Avionics Report

December 2008 Issue

Garmin GPSmap 696: Big Screen, Easy Logic

Garminís first large-screen GPS navigator has all of the 496ís features, plus a chart and plate library. For a princely price, itís a step up in ease of use and utility.

The new definition of the word futile is to ask if the world is really ready for a $3295 portable aviation GPS. Itís futile to ask because Garmin will find no shortage of buyers for the new GPSmap 696 it introduced in early November. In addition to being a first-rate engineering company, Garmin also understands how customers are willing to spend their money, thus theyíve put just enough gotta-have-it features into the 696 to make sure great droves of them will. Still, the 696 is a curious productódefinitely fowl, but with vestiges of fins to suggest fish, too. In other words, itís nearly the size of an electronic flight bag, but it definitely isnít one, even though it has some EFB capability. Buyers who might otherwise consider an EFB will want to consider the 696 before buying. Impatient buyers whoíd caught whiff of the next big thing from Garmin and bought GPSmap 496s because they couldnít wait can only sigh and think about an early trade-in. Herewith is our analysis of whether a trade is worth it.

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