Topic: PC version vs. calculator version, which to buy?
posted December 17, 2006 01:03 PM
We have had several questions about which is the better choice for the StarPilot navigation program. Should i get the PC version or the calculator version?
The ideal solution is to own both, but that is not often practical since these are relatively expensive products... we say relatively because you can in fact by PC programs for cel nav for $50 or less that are actually nice products... but the StarPilot is the state of the art and has many very important functions that no other product has, not to mention that there is no other product that includes such a broad array of piloting functions for coastal navigation as well.
On the other hand, there is no real competitor for the calculator version. There is one on the market from Tamaya that costs very much more, but it is nowhere near the functionality of the StarPilot.
So there is no real question about products if one is looking for a calculator, but you might consider other options for the PC version if all you need are the basics or almanac look up and sight reduction... in fact there are very good free programs for that level of solution.
So the question at hand boils down to those who want all the powerful functions of the StarPilot and do not know which would be the best platform for their application.
Here are the related issues:
(1) Costs: the PC version costs $129 downloaded. The calculator version software also costs $129 downloaded, but you have to own a TI-89 or Titanium type calculator and these cost $100 to $150 or so... but you might find one used for much less. The older TI-89 works just as well as the newer model TI-titanium. On the other hand, a new titanium model with program installed, back up CD and printed manual sells for $379 (starpath price is $349). So step 1, the PC version costs less.
(2) Computations: The two programs are almost identical in content and menu structure. The only difference is the PC version includes an analytical solution to the 3-body horizontal sextant angle fix, which is a powerful means of piloting, but we also have an article online that tells how to get these solutions with a single very quick computation plus a simple plot.
(3) Functionality: The PC program is
— obviously much faster, especially for longer computations like lunar distances for longitude or predicting the best set of sights when you include moon and planets, or when analyzing a set of sights to figure the best one of the lot.
— the graphics are much larger and easier to work with.
— printing is easy
— archiving sights is easier (however, you can archive sights in the calculator and then move them to the PC to store, but the sights saved from a calculator will not open in the PC version)
(4) Use underway
— If you are not planning to use the product underway but only at home, then the PC version is likely the better choice.
— Underway is another issue. The calculator version is easier to use underway, you sit anywhere while working with it; it is easy to close in a hurry if you have to protect it, and in general easier to use and store than is a PC. On the other hand, if your nav station has a built in PC and you are in fact relying on PC navigation or communications etc so the PC is built in and protected and will always we readily available, then why not just add the PC version to your system and not have to have more items of extra expense.
— If your boat is small and you have limited space, and your PC is only for occasion use, then you will be happier with the calculator for your daily navigation chores... as it is used frequently throughout the day when underway.
Those are the main issues. As a side note, the PC version license allows it to be registered a total of 3 times, which means if you lose your PC or buy a new one, you can install the program onto it. The calculator program is unique to one calculator. If you lose your calculator the only recourse is your insurance company.
From: Starpath, Seattle, WA