January 2009 Issue

How Garmin’s 696 Can Save Your Bacon

The new boxís large size means it can display more features simultaneously. The improved user interface and IFR charting mean itís really an EFB with GPS.

We have a love-hate relationship with cockpit gadgets. On one hand, weíre strongly in favor of anything that simplifies aviating, navigating and communicating. On the other hand, weíve too often seen people get caught up trying to make the gadget work while ignoring the airplane. In the end, we (and our wallets) always have yearned for some kind of inexpensive all-in-one magic box to simplify cockpit chores. Garminís latest GPS portable, the GPSMAP 696, comes about as close as weíve seen. Itís not perfect, itís definitely not cheap and it occupies a lot of space in what might be cramped quarters, but the sheer volume of features and the ease with which they can be accessed pretty much demand anyone shopping for a portable GPS navigator take a close look at the 696. Moreover, having one of these in the cockpit might save what otherwise could be a very bad day. Letís look at what those safety features are and how they work.

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