Saturday, June 9, 2012

iPad Onboard - Entertainment

In my last blog entry I gave you a few tips on taking photos and talked about some must have accessories for your iPad.  The iPad is not only a great GPS and navigating tool on board it is also a great source of entertainment as well.

We are all familiar with Apples original iPod. These little devices changed the music industry and how we purchase and listen to music.  Back when I was growing up everyone had a boom box. These were large battery powered portable stereos with big speakers. They had the ability to play the radio and cassette tapes.  Many of us had cases of cassette tapes in the back seats of our cars. Later versions came with a CD player.  It was not uncommon to see people carrying these things around on their shoulders.  Every party had a boom box blaring out loud disco, rock or heavy metal.

Boom boxes still exist today and have become more sophisticated.  Now you will find docking stations on most boom boxes for your Apple devices.  This allows you to connect your iPod, iPhone or iPad and play music through the larger speakers.  We can now easily carry around thousands of movies and songs on our iPhone or iPad.

The iPad and iPhone are much more personal devices and do not have the large speakers to share your music with others as the boom box did. Today we see all the kids wearing ear buds or headphones plugged into their iPods or MP3 players. I even have a real nice pair of Bose noise cancelling headphones myself.  These are great for using on the airplane to get rid of background noise and listening to music or movies. Make sure you get the over the ear style shown at right. These are more comfortable and quieter than the on the ear version.

If  you already have an on board stereo system there are a few ways to connect your iPhone or iPad to it.

Most newer stereos come with a 3.5 inch auxiliary connection. You can pick up one of these cables and connect your device directly to your stereo system. 

I prefer to go the wireless route so I am free to move around the boat and also have the ability to change songs and control the volume.  The iPhone and iPad both have Bluetooth technology which is a wireless communications protocol with a range of about 30 feet.

I recently purchased an iHome Bluetooth speaker that works great. It has about a 40 foot range and is rechargeable. It also comes with an iPad stand.

To wirelessly connect my iPhone or iPad to my existing stereo system, I purchased one of these little Bluetooth receivers.  I plugged this into my stereo receiver down below. I am then able to move about the boat with my iPhone or iPad controlling my music selections.  The range is limited but it does allow me to be disconnected. 

Bluetooth can be turned on in your iPhone or iPad in the settings menu under General settings. Once Bluetooth is turned on it will search for your Bluetooth device. You can then pair with that device and connect.

If you have a larger yacht with WiFi on board you may want to use the Apple TV as discussed in my earlier post.  The  Apple TV box will cost your $99 but will give you the ability to stream music or 1080p video to your on board entertainment system and big screen TV.  WiFi will give you extended range and allow you to control your stereo system from anywhere on your yacht.

If you are a gamer there are tons of games for the iPad that will allow you to entertain yourself for hours and hours on those long trans Atlantic crossings.  I am not a big gamer but I have to admit that I have played Angry Bird a few times.

If you are a big reader there are tons of books and magazines available through the iTunes store. Some of my favorites boating magazines are Cruising World, Yachting, Islands Magazine, and Caribbean Travel and Life.

Well, there is no doubt that the iPad is a great entertainment tool to have on board your boat. It is the perfect companion and will keep you entertained for hours. How do you use your iPad for entertainment?

~~~Sail On~~~


  1. My fiancee and I are researching iPad's for our upcoming trip from British Columbia to Australia. Your blog has been very helpful. Neither of us is especially gifted with electronics...but I own an iPhone4 so hope the jump to iPad will be relatively smooth. Thanks so much for all this information. Until today we have often wondered if an iPad could work as part of our electronics package. We have a Catalina 34 Mk2 1998. We are going to the Seattle boat show in January and hope to have some more informed questions to ask. Thanks so much!

    1. Rose,

      Welcome and glad you find the site useful! That is the whole idea of all this blogging. I hope you start your own blog about your travels.

      The iPad has many uses on a boat. I think you will find it useful for music, videos, games, entertainment, GPS chartplotting, points of interest, photography, video conferencing(facetime, video editing, reading, writing and a thousand other things. I hardly ever start my laptop anymore, and when I do it take to long.

      Whats not to like about the iPad or the iPad mini. I would definitely pick one up for your travels. Make sure to get the 3 or 4G model. These have the GPS chip in them. That way the GPS will work anywhere in the world with all your chartplotting apps.

      I would not rely on it as your main chartplotter. I would recommend using it only as a backup. I however, do know of people using them full time. If so, get a LifeProof case to waterproof it and have some kind of backup plan.

      I would appreciate you sharing my blog with all your cruising friends. Become a follower and keep up on the latest apps. Thanks for your support.

      Let me know about your experiences with the iPad on your ocean travels.


    2. Thanks again. We just got back from the boat show...ours heads are full with all the options. At this point it seems as though the latest iPad is the one with Retina display, wifi and cellular is the "most capable". Is this the one you would choose? I figure that if it does all that, it gives us more options...if we buy a local sim card we could use it to skype our family when we are close enough to a wifi connection. Am I missing anything here? We don't at present know how to download movies and do already have music on other you see any big benefit to getting the 32, or 64 GB vs the 16? Movies of those fantastic places, I guess? Also at the bottom of the Wifi and cellular model it states:

      This model can roam worldwide on fast cellular data networks, including HSPA, HSPA+ and DC-HSDPA. (what are these???) When you travel internationally you can use a micro-Sim card from a local carrier. (These, I am hoping, are fairly simple plug in and go, but definately have my attention!)

      So how many gig do you think we may need and what are those HSPA/DC-HSDPA? latter 12 volt?

      Thanks so much and we will spread the word!

    3. Rose,

      Glad to hear your doing your homework. Boat shows are one of my favorite places to hang out.

      Get the latest full size iPad, retina display 3/4G with at least 32 GB. Make sure to get the 3/4G cellular model. That has an actual GPS chip in it. You will not need to activate your cell plan to use the GPS. I have the 16 GB and it fills up too fast.

      The HSDPA is High Speed Data Packet Access. Those are the high speed data protocols that the iPad uses. I don't think you want to use the data roaming overseas. It can get expensive. Use WiFi where you can to save money.

      If you carry a laptop, you can download the pictures and video off your ipad to the laptop to save space.

      Good Luck