Toughbooks for Marine Charting Software & Electronic Charts

Toughbooks for Marine Charting Software & Electronic Charts

Posted by Austin Potter on 10th Aug 2016

Last Updated: 11/22/2023

We have already proven that the Panasonic Toughbook can produce turn-by-turn directions, but what else can it do? You might be surprised to find out that it can guide you just as well on water as it can on the road. Toughbooks can use marine GPS navigation software to assist mariners while they are out on the water.

What is Marine GPS Software?

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a worldwide navigation system based on the signals received by orbiting satellites. GPS uses trilateration which is a technique used to pinpoint location, velocity, and elevation.

Marine navigation software typically includes advanced chart plotting features that allow users to plan and visualize routes on electronic charts. Chart plotting software uses two types of charts: raster charts, which are electronic images of paper charts, and vector charts, which are digital representations of data where charts are not stored as images but digital objects.

Marine Navigation Tools

Depending on your chosen software, it can also come with a few extra features to help you while on the water. A few examples of features that can be included are collision alerting, weather routing, and autopilot output support.

The greatest feature about these different chart plotter options listed below is that they can run on Panasonic Toughbooks. As long as you have a unit with enough RAM and storage, you can download the software, set it up, and hit the open water in no time!

Why Would I Use a Toughbook For Marine Software?

Toughbooks and Toughpads are the best options for marine GPS systems because of their significant water resistance. For example, the newly released Panasonic Toughbook FZ-40 has an ingress protection (IP) rating of IP66. If you have read our blog on military certifications and IP ratings, you might remember that the second number on this IP rating is for protection against water. With that number being six, it can handle water dripping on it, spraying on it, splashing on it, and powerful water jets. Depending on where you plan on boating, how rough the water is, and what the weather looks like, you may very well need this level of water resistance.

The amount of processing power is another reason you should choose a product from Panasonic's line of fully rugged computers. The average Toughbook comes with an Intel Core i5 processor, and you can even find some configurations with Intel Core i7 processors. They also normally come with 8GB of RAM, with the option to upgrade to 16GB on most models. Newer models can even take up to 64GB of RAM!

One of the bigger perks of Toughbooks and Toughpads is that there is plenty of storage in them. We recommend an SSD over an HDD for faster boot-up times and application start-ups. (For a side-by-side comparison on SSD vs. HDD boot-up times, we have a video on our YouTube channel, which you can find here.) As for the size of the hard drive, the best two options for affordability and functionality would be the 256GB SSD or the 512GB SSD, however, if you are in dire need of space, the 1TB SSD is sure to provide plenty of space.

One of the most significant performance features that the Toughbooks provide for mariners is their daylight readable screens. With the appropriate unit, you can have a bright screen that offers complete daylight readability, allowing you to see clearly even in direct sunlight.

Open CRM Marine GPS Chartplotter

Open CRM is a free software option when it comes to GPS software for mariners. The best thing about it is that it was developed for boaters, by boaters. Open CRM is open-sourced, and it is updated regularly. It also has real-world testing.

It comes with a seemingly endless list of features. These features include standard S57 chart support, encrypted S63 chart support, AIS input for full target tracking and collision alerting, route planning with tidal backing, 20+ languages supported, waypoint navigation, autopilot support, a built-in user manual for offline usability, and more. You can view all the specs on their "About" page here.

You have to get the charts separately from the sources that they list, which are all free to use. Here is the list of chart providers that Open CRM provides.

Open CRM has a quick-start guide to help get it installed, too.

Olex Marine Navigation Software

Olex is a notable marine mapping system created in Trondheim, Norway, by Olex AS. This software is perfect for fishing, aquaculture, ports, and underwater piping. It makes use of GPS and sonar to collect data that is continuously calculated and combined with previously collected data. The results of all this data are showcased live on a realistic 3D seafloor map. Olex is also capable of providing navigational directions while calculating all of the data that is being collected.

OLEX: The Full Version

Olex is a premium software and has a starting price of $4,125. Olex creates a map of the sea floor using GPS and an echosounder. It automatically uses the echosounder to improve the map after every new measured depth. The map displayed allows you to choose a 2D layout with contour lines or a 3D view with a virtual camera that will allow you to see the ocean floor based on the information that your equipment provides the application.

The software uses digital electronic vectorized charts that require a computer with a lot of processing power. With the right Panasonic Toughbook, processing power will be the least of your concerns.

The system records depth and positioning simultaneously. Then it feeds that information into a database that divides the data into squares with a default resolution of 5x5. You can go in later and change this to any resolution you like, although a recalculation is necessary to display the information correctly.


Lino is the light version of Olex designed for optimal use and simple operation; it costs slightly less than the full version of Olex, pricing at $2,063. This software would be perfect for leisure boats, freight ships, passenger vessels, and smaller fishing vessels. It is often used as a backup on ships with Olex. It has a fast, simple operation while providing a clear display. It can use charts in S63 and S57 formats, which are from official and commercial chart vendors.

We only listed 2 of the 15 different software options here. You can find the entire list of versions here.

Marine GPS on a Boat


If you work on the water or spend a decent amount of free time in a boat, investing in a Panasonic Toughbook or Toughpad with some Marine navigation software is highly advisable.

If you need help choosing the right rugged computer for your particular needs, use our selection assistance tool. Once you complete it, one of our Toughbook experts will give you the best options.

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