Panbo

Argonaut's giant A615 Android tablet, and a Panbo reader survey

... written for Panbo by Ben Ellison and posted on Nov 30, 2013

Argonaut_A615_Android_15-inch_marine_display_.jpgThis is different! While the new Argonaut A615 Smart Monitor has several of the marine display features the company is known for, it can also serve as a large Android tablet. So with its 360° waterproof enclosure, bonded Tflex transflective LED-backlit LCD, and Quad Core ARM processor you can have fast standalone chart plotting on a 15-inch screen in your cockpit or on your flying bridge using only 20 Watts of 12 or 24 volt DC power. And of course that's not all...

If the A615 Smart Monitor can reach the Internet with its own WiFi, or via your boat's WiFi router, you can get real time weather, check e-mail, download more apps, watch Netflix, etc. It also has a DVI and analog video inputs so the screen can alternately display onboard cameras, MFD output, and more. The A615 can be surface mounted, bracket mounted or set up with a more flexible RAM mount; I'd favor the latter as transflective displays are especially sensitive to sunlight angle.
   The charting app that comes with the A615 appears to be the worthy Memory-Map, but there are several interesting choices on Android now. Jeppesen's Plan2Nav offers global C-Map coverage plus ActiveCaptain, for instance, and if you have a current Raymarine MFD or Navico GoFree setup there are free android apps that will make the Smart Monitor a nice second station over WiFi. But note that the A615 does not have touch screen, and I'm not yet sure what Argonaut means by an "All Weather Touch Pad" control. Is that something built onto the monitor or... 

Argonaut_OneTouch_waterproof_control_pad.jpg

Maybe the A615 Smart Monitor comes with Argonaut's OneTouch waterproof touch pad mouse?  I'm sure I can get more details after the weekend, but some boaters who already have exposed monitors might want to know about this touch pad anyway.

Besides, I wanted to put up a weekend entry in the hope that relaxed readers will take a short survey. Actually, it only takes a few minutes, you might get a laugh, and you could also win a famed Panbo long-billed lightweight cap. Plus, you'll get a chance to deliver anonymous feedback on how Panbo can be improved -- don't hold back! -- and/or impress potential advertisers with details of your electronics addiction (or influence over buyers). Please be completely candid, but please do take the 2013 Panbo Reader Survey.

2013_Panbo_Reader_Survey_clip.jpgPS 12/6: draft survey results now available as a PDF download. Interesting!

Comments

Cool. Almost 30 readers have completed the survey now, and I suspect the first hat winner will be tonight, and maybe the second one too. Yes, I will ship hats to Europe and beyond.

Thanks to all who've responded so far, even if you were critical.

Posted by: Ben at November 30, 2013 10:09 PM | Reply

The survey was delightfully short. Two minutes to complete.

Ben what is the difference between a full-time and a part-time recreational?

Posted by: Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at November 30, 2013 10:56 PM | Reply

Dan, a part-time recreational thinks about boating only while awake. A full time dreams about being on the water as well :)))

Posted by: Michael Jabara at December 1, 2013 9:59 AM | Reply

I like Michael's definition but I was thinking more about liveaboards vs more seasonal or occasional users.
No big deal; this is the first poll I've ever designed and I'm delighted so far with the results. With about 100 surveys in, several themes both positive and negative are emerging.

So far, Panbo hat prizes are headed to California and the UK, and I expect a third winner some time today. Big thanks to all respondants so far.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Dan Corcoran (b393capt) at December 1, 2013 11:58 AM | Reply

Neither you nor Argonaut offer much detail in your specs but surely the A615 provides an NMEA 2000 port, no? Is the single USB occupied by the Touch Pad mouse?

Posted by: Chris Hayes at December 1, 2013 1:37 PM | Reply

Chris, so far I only know what's on the Argonaut site or in the spec sheet download. The latter does say that the USB port is used by the "Glide Pad" but that an optional USB Hub is available.

As for a NMEA 2000 port, they are rare on even high-end marine computers, probably because it involves integrating in a CANbus processor and there is no standard way to deliver N2K messages to PC programs (or to apps running on phones and tablets). Eventually all that will be taken care of by NMEA's OneNet standard for marine Ethernet and WiFi, but in the meantime there are several ways to get a boat's N2K data to iPads over WiFi and I presume we'll start seeing Anrdroid marine apps that can do similar.

As for the A615, I'm sure we'll get more details once Argonaut realizes we're talking about. One thing I'm curious about is the GPS connection. I'm also wondering how a touch pad will work with an operating system that I've always used with a touch screen. Will there be some cursor-like thing on screen letting you know where your finger is?

Posted by: Ben at December 1, 2013 2:48 PM | Reply

What will it take to not be winner and have a hat ??

Posted by: Mark Pellerin in reply to Ben at December 1, 2013 7:18 PM | Reply

Hi Mark, a sure way to get a Panbo hat is by writing a guest entry. There's interest in more "how to" and small boat electronics pieces (I'm learning from the survey) and many other topics are possible.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Mark Pellerin at December 1, 2013 10:39 PM | Reply

I just got off the phone with George Kioutas of Argonaut and know more about A615 details:

* The included touchpad is the separate Argonaut OneTouch unit I wrote about. The setup does show a cursor on screen so you can see where your finger is but the OneTouch does not support multi-touch gestures like swiping or pinch-to-zoom. Apparently all Android apps can be run this way but Argonaut is also working on a waterproof multi-touch control pad.

* The A615 will include a separate GPS with USB interface to a 2nd port that's not mentioned on the spec sheet. Bluetooth is not included, largely because it would have trouble inside the aluminum enclosure.

Kioutas said that it was quite a project to source a custom Android circuit board that would run the big screen well -- especially given its standard 4:3 aspect ratio -- but he's excited this and future "smart monitors". The A615 will be shipping soon (I may get to try one) and will be shown at the Miami Boat Show in February.

Posted by: Ben at December 2, 2013 2:58 PM | Reply

I'm kind of confused by this product. It's not really a tablet, not really a monitor. It's basically an all-in-one marine computer except that it runs a mobile OS which has limited application and hardware support. With a touchscreen or at least some programmable buttons, I think this would be pretty cool, but from the limited specs it look like a Jack of all trades, master of none.

I guess the logic is:

Tablet - Touchscreen = "Smart Monitor"

or

"Smart Monitor" + Touchscreen = Tablet

Posted by: sailoutbound at December 2, 2013 3:17 PM | Reply

I'll see if I can explain better...

The A615 really is a monitor. In fact, it's build using most of the components of Argonaut's G615 display (see http://goo.gl/Bnx0A4 which also shows what the back of the A615 looks like). Either will display the same video coming in the DVI, RCA and S-Video ports.

But when you switch to what used to be the VGA port on the A615 the display will show what's happening on the built in Android operating system. That's when it will seem tablet-like, even though it's fixed (which is what most navigators do with a tablet anyway). Apparently there are some Android computers being made in Asia (and Argonaut worked with one such developer) but most all us equate Android with phones or tablets.

Touch is sort of a different issue. I think someone could built a 15-inch Android multi-touch monitor, and maybe Argonaut is working on one, but for this model they chose to use a separate touchpad.

Posted by: Ben in reply to sailoutbound at December 2, 2013 3:58 PM | Reply

The third Panbo hat prize will be going to Seattle, and we're well on our way to prize #4, which will go to the 200th survey respondent who puts their email in for a chance. Actually, over two hundred surveys have been completed but some readers pass on the hat prize.

Meanwhile I'm learning about the data end of the survey system I'm using -- http://www.limeservice.com/en/ -- and it looks like I can share the results with everyone fairly easily.

Posted by: Ben at December 2, 2013 7:01 PM | Reply

How does one guest write an entry? I've certainly considered writing up one of my projects, such as my LED lighting conversion, or my installation of underwater lights. I'd be happy to see if I can meet your standards!
(I LOVE this site!)

Posted by: Doug Campbell in reply to Ben at December 3, 2013 2:23 PM | Reply

Thanks, Doug! The process goes like this:

1. Send me an email (editor at panbo.com) with details of proposed entry, like what sort of LEDs you used, problems you ran into, etc.

2. If it seems like a topic of interest, I'll ask for draft copy and images. The Panbo style is big base images when possible and an opening paragraph that tries to have little punch. Total length is pretty flexible.

3. I'll edit the first entry and images (as needed) and send the writer a hat. Subsequent entries that require little edit work can earn a small fee, and there's more available for writers who learn to use Panbo's content management system (Movable Type).

4. I've meant to write detailed guidelines about this for a long time, and hope to get to it soon.

Posted by: Ben at December 3, 2013 2:47 PM | Reply

The entry rate has fallen off -- 260 surveys now filled in -- but I still think that someone will pick up hat prize #4. Results fascinating, thanks all.

Posted by: Ben at December 4, 2013 3:37 PM | Reply

I'm going to shut the survey down tonight or early tomorrow because I'm keen to collate, analyze, and share the results, which appear interesting in rough format. There's still a chance that hat #4 will find a home.

Posted by: Ben in reply to Ben at December 5, 2013 6:10 PM | Reply

Panbo Reader Survey results available! See PS on entry above. I'm quite curious about what others will see in this. Feedback appreciated.

Posted by: Ben at December 6, 2013 3:24 PM | Reply

Two points from the "how Panbo could work better for me" section could be fixed relatively easily (I guess) and I have wished for these myself, too:
- have searches also search the in the comments
- have the layout adapt better to the width of the browser window and make better use of smartphone screens.
For much of the rest you would probably have to hire staff ;-)
Years ago I had a wild idea on the following two points also showing up heavily in the comments:
- Anglers with a small outboards and superyacht owners/captains and cruising or racing sailors all read Panbo and want to get information relevant to them
- How does all this fancy stuff stand up in the real world?
One could assemble a diverse set of actual boats and owners (a center console, a 40ft motor cruiser, a workboat, a 70ft planing semi-superyacht, a liveaboard cruising sailboat, a racing sailboat, a new purchase, 30 year old boat undergoing a refit...) and document the status quo in some detail (what's there, what works well, what doesn't). Each such boat would have a separate section on Panbo or would show in the main stream of entries but be separately selectable. Then, for an indefinite period, there would be irregular entries on each boat as good and bad experiences are made, problems encountered and solved, new equipment suitable for this boat investigated and eventually purchased or deferred, installs botched up, repeated and finally brought home or even the occasional sunny day out on the water with the stuff more or less working.
Ideally, the set of boats together would cover all the major electronic players but anything is a start.
It is a wild idea, I agree.
The "test platform" is currently provided by Gizmo and yourself but Gizmo can't be everything in one and if it tries, in doing so, it becomes les and less of a real world example (like who in their right mind would put 4 radome radars on their boat?).
You would want to put the maximum amount of stuff possible on Gizmo in order to test it and you should but if I were in the market for a 37ft classic motor cruiser I would still never want to *copy* the electronics install in Gizmo (though the Interlux Pacifica Plus and Torqueedo entry and several others do prove me partially wrong).
I know it's a wild idea.

Posted by: Henning at December 7, 2013 1:50 PM | Reply

Clearly there's an interest in more "How to" and DIY type posts, as well as more pedestrian topics, transom mount transducers was one example given, of use to owners of smaller boats. I have to agree that while the "Glass Bridge" creations are fascinating it is unlikely that anything like that will ever appear in a beloved, updated, and retro-fitted boat.

I know I personally like to see the occasional uberboat story since it gives me an idea of what's coming my way. The new, lower priced IR cameras you recently wrote about being one example of a technology I'm anxiously awaiting. So while the stories about FLIR were not of immediate practical use to me, they showed what would be filtering down to the more budget minded boater. (And in this day and age - filtering down fairly soon!) I do agree that there seems to be a bit of a tilt towards the larger, big price tag products lately, although there's been a lot of news in that space so one could see that as natural. But maybe a conscious effort at a "smaller" product every 4th post or so? :)

I'd also like to say that I take exception to those who implied you're somehow selling out. Whatever that truly means. Panbo is not a consumer protection site! I appreciate the access that Panbo's growth has given you, and by extension, me. I go to Panbo to find out about what's happening in the marine electronics world. Clearly the big manufacturers are a major part of that world and I expect to see a lot of space given to their products. But I've also certainly read many of your posts about much smaller manufacturers. The Rouge and Bullet wi-fi posts come to mind, but there have been many others. I like the breadth of coverage and as I said in the survey, I feel you point out flaws as well as successes.

Keep up the good work!

Posted by: Doug Campbell in reply to Ben at December 7, 2013 2:39 PM | Reply

I've been meaning for some time to thank Doug for coming to my defense against anonymous readers who think I've "sold out"...Thanks, Doug!

In fact, I received a lot of useful criticism and am trying to act on it. And when I get a chance I intend to discuss what I consider misplaced negativity on the Forum.

Overall, though, the reader survey was really positive, and I've seen one form of proof. I ended up just adding a little analysis to the results, fixing typos, and sent it all to existing advertisers. (Link to PDF below)

In other words, the advertisers got to read every good, bad, and ugly word you all wrote...and every single one of them will be supporting Panbo again next year! (Along with a couple of new full year advertisers.)

I think it's a strong indication that the relationship between advertisers and media is not what it used to be (and it's never been as corrupt as some think anyway). Companies have learned to appreciate real conversations about their products, even if that hurts sometimes, and even if unfair sometimes.

It's not only possible for the media to be independent in this environment; it's nearly mandatory.

At any rate, thank you all for being REAL.

2013 Panbo Reader Survey Results.pdf

Posted by: Ben in reply to Doug Campbell at December 30, 2013 6:20 PM | Reply

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