Phone vs. Laptop - 11/05/2008

Last week we established that small is coming, this week we want to zero in on how small and why. It is true that much of what we have described can be done on your laptop and our experience has been that about 90 percent of large boat cruisers have a laptop onboard, but what about fishermen in small boats and people out day cruising in the sportboat? Hello, ever tried to use a laptop on a PWC?

Phone Vs. Laptop

But a laptop has some drawbacks over the mobile phone.

First of all it is big! Where are you going to put it on your center console? Your typical laptop computer was not designed to work in the harsh and often unforgiving marine environment. It is more fragile, takes up more space, has a longer boot up time and uses far more power. Finally, when it comes to true mobility, a mobile phone blows a laptop away. Try taking your laptop with you for navigation on your bass boat!

Java and Flash is a Problem

We are not suggesting that you can take your laptop off of large boats -- at least not yet. There are still tasks that will most likely require your laptop. Some websites use embedded software such as Java or Flash, which will not run on today’s mobile phones. And for some tasks, the small screen and keyboard may be a detriment.

But we believe that 85 percent of what you are doing with your laptop today on your boat can be done as well, if not better, on a mobile phone. We believe the day may come when a mobile phone will be your only onboard computer. Smoker Craft or Megayacht Email is probably the single biggest use of any Internet connected device. Your mobile phone can be with you at the helm if you are fishing in your 16’ Smoker Craft or at the helm of your megayacht. Best of all you can easily take it with you, going ashore, visiting another boat, or tootling around in your dinghy.

Office Afloat

Access to the Internet and email on our boat was literally a life changing experience for us. It made the difference between cruising several months of the year and staying ashore. For the past 5 years we have been able to run our business from our boat while exploring the East Coast from Maine to Key West and the Bahamas. Now we are hardly ever out of touch with our customers and business partners.

On our last cruise we managed to be continuously connected the entire distance from Castine, Maine, to Vero Beach, Florida, with the exception of 25 miles on the Pungo-Alligator Canal. And that included being up to 20 miles offshore.

Weather Reports without Bothering the Fish…

Access to timely, accurate weather is critical for added safety and enjoyment. Your mobile phone is perfectly suited to this task, too. It is particularly handy if you are out bass fishing and you don’t want to turn on a VHF and spook those hungry guys below. You can easily access and display NOAA marine text predictions from the NOAA website – silently!

You want to go ashore and have lunch, buy more bait, or do some shopping, but are afraid of weather coming in while you’re away from the boat? Forget about the VHF, just open your phone! Try lugging around your five-pound laptop and see how much fun that can be.

Next Week – Chapter #3: Boosting Your Mobile Signal
© Karen and Jeffrey Siegel

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