Review of Marine Charts Lite and Marine Charts HD Android Boat ChartingApp
Not the Best Choice for Your Android Device
Marine Charts Lite is a free Android app that like a chartplotter
showsyou your boat's position on a chart, assuming your Android smartphone or tablethas an internal or external
GPS receiver. It uses standard NOAA raster charts, the same asmany other apps - which display the same as standard paper charts.
Theenticement here is that while the app is free, the method by which you downloadchart sections (which the app calls "tiles") for use is so clunkythat if you want to use this app in more than just a tiny geographical area,you're motivated to upgrade to the Marine Charts HD version, sold for $9.99, toavoid the slowness and problems of the free downloads (and to remove the bannerads).
So it'snot actually free except for those who boat in only a small geographical areathat can be more easily downloaded for offline use on the boat - or for peoplewho are constantly connected (a risky thing to trust on a boat).
In addition, NutiCharts lacks many of the features of otherlow-cost charting apps
Versionreviewed: Marine Charts Lite (free) and Marine Charts HD ($9.99) version2.7(22)
Tested on Lenovo A1 Tablet running Android 2.3
What It Does
Here arethe key features of Marine Charts Lite:
· On startup, when online, you see a base map chart of yourlocation. You can then pan around and zoom in somewhat to select small chartareas (tiles), a little at a time, to download for offline use.
· Once you have appropriate chart tiles, view your boat's GPSposition on the NOAA chart - zoom and pan to look ahead and around.
· Return online later to download additional chart tiles.
· Option to track your boat on the chart and save the track.
· Option to mark waypoints by dropping pins on the chart.
· "Guide to waypoint" function (but not full routingfunctions).
· Option to measure distances between two points.
· Online (but not offline) help screens.
MarineCharts Lite and Marine Charts HD are not a full chartplotter like many otherapps, but essentially just show your position on the chart and allow simple useof waypoints and other functions. It does not include typical functions forroutes and navigation (no multi-waypoint routes, no speed and course, etc.).Its simple functions might be fine for a free app, except that its freedownloading of chart tiles is so frustratingly limited that to use it well youinevitably want to upgrade to the paid HD version ($9.99 - obviously thedeveloper's intent) in order to download larger sections of charts. Even then,downloading is slow and tedious and may result in a chaotic stitching of chartsections at different zoom levels and resolutions.
Usersalso complain that it runs very slow.
Itslimited features alone would cause me to recommend virtually any other chartingapp over Marine Charts, which in contrast looks like software written a decadeago. But worse still is its chart functioning. Even with the paid version, itis very tedious to download chart tiles, and it's easy to make a mistake andend up not really sure what you're getting. For example, you select a certainarea of a small-scale chart to download (when online). Later, offline (as inmany real-life boating situations), you start to zoom in to see your boat inthat chart area and suddenly realize you don't have enough detail because thezoom doesn't go far enough in or becomes blurry (you have to remember to selectthe best zoom level when you first download the chart section) . You have to goback online and download some more in the same area with a higher level ofzoom. Do this several times in a larger area and you can end up with a crazyquilting of chart sections that can be zoomed to different levels. If you havemore detailed chart tiles in one place compared to the place just beside it,when you zoom in that other place will simply become blurry or a hole in thechart.
This is not something I'd trust my boat or my life to in atricky navigational area! If you like raster charts (the NOAA charts that lookidentical to paper charts), then spend a few bucks more and get MX Mariner
, whichare full-featured apps that download entire
NOAA charts and keeps them all in focus whenzoomed and seamlessly shifts into smaller- and larger-scale charts. Or if youlike vector charts, check out Navionics Marine & Lakes
Note: When I uninstalledMarine Charts on my Android tablet, the data and chart files remained, using upprecious resources. I had to manually delete that folder with literallyhundreds of files via my computer to regain some 130 MB in storage room (and Ihad not downloaded all that large an area with the app).