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Thread: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

  1. #36
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    I picked up a WinBook TW801 - $149. (Windows 8.1) and a $30. USB GPS GlobalSat 07-BR-355-S4 GPS Receiver.

    Using it with SeaClear (free) and the NOAA charts (free)

    Works OK as a backup, long battery life, but screen glare is an issue.

    Has wifi, usb, and micro SD -

  2. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by andy56328 View Post
    I picked up a WinBook TW801 - $149. (Windows 8.1) and a $30. USB GPS GlobalSat 07-BR-355-S4 GPS Receiver.

    Using it with SeaClear (free) and the NOAA charts (free)

    Works OK as a backup, long battery life, but screen glare is an issue.

    Has wifi, usb, and micro SD -

    What's the SeaClear software like? I've never heard of that before. I thought OpenCPN was the only free chart plotting software out there.
    "And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by..."

  3. #38
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    A quick report from a trip from Franklin, Tasmania to Adelaide, South Australia, with various devices on board with navigation software installed. The proprietary ship's nav plotter using a standard computer screen for display, running something like C-MAP, I think, was superb. Only gripe was the brightness of the screen at night, so we ran with the screen off for periods of time and switched it on to check progress and do course corrections. I ran Navionics, the cheapest option available for download at around $14, on two Android devices and found them very useful for both planning and tracking, but with limitations. The downsides were the battery use on the phone, which required a daily top-up, and the screen brightness on both the tablet and the phone, not suitable in full daylight. Fine in the coach-house where the main nav station lives. The phone is a Samsung Galaxy S5, the tablet an Asus EeePad Transformer. The skipper had an iPad with Navionics, and although I didn't play with it myself, it was used for route planning and tracking under way, but only as a minor player because the main nav plotter works very well and did all the job required. Navionics on the iPad seemed to have more tracking/navigating functionality than I had on the Android devices, with the same charts. I got the feeling that a weatherproofed iPad would be a very valuable backup system for any coastal navigation needs - your choice of primary system. Hopefully the skipper will add something about the iPad running Navionics.
    When I first joined WBF they made me write a book to prove I was a real yachty. I was so gullible.
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  4. #39
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Nice report, Bruce. Thanks! I share your opinion about poor screen visibility for mobile devices in sunlight.

    Only gripe was the brightness of the screen at night, so we ran with the screen off for periods of time and switched it on to check progress and do course corrections.
    Some nav software has the function of displaying in " night" mode--ie, the screen image is rendered as though through a green or red scrim. I have a version of "The Cap'n" software on an old PC laptop with that functionality and it worked well, just as good as the night view function on a dedicated marine plotter's screen. I don't know if all nav software has this, of course, but was wondering if yours did and whether you had used it and still felt the screen too bright?

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  5. #40
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    My experience with smart phones in sunlight too -- and put on a pair of polaroid sunglasses and you can't see a thing.
    -Dave

  6. #41
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Nice report, Bruce. Thanks! I share your opinion about poor screen visibility for mobile devices in sunlight.



    Some nav software has the function of displaying in " night" mode--ie, the screen image is rendered as though through a green or red scrim. I have a version of "The Cap'n" software on an old PC laptop with that functionality and it worked well, just as good as the night view function on a dedicated marine plotter's screen. I don't know if all nav software has this, of course, but was wondering if yours did and whether you had used it and still felt the screen too bright?

    Kevin
    The Nav software didn't have that, not that I know of anyway, but the screen itself had a night mode. But even on that and with brightness down to minimum it was too bright. Turning it off was not an issue, we were miles from anything solid. With so many Nav devices on board in so many hands I was a little surprised we had no disagreements, but it was all good!

  7. #42
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Wife brought a small tablet on the boat last summer, unbeknownst to me and when we got underway she showed it to me. Showed where we were, direction we were heading, speed and air temp. No idea what who or why, but it was pretty cool. Before summer I will try to learn more about it. Point is, I guess, these things are pretty cool, albeit a bit mysterious to my 82 year old mind.
    http://wonderdogboatworks.blogspot.com

  8. #43
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    One other thing I should add - at night time the mobile devices we far too bright to use in the cockpit, at least the way we had them configured. Not sure if a phone or tablet can be set to night-light use mode. Destroyers of night vision. Fine to use as a secondary or backup device, but not for a primary always-on system. We used them as such, switching them on to do quick nav checks, e.g. check distance to obstruction to confirm primary system, check ETA to destination or waypoint or hedland etc. at current speed. We did have the primary system (computer monitor) on for a short, tricky night section of the trip, where we were within a couple of NM of shoaling rocks. We coped, but the screen brightness, even turned down to minimum and the software in night mode, made our eyes a little bit uncomfortable. It was a short section of a 48 hour passage, and we made the best compromise to suit.

    Going a bit off topic, this was an absolute dream run of a trip. It deserves a thread of its own when the skipper has time to kick it off.
    When I first joined WBF they made me write a book to prove I was a real yachty. I was so gullible.
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  9. #44
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Quote Originally Posted by Breakaway View Post
    Nice report, Bruce. Thanks! I share your opinion about poor screen visibility for mobile devices in sunlight.



    Some nav software has the function of displaying in " night" mode--ie, the screen image is rendered as though through a green or red scrim. I have a version of "The Cap'n" software on an old PC laptop with that functionality and it worked well, just as good as the night view function on a dedicated marine plotter's screen. I don't know if all nav software has this, of course, but was wondering if yours did and whether you had used it and still felt the screen too bright?

    Kevin
    If Navionics has this, I haven't discovered it yet, but I'll drop a query to them and report back. They've been great at responding to all my (sometimes naiive) questions.
    When I first joined WBF they made me write a book to prove I was a real yachty. I was so gullible.
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  10. #45
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    [QUOTE=brucemoffatt;4830735

    Going a bit off topic, this was an absolute dream run of a trip. It deserves a thread of its own when the skipper has time to kick it off.[/QUOTE]
    That will come in the fullness of time.

  11. #46
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Any plotter I've used including my raymarine unit has both night mode and a screen brightness function..
    I don't like the night mode so I use the simple brightness adjustment.
    To get it you push the on button once and then scroll it by key or knob, whatever it has.
    I moved in the dark last night and used it as it happens.
    I just posted that above on a s5 and now I'm on my tab S. I certainly get the bright sun comments but I don't understand why there would be an issue at night. Both of these devices have brightness adjustment as well, you swipe down from the top and you get an option for auto or a slider to set the screen brightness. On the lowest setting its very dull, I have used it once at night myself and I just had another look at it. seems fine .
    Last edited by John B; 03-12-2016 at 07:19 PM.

  12. #47
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Quote Originally Posted by brucemoffatt View Post
    If Navionics has this, I haven't discovered it yet, but I'll drop a query to them and report back. They've been great at responding to all my (sometimes naiive) questions.
    Confirming that Navionics for mobile devices doesn't have a night mode. They do however suggest that a third party app could be used to dim the screen beyond the limits of the devices' settings. I have downloaded such an app and will see how it looks in the dark. I've looked for an app that dims and changes all the screen colours to shades of red, or something similar to mimic night mode on proprietary cockpit nav devices, but I haven't found anything yet.
    When I first joined WBF they made me write a book to prove I was a real yachty. I was so gullible.
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  13. #48
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    I have an iPad Mini with a solid Otterbox case and a Bad Elf external GPS module. I would not hesitate to use it for navigation in a boat or an airplane. Not cheap, but you get what you pay for. Apple routinely sells factory refurbished demo units with full warranties from their store, right now there is a refurb iPad mini 2 Wi-Fi 16GB - Silver for $229 including shipping. I have nothing against Android, but by the time you pay for a solid, name brand Android tablet you're almost to the price of an Apple. Others may disagree, but I have had good experience with Apple products for 30 years.
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  14. #49
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Can't you just tape a red theater gel sheet over a too-bright screen for night use?
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  15. #50
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Please don't laugh at the ignorance of this non-technophobe…. Does a tablet running a navigation/gps app need to be one that's non-wifi? My wife has an iPad that cannot communicate with the internet unless there's a wireless nearby. Would it work on a boat?

    Jeff

  16. #51
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    The ipad or tablet needs GPS. Some Ipad , tablets a have internal gps.

    check yours

  17. #52
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Can't you just tape a red theater gel sheet over a too-bright screen for night use?
    Great idea.

    For clarity, the charts won't include a night view screen, the nav software being used to display and manipulate the charts will.Examples are: Rose Point Navigation, The Cap'n, Nobletec.




    Example images stolen from the web, not mine.

    Kevin



    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  18. #53
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Quote Originally Posted by cluttonfred View Post
    I have an iPad Mini with a solid Otterbox case and a Bad Elf external GPS module. I would not hesitate to use it for navigation in a boat or an airplane. Not cheap, but you get what you pay for. Apple routinely sells factory refurbished demo units with full warranties from their store, right now there is a refurb iPad mini 2 Wi-Fi 16GB - Silver for $229 including shipping. I have nothing against Android, but by the time you pay for a solid, name brand Android tablet you're almost to the price of an Apple. Others may disagree, but I have had good experience with Apple products for 30 years.
    Also have used Apple for a long time. But they have weak spots and this is clear with their tablets. One example, for my use, is no micro-SD Card slot. I have a 7" refurb Android tablet that was $50, can take at least a 64 GB card which is instantly recognised when inserted. I can take charts/music/apps/etc and move them from one device to another very quickly. That tablet uses a standard micro-USB cord for charging and data transfer, cheap and easy to find nearly anywhere if you need a spare. Or just let them multiply in a drawer on their own. :^) (not sure if I'm kidding or not, try not to look in there too often)

    Also, not necessarily a nav issue, but Apple limits playback of media files to certain types, whereas most Android players (yep, you can choose one you like instead of being stuck with iTunes, same with web browser) will play just about anything. When traveling it's not uncommon to meet people who use different formats for their works and might want to share something with you, in those cases Android is "polyglot".

  19. #54
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Quote Originally Posted by John B View Post
    Its only the cellular ipads that have gps in em as far as I can work out Rick. The other ones have assisted GPS ( I think its called ), which is just pinging off cell towers. Not much good at sea. I bought a cellular samsung for the same reason.
    I need to get a lifeproof case for the tablet.


    note.

  20. #55
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    GPS and cellular functions are sometimes, but not always, bundled together. This is a marketing decision, not a technical requirement.To be clear, you do not need cellular network connectivity to use GPS. If your tablet has a GPS chip, you can navigate using GPS nav software and charts. Conversely, if you just have cell, and try to navigate using netwok interpolation, you'll fail. It's nowhere near accurate enough to locate the tablet on a chart. Tablets, including ipads, with GPS are now very commonplace.

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  21. #56
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    2 years ago and up to a year ago when I investigated this subject, Ipads and samsung tablets did not have gps chips in them unless you bought the cellular version.You don't have to connect the cellular function ( buy a plan or anything) .
    The base non cellular versions have assisted gps , which means they ping off cell towers. That will position you within cellular range and work fine and dandy on land in general but it is useless at sea.

    Now that may have changed in the last year , but getting sense out of any shop/ computer store or even off their sites is very difficult, its like the words ' out to sea' do not exist for them and as soon as they see 'gps' written they will tell you it is there even if it has ' assisted' written in front of it.

    If the truth is any different from that, and that is derived from some research and discussing the subject with offshore cruisers ,using a cellular ipad offshore myself( which definitely did work) and then searching for the same information on the internet ( from offshore cruisers), I'd really like to know.
    Last edited by John B; 03-15-2016 at 04:48 PM.

  22. #57
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    One can purchase a "dongle" -- a plug-in GPS. Here's one for i-Devices made by "Bad Elf" , costs about $100. Others are available at a variety of prices.



    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  23. #58
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Quote Originally Posted by John B View Post
    2 years ago and up to a year ago when I investigated this subject, Ipads and samsung tablets did not have gps chips in them unless you bought the cellular version.You don't have to connect the cellular function ( buy a plan or anything) .
    The base non cellular versions have assisted gps , which means they ping off cell towers. That will position you within cellular range and work fine and dandy on land in general but it is useless at sea.

    Now that may have changed in the last year , but getting sense out of any shop/ computer store or even off their sites is very difficult, its like the words ' out to sea' do not exist for them and as soon as they see 'gps' written they will tell you it is there even if it has ' assisted' written in front of it.

    If the truth is any different from that, and that is derived from some research and discussing the subject with offshore cruisers ,using a cellular ipad offshore myself( which definitely did work) and then searching for the same information on the internet ( from offshore cruisers), I'd really like to know.
    Thanks John, good info.
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  24. #59
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    I'm checking it , as Bruce says it might have changed, Peter. But thats what it was up till a year ( or so)ago.

  25. #60
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    So much conflicting info out there. So far . Ipad =no cellular , no gps.
    Samsung tablet, one guy who say he has gps in non cellular, but I don't know how far out he goes , we have good cell coverage all up our coast ( except for great barrier).

    That one man says his specs are this.
    COMMS WLAN Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot Bluetooth v4.0, A2DP GPS Yes, with A-GPS, GLONASS Infrared port Yes Radio No USB microUSB v2.0 (MHL TV-out), USB Host
    .

    So this is what I mean, does the yes to GPS with A- GPS mean that GPS is achieved with assisted GPS or that it has both. I tend to think its just Assisted GPS and to the best of my knowledge , that will not work out to sea.
    Last edited by John B; 03-15-2016 at 07:19 PM.

  26. #61
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Not true! If you get one of those plug-ins like I posted above, or one of these....




    ...you can have GPS without cellular anywhere in the world.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    '' You ain't gonna learn what you don't want to know. ''
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    ...but if you are going anywhere in the world, make sure you've loaded all those charts before you leave!
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  29. #64
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    I appreciate that you can buy a dongle to get your device GPS. I know that , will do it for a laptop. Thats a whole new shopping curve for me so thanks for those.

    What I am trying to confirm is whether a Tablet or Ipad without cellular and with this thing called 'assisted gps' , which is what you get instead of real gps,will already be able to get a fix without adding a dongle.

    To my knowledge , it won't out at sea.
    Everybody seems to agree that an Ipad definitely won't, but there is the occasional person popping up who says they can with a samsung tablet.
    What I don't know is whether those guys are still within say ..?15 or 30 miles of the coast? Or if they are able to get a fix 1000 miles off the coast.

    I don't think they can get that fix out at sea. Whereas I do know for sure that my cellular tab S ( cell turned off) will use its internal gps and give me a fix well out to sea. As does a cellular Ipad.

  30. #65
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    To my knowledge , it won't out at sea.
    I can tell you that mine doesn't.( "At sea" for me = < 100 nm from land) Hence my pushing the dongles.

    Kevin
    There are two kinds of boaters: those who have run aground, and those who lie about it.

  31. #66
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    There are two GPS options for iPad. IPad with GPS uses cell network + satellite. Works at sea. Or, iPad without GPS - doesn't use anything. Apple store staff rarely know anything about GPS.

    Rick

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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Well, my experience is not the same as the rest of you guys. I have an android tablet (I've tried several) with GPS, without cellular, and it does the whole job.

    First, I don't have an iPad. If you're talking specifically iPad, see Rick's post #66. I'm confident he's right.

    Second, android tablets. Yes, the GPS but no cellular models are available everywhere. Much cheaper than ones enabled for cellular connection. I have no idea why there is confusion about this, nor can I fathom why anyone would buy a dongle and have the hassle of yet another device to manage, when the GPS enabled tablet has it built in, is cheap, and works. Yes, a dongle for a PC. They don't usually have a GPS chip, much to my chagrin. Yes, you have to download the charts for the area you are going boating in prior to setting off. Have I used my android tablet (GPS, no cellular) in anger? Well, I've used it on a TS 16 for local inshore coastal navigation, and I took mine from Franklin Tasmania to Adelaide South Australia, 950 NM approx, and from time to time I turned it on to check how it worked offshore. As stated above, sun glare on screen is an issue, as is screen dimming at night, both fixable issues, however the nav software and charts work nicely. We did have an over abundance of nav devices available on the trip in question so I did not have the tablet out in the coach-house or cockpit much at all - it would have been in the way - but yes, it is a very good nav device, subject to the screen comments above.

    Third, so-called GPS assist cellular. These work by getting several cell towers' signals, estimating their direction from the phone's cell receiver, and triangulating your position from them. If you want to see how accurate they aren't, switch off GPS on your cell phone and try a mapping program, and see how many metres your stated position is on the phone from where you really are, and see how that wanders as you move about. Now imagine you're at sea, where there is no abundance of cell towers, if any at all. No use to anyone at all.
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  33. #68
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Quote Originally Posted by brucemoffatt View Post
    GPS and cellular functions are sometimes, but not always, bundled together. This is a marketing decision, not a technical requirement.
    My understanding is the GPS and cellular functionality are on the same chip. So it *is* a technical requirement in the normal consumer gear (though marketing decisions could readily disable one or the other function). Also, these combo GPS chips aren't very accurate as GPS units. They rely on being able to use A-GPS (assisted GPS) which triangulates from phone towers. A proper dedicated GPS receiver is much more accurate but not common in any phone or tablet. Get an external (USB or Bluetooth) proper GPS receiver.

    This is my present understanding of the situation from googling around a bit last year trying to figure out why the blasted iPad Air GPS didn't work - it doesn't have one
    Feel free to correct me if you've done more thorough research than I. :-)

  34. #69
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Bruce, what model is the GPS enabled Android tablet you have? We have an iPad Air in the house with a waterproof casing. I was hoping to get a proper GPS receiver it can talk to via bluetooth, such as this:

    https://buy.garmin.com/en-AU/AU/prod109826.html

  35. #70
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    Default Re: useing a tablet as a chart plotter.

    Again, my experience is not at all like you describe. I have two android tablets here, neither with cellular functionality, both with GPS. I've been running Navionics and other GPS enabled navigation software on an ASUS EeePad Transformer for a few years now. Not just the last year, the GPS functionality has been available without cellular for some time now. As well, I am now playing with a quite old Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 that was our son's until he got sick of it, then it became my wife's, and now I'm using it. It is quite a few years old in tablet years. It is currently running the free 'try before you buy' version of Navionics with a small set of charts for Gulf St Vincent and Kangaroo Island.

    No, I'm not being fooled by a cell-tower GPS emulator. There are apps such as GPS Status that (as well as providing navigation screens over free maps) show details of GPS satellites that are being used. There are quite a few GPS navigation apps available, and all work on these tablets.

    For the life of me I can't fathom where the notion has come from that you can't run a GPS navigation system on the GPS chip of a GPS chip enabled android tablet, unless it has cellular functionality. I don't buy the amazing coincidence that I have mysteriously found myself with the only two exceptions to that rule on my desk right now. Even I am not that gullible. I suggest that if you think otherwise, you've been conned by sales people who would prefer you spend the extra bux on the extra functionality. As for iPad, see my post at #67 and Rick's at #66. I could set up a demo, video it and upload it for your enjoyment, but I'd have to charge.
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