which is why I suggested to the NMEA Conference crowd on Saturday night — I got to make a little spiel again when the Technology Award was presented — that integrating marine electronics with these things is an important challenge to them (along with addressing some of your diverse grumblings, like fixing some issues with NMEA 2000).  It’s also why I asked many manufacturers in the exhibition hall what their iThing plans are, if any, and, by golly, there are some good things coming…

I was particularly interested in where Rose Point Navigation is on this subject, as it’s always been a Windows shop and, in fact, founder Brad Christian already had a career as a Microsoft programmer as did much of his staff.  Well, not to worry, they’re into iPads and among the many, many new products and features Rose Point is rolling out over the next few weeks is the ability to turn an iPad into an elegant second, third, or fourth (or more!) display for Coastal Explorer 2011.  It’s not an app per se, but instead a neat way to use an app called Air Display.  Brad showed me how easy it was to set up a choice of iPad navigation and instrument screens, and that’s Rose Point developer Garth Hitchens using one on the flying bridge of his handsome Fleming 50 as we cruised around Lake Union and Lake Washington Friday night.  (A significant number of Rose Point staff own and use significant vessels, and that’s got to be a good thing.)
   I also saw Rose Point’s brand new black box fishfinder in action, along with its new NMEA gateway, and its new analog-engine-to-N2K translator, and more that I’m looking forward to writing about soon.  In the meantime, just today Maretron announced (PDF here) the availability of its N2KView app, free {demo} at the iTunes store, and an Android version coming.  And wait til you hear what Navionics is up to!


Ben Ellison

Ben Ellison

Panbo editor, publisher & chief bottlewasher from 4/2005 until 8/2018, and now pleased to have Ben Stein as a very able publisher, webmaster, and editing colleague. Please don't regard him as an "expert"; he's getting quite old and thinks that "fadiddling fumble-putz" is a more accurate description.

27 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    Ben, this is exciting news and it doesn’t surprise me that Rose Point is in the forefront (again).
    Separately, it’s worth mentioning an important point about the iOs version of Maretron N2KView. N2KView licensing is based on the server connection, so while the app itself is free (as is their desktop client software), it won’t connect to your boat’s N2K network unless you purchase a license.
    If you want to extend your Maretron monitoring system onto another screen — whether that is an iPad or a laptop screen — you need to buy a “second station” client license. Those have a street price of around $400.

  2. Adam says:

    Sorry, I should have added that I confirmed this information with Maretron directly.

  3. Dingo says:

    I saw you at the conference trying to type on your iPad. Not a lot of fun as i can attest. I received one for my kids at home and there are some decent apps for them but data entry isn’t the strong suit of the product. Browsing is OK but, a laptop is more confortable unless you get a “kick-stand” cover for it. Battery life is excellent at about 8hrs.
    I brought it down to a boat a couple weeks ago and was actually scared to use it on the water. It is just too thin and too slippery even with the snap on cover I purchased. It required two hands for me to feel secure like I wouldn’t drop it and then I didn’t have an extra hand for me to hold on. The apps that involve shaking it to get a new site word for my six year old or ones that involve moving it around by using the internal sensors simply don’t work on a moving boat by the way. I also had to lock the screen because it kept flipping around.
    Try going through the ballard locks and leaving it on the console like it is in the picture. It won’t be there long.
    No I/O ports(not even a micro SD card), expensive 3G service, Hands-Held only, scary slippery, questionable water resistance, beg for mercy warranty from Apple(I know this from an iPhone experience)…
    I’ll keep my one hander iPhone in my pocket and my cheap laptop down below. I do agree that more marine iPhone apps would be nice.

  4. Dave says:

    Im with you Ben on not feeling “The magic” of the Ipad, I like teh Iphone, but the Ipad, well not enough connectivity, good idea, bad implementation.
    PS: remember back when, there was going to be a user report on Openport and Fleetbroad, did it every happen

  5. Bremer Speck says:

    My personal experience with the iPad is the opposite. I love the simplicity of using it and have not touched my laptop since I got my Wifi/3G iPad several months ago. I use it for business purposes. Mostly for email. The keyboard is ok, it is about the same size as a notebook. But, unlike a notebook/laptop, which you need to open, then switch on, then wait for it to boot, then open your mail application, then log-in using your user name and password, and 10 minutes later, you are finally ready, with the iPad, reading mail on my primary email account is literally a 2 click operation and takes 5 seconds. While these remarks may appear off topic, I hasten to add, that I do have “tons” of navigation, weather and other boating related apps and have used it on the boat. Finally, I cannot wait to load the next version of the OS, due out in November, which will add printing and many other functions.

  6. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Dave, The Openport vs Fleet Broadband 150 testing definitely did happen, thanks to Gram Schweikert, both here and in Yachting and Cruising World. Here’s the final Panbo installment (which has links to earlier pieces):

  7. Dr. X says:

    Another problem with the iPad is that it does not handle heat well. A couple times this summer in the med, it would not turn on because it was too hot.
    And of course it is hard to read in the sun.
    On the good side, the battery life is good.

  8. Patrick - sv Deep Playa says:

    So, the FREE Maretron app only costs $900 to use…. so kind of them. FAIL!

  9. Jeffrey Siegel says:

    I originally got my iPad to experiment with and to see what a tablet device would be like to use. I had no intention of using it for real – frankly, I had no idea where the extra time would come from.
    Then the magic did happen…
    I use the thing for a few hours every day. I’ve been using it for all presentations on the speaking circuit I’ve been doing this Fall (Solomons Krogen rendezvous next) – projecting the slide display like a normal PC with the 15 pin video cable from Apple. Having a case helps a lot. It’s slippery and difficult to get comfortable with unless you have some type of case that can create different types of triangles for holding in your lap or on a table.
    In my normal life, using new generation apps like Flipboard save me time every day. If you’re thinking, Flipwha? …then you’re not really in a position to see the magic. Same with the iBooks/iPad app and a variety of others. The fairy dust isn’t with the hardware – it’s the software, SDK/API, and incredible consistency. You can’t just pick up an iPad and use a few apps for a few days. You have to get into the mindset, and there’s a new mindset. Ben, the future of Panbo is something like Flipboard – experience it and you’ll see.
    On the boat, the iPad is a fantastic weather device – I leave it running all the time grabbing the current weather conditions, updating the radar animation, and keeping a general watch. I also use the various nav products for exploration and planning providing a larger display than the various iPhones onboard. It makes a pretty nice email device and a wonderful web browser even if the major capability section of my own web site can’t be used with it (there are other, better ways). Onboard I use it with both Verizon and AT&T – easily possible through MiFi-like devices.
    I toy with the idea of ripping out all of the displays at my helm and putting in 4 iPads – chartplotter, radar, weather, and remote video (engine room, stern, etc). The software to do this isn’t out there yet although things like Air Display allow transitional use now – been playing with that too. The current iPad also has some sunlight readability issues which I hope will be addressed to make my toying a reality. But imagine unclipping one unit and taking it to the flybridge or engine room to maintain full instrument display while remote from the main helm. Of course, access to every manual and log entry would also be with you in a form easily searchable – that can be done now.
    The last report was that 28 million iPads have been sold with a current sales rate of about a million a week. There must be a lot of people out there “feeling” it. Count me as one of them.

  10. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Thanks, Jeffrey. I will certainly not judge the iPad on a week’s use, and that not even on board. I was just trying to make a point about how fast this stuff is improving (and kind of forgot that a little negativity might provoke comments ;-). My bigger point is that this whole hardware/software phenom is very important to boaters. Why I bought the darn thing!

  11. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Clarification on Maretron N2KView licensing: You can use a single license with multiple computers, iPad/iPhone included, as long as you are only using one at a time. If there are two licenses on the N2KView server, then you can use any two instances of client software simultaneously, etc. So for many users who just want to use the new iApp to keep track of things when they’re off the boat, or the main PC is shut down, the N2KView app is a freebie.

  12. Jamie says:

    Fantastic Ipad engineering. Now if someone would build a waterproof mountable case where you could just put the Ipad in the case, close it and not worry. Or a case where you could carry it to the boat (waterproof) and mount it on a bracket!! Genius!! Stay tuned!!! 😉

  13. Bremer Speck says:

    There was a post by Jamie on Tuesday afternoon (which may have disapperared from this thread), wherein he or she was day-dreaming and wishing for a waterproof iPad display case. Guess what? Somebody thought of that already. OTTER BOX. 2 versions you find here

  14. JK XLR8 says:

    Thanks Ronald!
    Environmental Protection:
    This case provides added protection against bump, shock, drop and dust intrusion. Case is NOT protective against water.
    APL2-IPAD1 Tech Specs

  15. steverow says:

    All power to Brad, Garth, Steven and Jeff etc.
    They thoroughly deserve it with the amount of development and thought that goes into their products.
    Thumbs up to RP. Just sorry I wasn’t there…maybe next time..or perhaps you can have one in the UK..everybody would be very welcome.

  16. Bremer Speck says:

    Sorry about that! I assumed that all Otter Boxes are waterproof.

  17. Phalpal says:

    I used the iPad from Ketchikan to Seattle using the British Columbia Navionics. Worked really well and the Nav chart I like better than the Canadian Charts. Can’t use it in the dark very well and had to switch to the iNavX. For $24.00 it beats my 504 Garmin like crazy. I would have to spend another couple hundred on the garmin just for the candian charts.

  18. Dave says:

    Jeffrey, If you seriously think Im going to leave the electronics of my boat in the hands of a consumer based piece of equipment. Its worth looking around at industrial computing, see much apple stuff no. Why cause the hardwares junk. See the failure rate of Itouchs, etc.
    Sure get “into the mindset” I’ll take specific engineered hardware any day
    Anyway other manufacturers always come along and take apples crown away, thats what happens when you insist on closed propriatery systems

  19. SanderO says:

    You seem to have teased a lot of functionality for the iPad on board. What I think you should do is produce a little youtube about it, how you do it and how it works.
    I find the iPhone3G too small and too slow and annoying as it flips from landscape to portrait. I’d like a course up display with a nice compass rose or some decent lat lon lines. I also find the pan and zoom interface not very good.
    Since I don’t need printing OB the iPad seems like a good approach to internet, email and so forth. I have a hard time adjusting to different keyboards in general… this maybe a unique problem to me, but data entry on a Iphone is a drag.

  20. David Weston says:

    Dave (and all the other iPadnaysayers),
    I agree with you that the world is truly flat! Good job!

  21. Jeffrey Siegel says:

    > Anyway other manufacturers always come along
    > and take apples crown away, thats what happens
    > when you insist on closed propriatery systems
    I’m not a fan of a lot of Apple’s practices, especially as a developer. And although I’ve written publicly (MadMariner, etc) about issues with the early iPhone, Apple made a lot of changes and did listen to their customers.
    Today the largest company in the US by market capitalization is Exxon/Mobile.
    Dave – do you know who the second largest company is? It’s Apple. Bigger than IBM, Microsoft, GE, Wal-Mart, and everyone else. What crown has been taken away from Apple?
    > What I think you should do is produce a little youtube
    > about it, how you do it and how it works.
    If only I could figure out how to get away without sleep. Then again, there’s a bilge area that could use painting too.
    My blog has some early screen shots taken onboard:
    Click on any image to get the full resolution of the screen. Also, SanderO, that Navimatics Charts & Tides software shown will do moving map course-up display using NOAA charts all quilted together with all of our ActiveCaptain data offline so no internet connection is needed to view any of it.

  22. JK XLR8 says:

    I was wondering about offshore internet on the Ipad. There are companies that offer sat inet for a very expensive price. I have heard wifi connectivity problems to wifi boosters on the Ipad…are there any other ways to gain internet access to the inet on the Ipad economically while being a few miles offshore?

  23. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    JK, I added Verizon’s Mobile Hotspot service to my Droid Incredible phone and the iPad can use it fine. In other words I have a personal hotspot I can use with up to five WiFi devices wherever I can get Verizon 3G or Edge service. It does run the phone’s battery down quickly, and it does cost an extra $20/month for up to 2 gigs of data with the excess (which I managed to reach already) prorated at about $10/gig.
    By contrast, I can USB tether the same phone to a PC for no extra charge beyond the phone’s $30/month data fee, which is truly unlimited, at least so far. MiFi and other devices can do the same cell data to WiFi trick, but data service rates seem to be a moving target.

  24. Jeffrey Siegel says:

    Cellular technology is pretty good for getting an internet connection offshore for a few miles – at least along the east coast. At 10 miles, a lot of the signal falls off. We do it all the time using both Verizon and AT&T. You definitely need a good amp/antenna combination to get past a mile or two offshore.
    Interestingly, Verizon has apparently announced today that they will be selling the WiFi iPad with a MiFi at the end of THIS month:
    This has created quite a buzz about the obvious probability of seeing a Verizon cellular iPad and iPhone coming soon.

  25. JK XLR8 says:

    Very good info. I looked online and it looks like it costs at least $500 per month to get satellite internet….with very low bandwidth. Has anyone tried the bullethp2 with a wireless router to the Ipad and if so, how far out have you received signal? I think it would be great to put huge inet transmitters on the old loran towers…and charge subscriber fees economically…

  26. steverow says:

    The secret to Offshore Broadband is to use more than one Network Carrier.
    In the UK we have Hutchison 3G 1900/2100, which falls back to Orange GPRS/EDGE when out of Hutchison Three range.This will do a comfortable 10-15 miles offshore in most UK sailing places. Adding in a second network operator which uses All technologies ie 900/1800/2100 like Vodafone or O2 gives you 900 GPRS and or Edge as far as the radio horizon, with a high mounted system. That Equates to about 35 miles or a bit more especially in the English Channel, and I have heard it said that one can keep in contact all the way over the Channel, with Voda, Jersey Telecom and then the French newtorks.
    This link will show the Extent of UK 3G coverage as at January 2009, since then there has been a massive expansion by Three UK which has improved things greatly. This only shows 1900/2100 Coverage.
    Look at Orange 3G/Edge Coverage Here:
    There are also rumblings about 3G going on to 900Mhz
    as well as new Lower Frequency Bands becoming available for MB when the TV Digital transistion is finished here next year ish.
    As far as Satellite Internet goes over here, there is now a new kid on the block in the form of the Astra SES group, (Sky TV etc), they have turned over their Bird at 23 deg east to datacomms and with off peak subscriptions at only £29.95 per month
    and with a max D/L rate of 4Mb/s (compared to IM’s FleetBB of 150Kb/s). And it’s footprint is GeoS Pan European.
    Watch this Space…..

  27. Ben Ellison Ben Ellison says:

    Maretron’s N2KView is now also available for Android 2.2 devices:

Join the conversation

Your email address will not be published.