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Aviation Garmin 396 GPS Reviews


Avweb has posted an interview with Aviation Consumer’s editor regarding his impressions of the Garmin 396 GPS.

Over the course of the three days we tried the 396, there were thunderstorms every day in Florida. We used it to deviate around the weather areas or to fly through areas of light-green rain. We found that if an 8- to 12-mile scale is used, there’s enough room on the screen to easily navigate around weather areas. Sometimes you can’t see the entire weather area at these scales, but you can certainly see the clear areas suitable for deviation.

Stuart McCurdy has also posted his thoughts on the new GPS.

As I paralleled the weather, the red, yellow , and green areas on the screen were the same as I was seeing out the window. The greens were light enough rain that I would have gone through if I needed to, whereas the red and yellow had heavy rain falling out of them. Storm Cells showed the movement. An ocassional lightning bolt was soon registered on the screen. By going around the East side I had a tailwind as shown on the Winds Aloft, whereas the West side would have been a headwind. What I saw on the winds aloft screen was duplicated by my GPS groundspeed. By now I know I have made a GOOD investment. Also, the Airmets and Sigmets were displayed by colored dashed lines, and by running the cusor to the lines and getting a readout, I did not have to try to picture what Flight Watch might have been trying to tell me.

Aviation Consumer also has an extensive Garmin GPS 396 Review you can download a PDF (PDF, 3.7MB) with a full review.

We try to restrain ourselves from gushing about products, but we’re thinking of making an exception for the 396. We have no reservations in recommending it without caveats. Although it’s expensive, in our view, it delivers impressive value for the buck. The 396 has essentially evolved into a pocket PFD/MFD with the same or more capability than entire suites of avionics costing 10 times as much. We have no doubt that this will take a short-term bite out of MFD sales.

But they didn’t spend the whole article gushing.

However, like the WxWorx portable XM setup before it, the 396 is best viewed as interim technology. Given the pace of display and datalink technology progress, we expect to see the next major class of products in about two years. Our guess is that these will be larger, thin and lightweight tablet-type products capable of weather, navigation and wireless access.

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