The iPhone at Sea

admin | August 5th, 2008 - 22:09

At first glance, the recently launched iPhone is ideal for use on a coastal cruise. It isn’t just a phone with a built in iPod. It has a GPS built in, its web browser is superior to any other mobile phone browser and well suited for small data entry tasks such as using the skipr.net “Where is my boat” site. On the surface a great phone for marine use!

IMG_6799 On my recent sail North on Breakaway, the iPhone hadn’t been released, but I did have a “Touch iPod”, which has many of the iPhone capabilities. Breakaway had WiFi Internet access through the Ericsson W25, so I used the iPod to great effect to keep up with my emails and also used its mini browser for log entries to the Skipr system. For much of the time I didn’t need my computer because the iPod had all the Internet access I needed. When I needed a larger screen or more extensive text entries, my laptop could also conveniently connect to the system.

So how about using an iPhone to do everything?

The iPhone has phone and 3G Internet access, a GPS, as well as the
excellent mini browser and email capabilities of the “Touch iPod”.

But when you look closer, the iPhone is not the ideal solution,

  • A
    boat on a coastal passage would already have a GPS and chart plotter.
    The iPhone GPS is cute for finding your way on shore, but not what you
    need at sea.
  • The iPhone has no facility for an external aerial to boost its range.
  • It
    doesn’t have the ability to serve as a modem for my computer when I
    need something more than the phone’s mini browser and onscreen keyboard

My ideal system is still what I used on Breakaway.
The Ericsson unit gives great phone performance, together with the
convenience of connecting a computer or iPod/iPhone via WiFi.  Thereby
getting great reception, full access for laptops and the ability to use a Touch iPod (or of course an iPhone) to do data entry from the
cockpit!

Of course I’ll still buy an iPhone for when I’m on land :-)

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