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Navplanner 2 - An honest review

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Navionic's second attempt at planning software is practically as useless and lacking in appropriate code as their first attempt. Expect to be truly disappointed if you are a serious planner.

1. For Lowrance users, the waypoint symbols do not match the GPS mfg. You make a yellow flag or a blue dot in your gps, you wont find that in Navplanner 2. So, all your waypoint symbols will not transfer back and forth properly and you will have to change them all back one by one in your GPS if you use this software - and do it every time you use it and re upload to your machine. Right there that is enough to make it useless for me. Who wants all their custom gps waypoints changed to some generic symbols everytime? Navplanner 2 provides for numerous Icons (you choose your mfg) but all of those in my Lowrance machine are not available in the software. For instance my GPS provides for 5 or 6 different colors for Flags. I only use a couple but the software only has one Red Flag. If you prefer green you are likely to see it converted to all Blue Diamonds. If you are color blind, expect to be disappointed. I called Fugawi about this. They say the next release will fix that conversion issue but I am not sure if they care about providing a full match for every icon and the available colors. How it is that they could release a 2nd version of a planning tool without a complete match of GPS mfg. icons is completely indicative of the rest of this software package. Unbelievable not to mention really freaking dumb. They did not figure this out after the first release? To make it more ridiculous, you can't change Icon Colors but they allow you to change the color of of the waypoint names and format those a variety of ways. Most of my icons names are hidden so that is pretty useless. Sort of funny they would provide for that ability, but no ability to change Icon color which is what most people look at. Then with respect to changing Icons in bulk quantities, there is no ability for that. Say you have a few hundred waypoints and decide you want to change your Wreck Icons to Flags or to Fish or whatever and want to do them all at one time forget about that... First, you have to know the Mfg. Waypoint Number. For instance a Red Flag is No. 039. Yes, no ability to sort the actual icons themselves. You go to the library list of icons and they provide only the mfg. numbers to sort on requiring you to figure out what the waypoint Icon mfg. # is. If you want to change all of one Icon to something else, you can't do that either. It only lets you edit one at a time. So if you highlight say 30 waypoints that are all the same and want to change the icon in one step it will highlight them all and if you click Edit and change the symbol, only the very first selection is changed. The other 29 remain unchanged. And they at Navionics say this is "powerful software" unrivaled by others. Just these basic code oversights sort of chop any of the positives the software may have over other products right off at the knees in my book.
2. The ability to cut a track into 2 pieces is not allowed. So if you make a 20 mile long track and find once on the water that a portion of this track in the middle (not one of the end segments) needs to be cut out, The software does not allow for this. You are screwed. The entire track needs to be erased and redrawn. Garmin has a scissors Icon.. Click, and highlight the section you want and its out in a snap. Navionics says this is not a big deal because not many people do this.
3. The ability to join two tracks into one is not easily accomplished. I suppose you could open one track library and copy a 2nd into it and then delete the separate 2nd but this is a real pain. People want to work with the maps and the lines on the maps.. not a library of numbers in a box. By comparison, Garmin has a one click icon.
4. Drawing is much easier in Garmin. You don't see the line drawn in Navpanner 2 until after you click the mouse and it draws to the pointer. Garmin lets you move the entire line where you want it and release where you want the line. You see the end of the line then you put the pointer where you want it to go and click and connects the points. Not as useful as dragging an entire line extension to exactly where you want.
5. Centering and zooming completely suck in Navplanner2. And if you were working in Miami last, expect to see something up in Cedar Key everytime you turn on the software and then take about 30 seconds to have to get back to your last work area. Click the magnifying glass which you would think is a zoom and find its not. It's a center. You have to continually recenter then zoom to get where you want. Working with these zoom in and out and centering fns are nowhere is simple or as fast and easy as Garmin. These functions are comparatively slow and aggravating. Often times the entire map will not show. For instance if you zoom out to see the upper Keys once you zoom out everything from Marathon south is missing. That portion of the map does not load until you zoom in over there. You wont find this in Garmin's Mapsource.
6. I find uploading the and downloading the maps back and forth is more intuitive and easier with Garmin. For instance, it appears you have to upload your tracks, waypoints and routes all separately in different steps to get it all into one file to transfer. That is right, you have to download and upload your tracks and waypoints and routes all separately every time. Maybe I am missing something about that but if so, it just goes to show that it is far less intuitive than Mapsource where the process requires no directions at all and is snap to figure out. When I boot up the program, I expect to see a blank map and then have to open a complete map file that I have previously created with all of its routes and waypoints. When I save a map, I expect to be able to name that entire file with all of its waypoints tracks and routes a name and have that one file only to transfer where I want. Open Navplanner and click "File" you only see a selection of base maps to open.. not a map file created from which to choose. Right there it will create lots of uncertainty among users. Users expect to see a list of files like you find in virtually every other software out there. Click "Maps" (right next to File) and you find exactly the same thing.. a bunch of blank base maps to choose exactly the same as those in Files. What is the difference? No idea. Did I mention.. lack of intuitive features? Perhaps I am mistaken, but it would seem in Navplanner2 on your computer, you can only have one map file saved at at time.
7. Seeing your tracks is much easier with Garmin. Get to the track or route list in mapsource and click one and it automatically shines up in bright colors on the map. You can see where your tracks are easily. This is not available in Navplanner. All you see is the list but where exactly it is on the map is a guess. Hardly a pleasure to work with when managing longer complicated tracks.
8. There is No viable Undo function. There is an Icon buried in the Track edit window but mine does not even function. Delete a point, Click the undue and it does not undo a thing. Its like a dead button. Plus, in the help directions, it says it is only supposed to work for only the very last move and nothing prior to that. So if your button does happen to work, and you want to undue your last five moves, forget about that......
Control Z does not work. If you delete a waypoint by accident there is no Undo for that. So if you are working in your waypoint library and find you deleted one or more than you intended, they are gone.....I find no undo botton at all (even one that does not work) in the waypoint library window.

There is plenty more to add but just the above is enough to kill the product as one that is actually viable.

So I was hoping to be able to work with this because I wanted to work directly on the aerial images in the platinum + images. All of the above pretty much canned that idea. So, I have been forced to convert all of my stuff back into Garmin format and I have been using Garmin's program to work on my map planning. I can pull it all up in Google and see was I need to see and google pulls in all the data automatically as a .KML file so my tracks and waypoints are right there on the Aerial. (better than navplanner which allows you to import your map into google but this is not as good as Garmin). Using Google with Garmin is better than navplanner because although its not a split screen with auto track, it is a separate screen all together which lets you use all of Google's Controls. Pulling in Google via navplanner does not allow you to use all of the google controls. Thus, you cannot view historical google images which is very important. Sometimes changing the history of the image shows you something very different than the most current image which navplanner uses. So I use mapsource for all my planning, then convert everything back to Lowrance format with software and reload that. You can export the info from NP2 to google as well but you have to go through an export process that is more complicated than Mapsource and to see your info right on the image as you work is not a practical endeavor in NP2. In the Mapsource, you click View in Google and in a few seconds all your latest entries appear right on teh google image in a just a few seconds. Make another few changes, click the button and in a few seconds all of that new data shows up in Google as well. Pretty fast..

The only thing I have found that Navplanner is useful for is once the garmin planning is done and converted, I can use NP2 to drag a track point around if I find I want to fine tune after.

Then there are other issues. Support at Fugawi for the US is in Canada - not the US. So if you have to send them your reader or chip for testing or some other reason, expect it to be expensive. Nearly $30 for a for a simple small envelope weighing as much as a typical letter.

Bottom line - Navplanner 2 should never have been released and is pretty much useless as a planner aid if you do anything beyond the most simplest routes and care about how your icons appear on your machine. The Navionics response was pretty much something like "most the icons are available.. if some are missing that your mfg provides that you use it's not that big of a deal...find another and most captains just use a couple anyway". That is great.. you tell us how we should set up our machines and what we should find acceptable. Customers love that kind of attitude.... With respect to the Icon transfer problems that are on going.. the Navionics rep doesn't care much to talk about that other than to say they are aware of it. I guess they will fix it sometime. In the meantime, if you run Lowrance, get used to plenty of Diamond icons with no ability to change them to anything else at a greater speed than one at a time.

Navionics or better yet, Lorwance should take this back in house, pull up Garmin's software, and develop something that that emulates all of Garmin's features. Garmin has the mapping wired and that is the standard by which any new releases of Navplanner should be based. So I am now advised by Fugawi there is Navplanner 3 or some update to NP2 in the works since the last release still leaves so much to be desired. Let's hope they do their homework and ensure that any updates provide at least all of the same planning features a consumer may find in Mapsource. They need to toss all of the current code in the garbage and start completely over. Navplanner 2 is a complete waste of money IMHO.

As a final note, I have no allegiance to any mfg. I am not pushing Garmin software because I have any interest there. I just through them under the bus for their crappy sonar and bought a Lorwance. The Garmin sonar sucks (as most people know) when compared to the others available. However, Garmin has the mapping and software thing wired well and their GPS units are nicely set up (except for their screens on many units which have inferior reflective coating and don't hold up for many users). It's all a trade off. With respect to Navionics, they have great mapping as well but their mapping software is poorly conceived and they defend it as the best out there. It's clearly not. If my post seems harsh on the NP2, its only because sometimes the truth is harsh. The product is what it is and I am just providing what it does and what it does not do or do well from an actual users perspective that does a lot of map planning. That is the kind of information most readers who are in the market for new gadgets are seeking and appreciate. Detailed reviews by actual users with allegiance only to fellow users and readers have always been appreciated. That is the only intent here. I don't want others to waste their money on NP2 like I did and be dissapointed. I wished a review such as this would have been available for me to read so I could have at least known what to expect if I decided to try it out.

3 Replies

  • What software program do you use to do the conversion?

  • Agree, this product is a heap of rubbish. Hard to believe that any self respecting software architect or product designer could come up with such hideous late 90s tripe.

  • I knew that the Navplanner 2 is not perfect but decided to buy it because I own Raymarine with Navionics Gold Card. Now after my summer trip I must admit that the Navplanner 2 is even worse then expected. On PC you can’t show all maps you own at once but only pieces of them, what makes planning very difficult. On Raymarine the software works very slowly and you cannot download tracks from Raymarine to PC. For up- and downloading you have to use original Navionics cards with a risk of deleting your original map data. Really bad system, really bad software.