February 1, 2012
The first question to ask yourself when looking at a dedicated GPS unit at a price point of anywhere more than about $600 is, why? With Apple’s iPad offering so much aviation utility, it would seem that many higher-end GPS devices have lost their relevancy. The reality seems to be otherwise, with robust sales reports coming from multiple places. And after testing Control Vision’s Anywhere Map Septa, I can see why.
The Septa features a 7-inch screen, weighs in at 19.2 ounces, and has a resolution that matches that of the competition. Power the unit on and you’ll discover various operating modes for flying and driving. When the Anywhere Map software is selected, the base map pops up and gives the options that we’ve come to know and expect from a high-end GPS. The map’s strong points include sectionals, IFR charts, base maps, and rubberband flight planning. There are some nice additional features, such as glide radius rings, a nice night display, VNAV computing, fuel prices, and on-screen flight plan and tracking data. Weather and TFRs can be downloaded via WiFi, or continuously with an XM antenna and subscription.
Price:$1,495, but sales come often
Everything except for power and brightness is controlled with the touch screen. The buttons are sufficiently large and easy to operate, and the processor keeps things moving along at a respectable pace.
There are only two head-scratching features to the unit. One is Pocket Plates, Control Vision’s answer to airport diagrams, approach plates, arrivals, and departures. Access to these is branded separately because it feels as if you move to a different piece of software to view them. A button in the menu takes you from one mode to the next, but once there, you are basically stuck unless you abort your way out with said button. A more seamless integration would allow for a better experience. The other drawback is flight planning. If you only ever fly Direct To, then it works great. But if you want the unit to compute a route via airway or anything else, forget it. You’ll have to go Direct To, and then either manually enter the waypoints via identifier or rubberband them in via the map.
Even though the menu system is logically designed, and using it is so easy you don’t even need the manual, perhaps the unit’s strongest point is how it mounts in the cockpit. A big device such as this requires a good mount, and Control Vision has an answer for most any situation. A quick pop-in harness grabs the unit, cools it with an integrated fan, attaches it to a ball joint that can be mounted to a yoke, and charges it with a cigarette plug. It’s the cleanest setup I’ve seen from a unit.
Price: $1,445 Contact: www.hamiltonwatch.com
The new Khaki Flight Timer from American watch maker Hamilton is part timepiece, part logbook. Fantastic craftsmanship, beautiful style, and numerous functions define the watch. It features a quartz movement, sapphire crystal face, and a leather band. The digital display can be used as a timer and a logbook for up to 20 flights.
As a pilot you are no doubt also someone who looks up every time you see an airplane. With WolframAlpha you can now know the exact position, altitude, flight path, type, and registration information of that airplane. WolframAlpha is actually a powerful access to everything from star charts to sports facts, so chances are you’ll play with it for much more than airplanes. When you download it, simply type in “flights overhead” and you’ll see the list. And if you want to save the money, the website has the same information, albeit not as well optimized.
Price: $2.99 Contact: www.wolframalpha.com
If you have a new Garmin GTN750 and an iPad, help is on the way. Garmin recently introduced a training app aimed at helping GTN750 users better understand and learn the system. According to Garmin, the app replicates the experience of the panel-mounted unit, making better transfer of learning possible. Given that both the iPad and the unit are touch screen, the company says it’s a seamless experience.
Price: $24.99 Contact: www.garmin.com; Apple App Store
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