After experimenting with the latest mobile electronic devices (Nook, Kindle, Slate, iPhone, iPod, etc.), your Log-Book Committee is ready to recommend the Apple iPad as the most suitable device for taking the harbor reports onboard, in mobile electronic format.
The harbor reports need to be converted into PDF format (see the web site's Help section for how-to). The PDFs are then imported into the iPad. You will need to buy a “reader” application (app) for the iPad—the committee has had success with “Air Sharing” ($9.99) and especially “Good Reader” ($2.99). The built-in app, iBooks, is also usable. It will take a little practice with the app to learn how to organize the PDF files—a good winter project. All apps are purchased directly from Apple through the iPad.
To import the PDFs into Good Reader on the iPad:
- move all the PDFs into a single folder on your home computer.
- "zip" the folder into a single "zip" file.
- hook up your iPad to your computer so that iTunes opens.
- click on the "Apps" tab.
- scroll down to "Good Reader."
- drag the zipped file into the "Good Reader" icon.
- open Good Reader on the iPad and un-zip the imported zip file.
In addition to the harbor reports, members of the Log-Book committee have used the iPad to collect and store PDF versions of the manuals for all on-board systems—radio, instruments, engine, chart plotter, etc. Very handy when cruising.
The iPad can also be used as a primary or back-up chartplotter. You will need to buy the “3G” version of the iPad which has a built-in GPS (the wi-fi-only version has no GPS). The navigation app is called iNavX and costs $49.95. All US charts can be downloaded free through the iPad, but Canadian charts must be purchased from CHS. Prices vary—for example, Canadian Lake Huron and North Channel is $74.95, Georgian Bay is $74.95, Canadian Lake Superior is $49.95. Once the charts are installed, the iPad works like other moving-map software, essentially identical to almost all dedicated chartplotters. However, the screen is not particularly good in direct sunlight.
The iPad can also be used as a book reader on board—book costs vary from free for older books to $9.95 for the latest best sellers. Several members use the iPad for daily newspaper reading; for example, daily subscriptions to theToronto Globe and Mail, the Chicago Tribune, and other major newspapers are available.
There are many weather apps (WeatherBug, Accuweather), most available for $0.99.
Hundreds of other apps are available, though most are not directly related to cruising.
To use the iPad for e-mailing or web browsing, a local wi-fi connection or good 3G cell-phone signal is needed. 3G proved to be generally available throughout the North Channel and much of Georgian Bay (Bell Mobile or Rogers), but in the US (AT&T) 3G service is rare outside of the major cities. If you are stuck with AT&T analog signals, e-mailing and surfing will be usable but very very slow.
The iPad can be purchased with different amounts of memory. One member has all of the harbor reports, all of the US Charts (including East Coast, West Coast, and Gulf), most of the Canadian Charts, several hundred books, and several dozen apps, and uses a total of 9.1 GB of memory.