Monday, August 4, 2008

iNavX Initial Impressions

iNavX, a Marine Navigation Program was finally released for the iPhone over the weekend. I downloaded it this morning and have played a little. Obviously the screenshots are from the I didn't run aground REALLY hard. Although a bit more expensive than I was hoping (I believe the developer said "cheap" on panbo, it is still reasonable at $50 and overall, the program seems pretty awesome. It uses the internal GPS or an optional NMEA stream over wifi (available from MacEnc, Expedition, as well as several others). It apparently can even display AIS data although I won't be able to check that till we install AIS on Visions (PLEASE FCC give us AIS B like the rest of the world). I do plan on using this with my recently aquired Otterbox Armor Waterproof iPhone case (modified to fit my 3G as they haven't released a new one yet) that will be the subject of a future post when we race Visions in the Monhegan Race this weekend. I may even bring a wifi router along to play with that instruments feature.

Navigating around the screen is easy and the chart tile load time is reasonable. Downloading new charts takes about 20 to 30 seconds on a good 3g connection and shows ~100 kb/sec on the download screen (nice feature). I am guessing edge will take about 4 times that long at least, but still not too bad. Charts are stored locally, so you can download when at home on 3g or wifi and with 8 or 16 gb on an iphone, storing the charts isn't a problem. Taking ranges & bearings is easy with a double-tap, and displays the data nicely on the top of the screen (see image above). My only real complaint is that the zoom doens't go out nearly enough. The pics are both zoomed all the way out, and you can only see a very small fraction of the chart (similar with larger scale charts as well). Also, the difference between zoomed in and zoomed out is only about a factor of 2 or 3 (not nearly enough). Zoomed in is probably closer than it needs to be and zoomed out is WAY too close to get a sence of where you are and what is coming up (probably only 10 mins ahead if moving at 8 to 10 knots). Waypoints are easy to create, name, move around, and "steer to" (see screenshot below).

Unfortunately, I have yet to see how to have instruments or waypoint data overlaid on the chart (maybe they can do this in a future version). It does have the ability to display a wide range of instrument data and can even list a single item in large text on the screen if you want to use it as a portable depth readout or VMG or whatever.

UPDATE Day 1 Actual use Review
Update with Wifi Instruments


EVK4 said...

re: the otter case, I assume since you used it, you could still get a gps signal. Do you think the speed would be more accurate without the case?

Ibsailn said...

I have used it a little bit out of the case (on Visions, not smaller boats) and I didn't notice better performance, but I will try to test this at some point and let you know.

Anonymous said...

I was going to wait for Otterbox to release a new waterproof box for the 3G. What did you have to do to "modify" the older style case? Can you post some pictures detailing any fit issues?

Ibsailn said...

I just posted about my Otterbox mod.

Click the iNavX tag or to to the August 13th post for more details.