Eighteen months ago we published my recommendation for the best computer to run Windows-based navigation software.
And now I have a new recommendation :
- Tons of power
- Super small size
- HDMI port for the monitor
- 2 USB-3 ports
- 3 USB-C ports (we can always use one or more USB 2/3 hub(s) if we want to connect everything on the boat to it…including the coffee pot)
- Super low power drain (I have not actually verified this, but Apple does this better than anyone—our Macbook Pros and Air are amazing in this regard)
So why didn’t I recommend the Mac mini last time around? Simple, at that time it still came with a mechanical disk drive, and I just don’t think that’s a good idea on a boat. But now all the new minis use solid state storage, so all good.
And how much does it cost? US $800.
Yeah, I know, we can buy cheaper computers, but not, at least as far as I know, with Apple build quality. And do you really want to use the cheapest, junkiest, no name computer for something as important as navigation?
Pair a mini up with one of these Argonaut waterproof daylight readable screens installed on deck and we have a powerful navigation system for US$2300. Certainly not chump change, but way less than a good large-screen plotter, and way more flexible.
And for those who want to use a laptop at the chart table and to drive a waterproof screen on deck, as we do, the new Macbook Air—my original recommendation—looks pretty sweet, too.
Of course this short piece brings up the eternal question, which is best for electronic navigation: plotter or computer? And that’s the subject of my next article on the subject.
Yeah, I know, those of you who did not read the original article (and probably some of you who did) are now convinced that I have been hitting the hooch a little too hard.
But, seriously, before you completely discount the idea that Apple makes the best Windows computers, at least for navigation, have a read of my reasoning and have a scan of the comments, too, so we don’t re-cover a bunch of old ground.
Also, please don’t front run the the next article.