If you are in the market for a GPS your options are a handheld unit or the bigger electronic Flight Bag (EFB) units. The EFB units although very nice are roughly $800-$1000 more than the handheld unit and it is hard to justify that price if you can use an iPad or other tablet which can perform the same function’s for a lot less.
Almost all aircraft have an integrated GPS unit but I still need to meet the pilot who has not had a GPS fail on him so to have a backup GPS in your bag can be worth its weight in gold if you become “orientation challenged” in a remote area or busy CTA.
When Bendix/King released the AV8OR
it was met with a lot of enthusiasm. It is a highly capable unit and certainly worth considering.
It is a touch screen unit and its dimensions are similar to all the models in its class. Its got two modes, Go Fly and Go Drive so you can use it in your car on the way to the airport and mount it in your plane once you get there.
Apart from all the usual functions it also has a weight and balance calculator and a height profile relative to your altitude, which is quite nice.
It is also capable to install checklists and you can mark it off as you run through it. Its got an SD card slot in the back which is also for media playback and is Bluetooth capable so you can play a movie on it if you want.
If you use it in the USA and you purchase the extra antenna and by a subscription you can have real-time weather overlay and also traffic information on your display. The Av8or can also show IFR plates with your real-time position on them.
The only negative I can say is its short battery life, it uses a Nokia phone battery which is a bit underpowered for its screen. Bendix/King sells a bigger battery but you will also need a different cover for the back to fit the bigger size or just get another phone battery and rotated them. You can of course plug it in you 12v socket if you have one.
The AV8OR is a very good and capable unit for a modest price and considering all its functions its hard to recommend any other unit.
Garmin Area 500
Garmin is known for its high quality GPS and you have a couple of different options in this series, depending what you are after and what you want to spend. They also have a drive mode and is the standard dimensions.
The Garmin Area 500
has got all the standard functions and an easy interface. I found that the charts it is using is better than the av8or, but a deal breaker for me was that you can only have 4 data fields on your main display which means for me I am always short of one bit of information.
The battery life is better than the Av8or and comes with a 12v power cord.