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Garmin Mobile XT & Bluechart Marine Charts on a phone?

Mobile XTI wrote about Mobile XT previously. My comment was not that you couldn’t get chartplotting software on a smartphone, because patently you can – the comment I made was that you couldn’t get Bluechart marine charts to be read by Garmin Mobile XT on a smartphone. After making that post Bob left a comment that he had managed to get his Garmin Mobile XT to read Bluechart charts on his phone – even though this feature was not documented!…

Just to recap,Mobile XT is Garmin’s new GPS app that will be used in the expected Mobile 10/GPS 10X and Mobile 20/GPS 20SM products.

Garmin will also be releasing Mobile XT as an update for the ageing “Que” Pocket PC software that is included with the GPS 10 Bluetooth Receiver package.

Mobile XT is a newer version of the “Que Nav” application that comes with the iQue M3 and iQue M4 Pocket PC devices.

The software is sold on microSD cards that you insert into a smartphone which has built in GPS – you can of course use a miniSD or standardSD converter to house the card if necessary, for example in a PDA.

If your smartphone also has GPRS (data service) then the software will access “Garmin Online”. This gives access to a wide range of services such as traffic, weather, hotel rates and more. It give real-time traffic information from traffic.com about traffic tie-ups and road construction that lie ahead on your route. Hotel rates, ratings and availability information comes from hotels.com. There is a good article here about the use of XT on a smartphone

So all the elements are there for using your smartphone as a handheld marine chart plotter on board your boat, and saving yourself £200 to £300 for a dedicated marine plotter.

… I haven’t tested this theory, but now I am sorely tempted, having just changed phone to the Samsung i780 that has built in GPS…but then there is Active Captain too …

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Raymarine share price rockets…

Raymarine - ProductsGarmin is the mystery bidder behind a takeover approach for Britain’s Raymarine Plc. Garmin’s approach could be worth as much as 200 million pounds ($389 million)

Raymarine Plc has two sites in Portsmouth, Hampshire. Corporate headquarters are based in Anchorage Park, and house the Factory service and Repair facility. Quay Point is the engineering and design headquarters. Raymarine floated on the London Stock Exchange on 6 December 2004, and was a landmark event in the long and successful history of Raymarine.

A number of private equity companies are also thought to be eyeing Raymarine, officials at Raymarine were not immediately available to comment.

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Garmin for Windows Mobile and Smartphones – For Land not Sea !

I have had emails from number of people saying that there are heaps of mobile chart plotters out there – but I beg to differ!

There are heaps of mobile chart plotters for the Land but not the Sea 🙂

Garmin XTFor example even Garmin only cover the Land ….Garmin Mobile XT transforms your GPS-enabled smartphone into a full-featured street navigator. Routing software and detailed mapping are preloaded on a microSD card – just plug it into your phone and you’re ready to navigate – on foot or in your car. With no subscription fee or additional equipment required, Mobile XT works anywhere, even outside your phone’s network coverage area.

Minimum requirements for Windows Mobile®, Palm® and Symbian® devices: 16MB program memory, 128MB storage card minimum (256MB or more recommended), 2GB storage card for full coverage

You get :

  • City Navigator® NT street maps …one of:-
    • Garmin Mobile™ XT North America
    • Garmin Mobile XT,Europe
    • Garmin Mobile XT,UK & Ireland
  • Garmin Mobile XT navigation software
  • miniSD and SD adapters

…so when will the Sea version come out – well …never me-thinks – why should they when they have so many solid and reliable handheld plotters already. It is the new entrants into the market that may be motivated to creep in via the backdoor of the smartphone devices. Not the incumbents like Raymarine or Garmin.

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Garmin 76CS – Pros & Cons

I was lucky enough to get a RC400 and a Garmin 76CS as wedding presents in August 2005.

There seems to be a number of discussions on various forums about the pros and cons of these units so I thought I would give my experiences of using both while sailing in the English Channel for the past 2 years.

Garmin 76CS – the Pros:
Garmin 76CS 11. Although I have the Raymarine RC400 mounted at the helm – the Garmin can go anywhere with me – to the Marina office, to the cafe, to another yacht etc.. its truly portable because the batteries last. Unlike the RC400 the batteries last for at least 24 hours of use.

2. It has its own GPS so it is another backup for position data separate from my main GPS / C120 setup.

3. The BlueChart software is loaded from the laptop – you dont need another copy like you do for the RC400. The software auto loads all relevant charts for the route you have planned. Interfacing to the Garmin BlueChart software on my laptop is easy and always works perfectly.

4. You can use it in the car too – there are comprehensive charts for Europe including detailed maps of all major cities.

5. Garmin continue to manufacture and support this unit. There is a tremendous amount of software and add-ons for it on the Net. The latest 76Csx uses the latest SiRFstarIII chip set

Garmin 76CS – the Cons:

1. The screen is hard to see in poor light, it is quite dim and you need to press a power button to turn the brightness up – quite awkward when you are wearing gloves or have stubby fingers like me.

2. The buttons are above the screen – why ? They are small and hard to press accurately.

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