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Best GPS?


lwalling
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I'm GPS shopping.

 

What is everyone's favorite choice? The Garmin 496 seems to be the most popular, but what are the advantages of the 496 over an AvMap unit or something similar?

 

I would like to be able to depend on a GPS for navigation and good reference data, thats one thing where the 496 accels I believe, frequencies, etc.

 

Thanks for your thoughts and opinions.

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The 496 is the latest and greatest, but if you go online to Garmin and spec compare the 296, 396 and 496, the 396 adds the weather and the 496 adds the terrain avoidance alert feature. And the price goes up by $500 for each from $1200 for the 296 to $2400 for the 496. I have to say, the color feature (up from B&W on the 196) is really a relief. Drivers I know flying contracts up north prefer the Garmin, I know one who's got the 196 and two with 296s, both purchased last summer for work. My father is a landlubber GPSer and he likes Magellan. All depends on what you really want it for...have fun!

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The 396 has terrain avoidance. I don't think the 496 is worth the extra money, but I'm not paying, either. My company provides the 396, and it's a great unit. It has weather through XM radio subscription, showing a composite radar display on the map if you want, plus giving you access to all METARs. It has the frequency and runway information also. It's pretty much everything you need. I used a Trimble 2101+ for years flying IFR, and it was difficult to get basic information out of it. The Garmin is far more capable for far less money.

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The Garmin 496 with XM weather is the way to go for sure. It does everything. The Ram Mount works great with it. The XM is perfect for checking weather when you are in the desert or mountains with no cell or internet service. You can also change to automotive mode and use it in the car. The price has come down but it is still expensive. I'd hate to leave home without it.

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I got a Garmin 195 on ebay. They're there for just over $100 today. The 195 is the predecessor of the 196, 296, 396, and 496. The menus are almost the same as the successors. I like the screen cause it is an LCD with four shades of gray and it is bigger than any of the x96 series. Also the screen is oriented vertically, which seems more intuitive to me than a screen that is square, or wider than it is tall, if the map tracking is oriented to the aircraft's tracking. I personally don't care about color, I like easy to read. Also, friend borrowed my 195, it fell out of what he was carrying it in, then he ran over it with his car over it by accident. The 195 case is very tough... It still works great (so we're still friends, not that I'm unforgiving). I doubt the 196, 296, 396, or 496 would have survived. Doesn't have weather and radio, but most everything else, and hey - only ~$100!!

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I'm also GPS shoppin', for a panel mount unit tho, & to replace my old King dual comm, & fit in its hole in the panel. GNS 430 is the only way to go, too bad i cant find one for 100 buckaroos like the trusty 195 in previous post ! I've seen a few used one for around 7 thousand :o

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I've used all three (296,396,496) and would advise on the 296. The 396 and 496 have extra features like terrain and weather but 99% of the time you probably won't use them unless your flying a cessna. If you have the extra money get the 496 but I personally think that the 296 is just as good. You can pick up a 296 new for around $1400 but you can also find them refurbished for around $800.

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I learned to fly in the pre-GPS days when you had to rely on pilotage and dead reckoning. I remember it not being any fun as a student pilot on my first solo cross-country. Now I'm pretty darn good with pilotage and DR, and it's a whole lot more fun, but only because the GPS is already on to validate my whereabouts. Kid student pilots today have no idea how fortunate they are...

 

Most of the R22s I've flow had panel mounted 430s but I always keep fresh batteries in my handheld Garmin GPS Pilot III. I bought it new for around $500 when they first came out. I've heard they sell on ebay now for under $100. It's dirt cheap, has different displays to tell you your current location (zoomable), groundspeed, time remaining to get to your destination based on your groundspeed, heading you need to be on to get to your destination, it will tell you if you're off course (and how far off course), runways, ATIS, CTAF, tower and approach frequencies at airports.

 

I"m not flying helicopters much anymore these days, mostly planes, so I may upgrade to the 496. If so, I'll pass along my Pilot III to one of the kids just now starting training, free of charge of course. I'll let you know when I do. First to ask is the one I'll send it to.

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I remember well flying across the GOM with a watch and a compass. The map wasn't much use, but we had to have one. Blue is blue. Flying 100NM across nothing but water, and Cancun being the next place to land if you missed the platform was wonderful for concentrating the mind on maintaining a heading, reading the wind from the water, and making appropriate heading corrections. Finally along came LORAN, which worked, more or less, until thunderstorms came along (every day pretty much) and then it went south, because lightning overpowers the low-frequency signal. GPS, when it finally arrived, was an anti-climax. By then I didn't need it for VFR flying, but it is very nice to have for IFR instrument approaches to platforms with 200'/.75mi weather. The XM weather on the 396/496 is very nice. When you're trying to get home at 4AM, seeing patches of fog here and there, and you're wondering if you're going to be able to get there, it's nice to be able to pull up the latest observations around and see what's happening, in real time. The radar overlay is ok, but it exaggerates the rainfall, IME. I've seen it showing solid yellow with at least 30 miles visibility.

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