Charting Apps – An Informal Review, Navionics (4)

Update: Since the original post I received a message from Navionics to upgrade the charts for $54.99, essentially I am buying the app annually to get access to the updated charts. This seems to be a bit unreasonable to me. Yes I get all of the charts for Canada and the USA, but I really only need and want the charts for Georgian Bay. They are forcing me to pay for more than I need. I’m not crazy about this. Perhaps $9.99 for the updated Great Lakes charts would be reasonable. I’ll just stick with the 2012 version. It makes the iSailor app look like a real winner in comparison.

The last post covered the iNavX app from GPSNavX and the Georgian Bay charts from Fugawi X-Traverse. In this post I will provide a concise review and opinion on the Navionics app for the iPad as applied to the Georgian Bay area. I am using this app with a 3rd Generation (Wifi+Cellular) iPad. To allow for a better comparison with the iNavX app discussed in the last post, and the iSailor app that will be presented in the next post, I have included a short video demonstration of how the app looks and operates.

Navionics, USA & Canada HD Details
Publisher: Navionics (
Price: $54.99 for app including the charts for the USA and Canada. Annual updates are also $54.99.

This has become our ‘go-to’ charting app when heading out on the Big Sound outside of Parry Sound, Ontario. It just works and the interface is pretty simple to figure out. Because I don’t use it every day, I’m not out everyday and there are times I’m boating in areas I am very familiar with, I sometimes need to poke a couple of the icons to remind myself with what is what. It’s really excellent when used at my desk to plot a course and to figure out where to go with clients. I can pinch to zoom and scroll everywhere in Georgian Bay without needing to load another chart.

The video below provides a ‘slice of life’ regarding this app. The video covers many of the same topics that were discussed in the previous iNavx video and highlights the pros and the cons of the Navionics app.

1. Smooth vector graphics make the chart easy to see and understand at my desk and on the boat. The response time is very good in terms of pinching to zoom and scrolling. (Note: we are required to carry, and do carry, paper charts with us.)
2. It does a very good job of identifying the boat’s location and recording a traveled track.
3. It allows for the simple plotting of a course as you can see in the video.
4. Permits the setting of markers for depth areas. In our case we highlight in darker blue the areas that are 6 feet or less.
5. All charts for North America are included in the base price. This offers a real savings for the boater who likes to cruise longer distances when compared with the ‘area by area’ map charge with iNavX. The pricing is very reasonable for what you get, even if you only use a subset of the provide charts. iSailor similar to iNavX offers a la carte pricing for North American charts.
6. The Navionics app takes about 115 MB of space on the iPad versus 180 MB for iNavX and 57.6 MB for iSailor. Note that our iNavX installation only covers Georgian Bay, and our iSailor installation Lakes Huron and Superior, while Navionics covers all of the USA and Canada.

I’m really at a loss to point out any cons. It just works. Sure it could be cheaper, but it still is a relative bargain in terms of what it does and its utility. We don’t need to deal with tides in Georgian Bay so perhaps it could be better in that regard, but perhaps it’s already pretty good, I just haven’t assessed it for this.

Here’s a video that shows the Navionics app in action (in the office).  I’m not equipped to do an on-board demo. It performs similarly when used on the boat. There is an HD icon in the top right area of the video, click on it to see a better resolution version.

Note: electronic charts are not a substitute for up-to-date paper charts. You should carry paper charts in addition to electronic charts. Stuff happens and devices can fail when you need them most. Always have a backup.

Post #1 (Introduction)
Post #2 (Overview)
Post #3 (iNavX Review)


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