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Bill Finkelstein

Nobeltec Self Distructing? No 4 GB OS support!

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Hi Everyone!

Don't know for certain, but it sure looks to me like Nobeltec is self destructing. In any case, they have a growing number of ex and soon to be ex customers.

We have Visual Navigation Suite (VNS) onboard Raptor Dance is Mexico and I'm an officer of the Vallarta Yacht Club. We recently had about 5 or 6 members and former VNS customers who got new Laptops. Since they ordered powerful laptops, with more than 4 Gb of main memory - they came with 64 Bit Visa. No joy - there new laptop would not run their copy of VNS. So they abandoned Nobeltec.

Nobeltec is quite adamant that they only support 32 bit OS's and that they have no plans to support 64 bit Visa or Windows 7.

To me, that means Nobeltec's lifespan will be very short as 32 bit laptops are too wimpy for many of us "power users".

Oh by the way - their charts for Mexico also are horrid and have been for quite some time: 1 to 3 miles off with no promise to improve. You get all the usual excuses from them about "legal consequences" of using non-official charts.

FWIW - most of us in Mexico use Google Earth when we need an accurate overview of a new anchorage - plus local knowledge from other cruisers. The guidebooks are some help, but they have a some inaccurate data too (we've pulled a few boats off the mud in Barra de Navidad who followed the advice in cruising guides).

So we will be upgrading our boat computers this summer and are looking for a good program (Coastal Explorer?) that supports 64 Bit OS's and hopefully has decent charts for Mexico.

Any recommendations?

Bill Finkelstein
SV Raptor Dance

19 Replies

  • I was not entertained by this post. You could get a recommendation here, without trashing your current vendor, by telling us what kind of boat you have, how you use it, etc.

    I am doubtful you really want advice as much as retribution ... but my 2 cents is to check out VMWARE. I believe it will allow you to create a virtual machine on your laptop that will appear to all installed software as a 4GB, 32 bit machine, and solve such problems.

  • I'm surprised to hear this, Bill, though Jeppesen said at the Miami Boat Show that it was putting more resources into charts than the charting software. And rumor has it that Nobeltec is for sale.

    I can tell you that Coastal Explorer 2009 (which I like a lot), Fugawi Marine ENC 4.5, The Capn Version 8, and Memory Map V5 all work fine on this Vista 64, 4G, desktop I'm using right now. Others, like Tiki and the NavSim family, probably do too.

  • Dan & Ben - Thank you for your replies.

    Dan - Sorry if you read my post as trashing Nobeltec. I've been a (previously) loyal customer of theirs since release 4... My intention was to report on the situation and to relate the extreme disappointment, feeling of abandonment and yes, a bit of anger over the depreciation many of us feel over our investment in their charts and software.

    VMWare, Virtual Box, Parallels and the other Virtual Machine Operating Environments are interesting possibilities. I have been familiar with the technology since IBM's CP-67 on the 360/67 back in the 1960s. I do see the following challenges:

    1. I think that the complexity of setting up and managing these environments is beyond the capabilities of most cruisers.
    2. It's not clear (to me anyway) which can run a 32 bit OS under a 64 bit host OS.
    3. A separate license for the 32 bit version of XP or Vista is probably required.

    The Virtual XP instance that you can reportedly run under the Release Candidate of Windows 7 is another possibility - I just don't know if it ends up being a 32 bit instance of XP under 64 bit Windows 7.

    Bottom line - I'm sure I could get Nobeltec to work under a 32 bit virtual machine - it would take a bit of effort on my part and I'm sure the effort is beyond most cruisers capabilities.

    Right now Coastal Explorer 2009 is the most promising alternative, but I (and my other cruising friends) are still on the search for reasonably accurate charts of Mexico! Most of the sources we are aware of have the long standing 1 to 3 mile inaccuracy problem.

    Do any of the software products allow you to easily suck in Google Earth satellite photos and use them? Preferably without a lot of work needed to calibrate the photos to the lat/lon locations contained therein.

    Ben - next time you are at a boat show - challenge the chart vendors with the following location: 20°41.69'N 105°17.58'W. That is our location in Nuevo Vallarta, Mexico. Google Earth and Maps shows Raptor Dance in her slip. C-Map, Nobeltec (now C-Map), Maptech and the other charts I've looked at (Paper too!) show us inland about a mile. I've heard some reports that recent Navionics Gold charts are more accurate, but have not been able to verify.

    Dan - Also, to answer your question about our boat and how we use it:

    Raptor Dance is a 2001 Valiant 50. We have off cruising since 2004, since we left for Mexico. We then (May 2005) went up to British Columbia and went as far as 51 North (the West End of Vancouver Island & Broughton Archipelago). We then (June 2006) sailed back down the Pacific Coast, returning to Mexico in late October 2006. We've cruised Mexico from Zihuatanejo to the Sea of Cortez since out of our home slip in Banderas Bay. We are planning to continue to Cruise Mexico for the foreseeable future as this is a wonderful venue and there are many places we still have not been.


    I haven't seen any announcements from Nobeltec, but I thought I would try installing VNS Max Pro on the new 64 bit Shuttle SX58H7 I just built. Works fine!

    This SX58H7 is our new boat computer on Raptor Dance. I built it with a Core i7 920, ATI XFX Radeon HD 4890, Seagate 1.5 TB hard drive and 6 Meg memory. I partitioned the hard drive to multi-boot in Vista Ultimate, Windows 7 RC and Ubuntu. Win 7 is subjectively a big improvement over Vista, but Ubuntu blows both away in performance and what's installed standard.

    I think the hang up with VNS in 64 bit Windows may have been a 64 bit driver for the dongle that Jeppesen uses. One is now available and it installs and runs fine with the latest service pack from Nobeltec. I did not have to separately download the 64 bit driver as I thought I would...

    I installed the base version of VNS (which I received as a free upgrade from VNS 9 last year), then the service pack before attempting to hook up the dongle. When I did, it just worked!

    Emboldened by success on Vista 64 (SP2), I tried installing it on Windows 7 RC, no joy - the driver would not install for the dongle. Software appears OK, just can't find the dongle.

    I also tried to install VNS under the XP virtual machine on Windows 7 (which is 32 bit XP Pro) - no joy getting the dongle driver to install there either.

    So Progress has been made!

  • Nobeltec actually does plan to support 64-bit, but they do not have a definite time of completion, as they are trying to work with the manufacturers of the peripheral equipment to get drivers that will support 64 bit. I learned this by calling their support line.

    Also, I have tested the VNS Max Pro software on Windows 7, and had no problems with the driver or the program and charts. Many times, it is the user account control that creates problems with Vista and 7, so try turning that off.

  • Nobeltec runs on Windows 7 (64bit) without any problem, you can be 100% sure! I tried it with radars too!

  • It runs for me, but fails to shutdown properly. Also periodic crashes. So no, it's not ready. Which is also what the Nobeltec web page says.

  • Same problem, new laptop with Windows 7.
    Nobeltec doesn't support my older version.
    Just purchased Fugawi and love it!

  • I found this thread after spending more then an hour on the phone with the folks at Nobeltec. I too have been a long time Nobeltec user and I loved their product for many years. However, the last few years have been a challenge for me. I am nor on Nobeltec 9 and have Windows 7 x64. Apparently Nobeltec 9 works on W7 64 bit but there are known bugs with Version 10. They have no release date yet but they are thinking about early summer according to the guy I spoke with.

    I also confirmed some of my additional frustrations. They are now owned by MaxSea and admitted that the removal of the ENC support was to to a previous contract with the folks at c-map. So the good news here is that they can again support ENC charts, but I was told that it is not currently a feature that they have slated to add to the product. In addition, it seems that even NOAA raster charts are now unsupported in Version 10 unless you pony up more $$ for an add on.

    The other thing that seems crazy is that the move from version 9 to version 10 requires a move from passport charts to C-map charts. This is again an extra cost even if you already own the charts. The good news is that you do seem to get a bit more coverage after the upgrade. The bad news is that I could not get a clear answer about how long these charts are good for before I need to pay for updates or how much the updates will cost.

    As a loyal customer who has spent MUCH money with Nobeltec I am very disappointed. In order to get my version 9 software updated to version 10 I need to pay for an upgrade, pay to upgrade charts and also buy an add-on pack to get support for my NOAA raster charts. In the end this is around $500 just to upgrade! And even after the upgrade I will still have LESS functionality from a chart compatibility perspective since Version 10 does not support ENC charts.

    This leaves me with the choice of spending $500 to stick with Nobeltec or looking at another solution. At $500 I can buy some pretty nice software and have a much better idea about what my future costs will be. It seems to me that Nobeltec has lost their focus on the customer and that they are having a hard time finding their way.

    So I hope that someone at Nobeltec can get their ship back on course. They have a very good product and charts that are excellent. I just hope that they can get their customer focus back and start adding functionality instead or removing it. Now that there is a new owner we can all have a lot more hope for the future.

  • Not happy with Nobeltec

    Had an older version last year and needed new charts for Alaska, upgrades were not available so I have to buy a new version of noble tech and charts for 800+ dollars when I installed them on the computer and check them, I found several bridges I needed to pass under with no height information which needless to say upset me with a 60+ foot mast going under a bridge and not sure of the height is a bit disturbing. I Talk to the dealer and noble tech and they were not interested in refunding my money and I refuse to keep the program because of the possibility it could lead my ship to disaster, figure it was cheaper to walk away from the 800 hundred dollars then to lose everything, so any chance I can talk bad of Nobeltec
    I will.

  • Keith

    Thank you for your comments. This is a great opportunity for me to clarify some things that have not be very clear over the past few months.

    First, Nobeltec was not purchased by MaxSea.
    A company called Signet S.A. purchased Nobeltec.
    Both MaxSea and Nobeltec, as well as MapMedia, are now all owned by the same financial holding company, Signet S.A.. It is important to note that Nobeltec is not owned by, nor directed by MaxSea.

    Second, Nobeltec (even when owned by Jeppesen) dropped the fee for the Raster Plus Pack. It is true that early in the life of VNS v10 and Admiral v10 Nobeltec was compelled to charge $50 for the ability to render raster charts. However, 1 year ago we removed that charge and now offer the ability to render raster charts as included in the standard offering of both products. That episode of our company history is in our past - we have corrected the problem one year ago and are moving on. In fact to make amends for the pain our customers have felt over the past 2 years we are actively working on something that you will be very pleased with. But we are not quite ready to announce it - so please stay tuned.

    As for the price that you beleive you would have to pay for the overall upgrade from VNS 9 to VNS 10, I am surprised that you feel the upgrade price would be so high.

    The price of an upgrade for VNS is $180 Suggested Retail Price, and many dealers carry it for slightly less. The price of upgrading from Passport Charts to MAX Pro charts is relatively cheap - all you have to pay is the price of a MAX Pro chart region renewal ($105 for a Wide Region or $150 for a Mega Wide Region). That is a discount of more than 66% off the standard price of MAX Pro charts for customers upgrading from Passport Charts and then you own the charts for life. Plus, you get the benefit of 1 year of Jeppesen's Quick Sync Chart Updating Service.

    I am sorry that any of that information was unclear or hard to come by. It is not a secret and should be information that all our employees and dealers can provide to all of our customers.

    If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact Nobeltec at 1-800-946-2877 or via email at [email protected]


    -Bill Washburn
    Product Manager
    Nobeltec, Inc.

  • Dave

    It is disheartening to hear you (or anyone) say that they would take any chance to talk badly of Nobeltec. But it is true, we have taken many missteps over the past few years while under Jeppesen's ownership.

    Now that we are with a different ownership group, we are investing heavily to correct our mistakes and make things right.

    You speak of a problem with Bridge Heights on VNS or Admiral v10 (using C-MAP MAX Pro charts). This issue had been corrected in a patch that has been available for quite some time now. If you upgrade your system to v10.5 (patch is available on our web site under the Support - Downloads section) this should address and correct the situation you find yourself in.

    If you have any further questions or comments, please feel free to contact Nobeltec at 1-800-946-2877 or via email at [email protected]


    -Bill Washburn
    Product Manager
    Nobeltec, Inc.

  • Nobetec just issued a free update to Maxpro 10 which includes Win 7 and 64 bit

    BTW, I installed VNS 10 on my 64 bit Win 7 machine in January without any hassles.

    I am no Nobeltec champion, having had my troubles. However, they have usually responded fairly well.
    I accept weaknesses in such software that I would not accept from Adobe or Microsoft, because the recreational marine market is so small that I (with experience in developing and supporting niche market software) have some sympathy for.

  • Bill, your comments regarding Signet and MaxSea seem somewhat disingenuous. It's a matter of public record that Signet's President and founder is Brice Pryszo, also the founder of MaxSea and MapMedia.

    Signet is also headquartered in Bidart, France, the same city where MaxSea is located. A small town, considerably smaller than Portland. And Mr. Pryszo's son, Iker, is in charge of MaxSea development.

    Technically you are of course correct, Signet, not MaxSea, owns Nobeltec. But let's be clear that the same person who is owns and directs MaxSea, owns and directs Nobeltec, from the same small town in France.

  • With all thatis and has happened to Nobeltec. I thought I better inquire about a backup DONGLE. I was told by Nobeltec sale that they now charge $800....NOT the $99 or less that was offered by Nobeltec vendors a couple of years ago....Is Nobeltec being MILKED dry like the cash cow before being sold as T-bone stakes....

  • Hi there,

    Here is my Nobeltec little story. I am not happy with Nobetec.
    I started with Nobeltec VNS 10.7 and Max Pro24 charts for Puget Sound & Vancouver Island about 2 years ago.
    Max Pro24 was missing Patricia Bay, near Sidney, BC and had many other errors. I upgraded to charts 26 & 27. I now have Patricia Bay but numerous Island are sliced and have positional errors of about 100 yards in places. Depending which side of the slice you use the same position is 100 yards different. I find many other errors, do I dare use them?
    Nobeltec manual has a heading: " Power of Max Pro Charts " How can charts so full of errors have any power? The underlying Canadian Govt charts do not have any of these errors.
    Nobeltec has a " Route Wizard " Any and every time I try to use this, I collide with a nearby Island. Could this be why these Islands are sliced?
    Compare this to a much cheaper Garmin chartplotter I purchased with Garmin Bluecharts G2 Vision for the same area.
    I am still trying to find any errors with these charts and they have their own form of route wizard which Garmin calls Auto-guidance. With almost no practice, just watched a little you tube video, Garmin gets me there while going around more than 1 island. Google maps gets me places for free and accurately.
    Nobeltec support suggests I buy the newest 27 charts while Nobeltec sales tells me they are phasing out VNS.
    Sales now recommends their new Trident product. Fat chance, I ......
    Jeppesen got my input but seem to be ignoring these reported errors, as they wait for me to disappear. I have a few images which do not look impressive.
    A Nobetec user (on a blog) did not see much value and I do understand.
    As for me, because I bought the Garmin, I can clearly say: I have zero value.

    Vancouver Island, Canada

  • I sure hope the $800 charge isn't correct! I lost my dongle and I will have to look to another system before paying that much.

  • Hi Guys,

    I have an interest in PC or Mac-based navigation software strictly for the bathymetric data (high-res bottom contour charts) for fishing in the greater Puget Sound and Canadian San Juans / Vancouver Island area. I was looking at the (pricy) Catch software vs. others available. I have Furuno NavNet vx2 (C-Map) gear on board and could tie in the sounder box & GPS data to the Nobeltec software. Your opinions would be appreciated.

    Also, any of you out there running PC naviation software on a late model Mac running Windows 7 x64 via Parallels? Thanks!

  • I bought nobeltec vnsn9 fantastic program worked very well until I needed a new computer it has never worked again after that.I have now gone backwards and bought a second hand laptop with windows xp. What I don't understand is why did it cost me a couple of thousand dollars and wont work anymore, what a rip of. It only worked for a year or so and Nobeltech in Australia have never ever given me the courtesy of a reply to my emails. If you buy a car you would probably get it fixed somehow at least. Give Nobelect the flick as far as I am concerned they have stolen my money and I hope they go broke.