December 2008 Issue

Letters: 12/08

I am a subscriber to Aviation Consumer and ravenously enjoy each issue. I am sure that the Garmin GPSmap696 will receive unmitigated praise, as it probably deserves. I am an owner of a 496 and think it is an excellent product. The 696 seems exponentially better. However, in all the reviews of GPS I have seen, scant attention is paid to the ongoing cost of keeping the databases up to date. The 496 has several different databases—terrain, AOPA data, navigation/Jeppesen and so on. I believe that if a user were to get every update, it would easily cost more than $1000 a year. More alarming is the caveat in the 696 sales literature that if the IFR plates are not kept up to date (every 28 days, I think), they become inaccessible. Putting aside the questionable legality of this marketing approach (no one takes away my printed approach plates when they are outdated), I urge you to explore this issue from a pure cost perspective. It’s probably inaccurate to say that the 696 has approach plates—it’s more truthful to say that it has the ability to display approach plates if one were to incur an ongoing expense of several hundreds of dollars annually.

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