This PDA-based, touch screen pilot’s GPS has entered the market prematurely, in my opinion. Included with the paperwork was a sheet of known “bugs” or problems with the unit; that was the first sign of problems. Although this list is also posted on the company website, the average person will need the honed skills of an archeologist to find it! I returned the unit and its accessories for a full refund after the software crashed multiple times, during the first flight. While getting Microsoft Windows-bordered error messages on your PC at work or home might be acceptable, they are totally unacceptable in flight and are completely useless when displayed using the smallest font known to man!
The makers of this so-called flight-worthy GPS unit at least had the foresight to include a small push-button which eventually reset the unit; yes, the failure was persistent through a power cycle! And there were other issues, like not being able to set the display to “North Up”. Now, who in his right mind reverses the chart when flying southward?
Automatic zoom never worked, as stated in the handout. The recourse I was given when I called for an RMA number was to “..just download updated software from our website, maybe that will fix the problem!” Please note I received the refund to my credit card after multiple phone calls and multiple emails, more than 2 months later. And, I don’t have time to download software because the vendor is unable and/or unwilling to adequately test their product beforehand, costing me shipment both ways and telephone calls.
Shortly thereafter, Honeywell introduced their AV8OR version of a similar GPS unit but my interest in touch-screen units had waned because of this experience and simply because, while they might be OK for an automobile, a pilot needs a “true, tactile” feel to the buttons while tending to other tasks, without having to look at the unit, in my opinion, which is the case with touch-screens.
Soured by this experience, I opted for the Garmin 496, at a much higher cost. Having used the Garmin Pilot III for 11 years, I found the user interfaces are almost identical which meant I could used the 496 immediately and without software crashes! I contacted Flying Magazine and AOPA Pilot’s advertising departments to just advise them of my experience. While Flying Magazine was very concerned about my plight and promised to look into it, before they accepted additional requests for advertising space from Control Vision, AOPA sent me a rather terse, lawyer-like response that in summary said AOPA could take no action; Oh really? So, it’s OK to continue to advertise faulty products in your magazine? AOPA members please take note and a “big” grain of salt next time you read about product reviews in AOPA Pilot. Sorry, Honeywell-Bendix-King, Control Vision has poisoned the well as far as PDA GPS units are concerned.
Submitted by Theodor Stathis