March 2009 Issue
AvMap GeoPilot I +: Solid Design, Fair Price
Itís got XM Weather, a sharp display and a great feature set for the moving map. But itís missing emergency instruments and has too many wires.
The Italian Multinational GPS maker AvMap has enjoyed some popularity over the past 14 years with products known for rugged designs and large, brilliant screens. When we first reviewed the color EKP-III series in 2004 we found it to be a durable workhorse that earned its place in tactical airborne law enforcement applications and was equally at home as an electronic knee pad navigator in civilian cockpits. While the product line evolved since then, AvMap lacked satellite weather until now. We selected the $1199 GeoPilot II Plus for this review because itís the latest offering from AvMap and we wanted a look at its weather, but other products in the AvMap line, including the EKP-IV-series can now play with the popular and proven WXWorx XM receiver (with a required software patch). The WxWorx Receiver Package represents a $599 option that includes the receiver, a serial data module, power cable and XM antenna. But WX or not, we think the GeoPilot II Plus excels in many areas and might be overlooked by the masses of qualified buyers. The 13-oz GeoPilot II Plus measures 5.5 x 3.9 x 1.4 inches and uses an integral, 20-channel Sirf Star III WAAS GPS receiver. Lock-on is fast and solid, even using the built-in antenna although an optional remote antenna is available. In our testing, this receiver locked on more quickly than we were ready to roll and never lost the lock. The five-inch diagonal screen is crisp, but an auto-brightness feature that constantly fine-tunes the display intensity we found annoying at times. Our fingers searched for a dedicated brightness key, but it just isnít there. Pressing the Near button for one second accesses a manual adjustment. Thereís also a night mode, for night-vision comfort. A sturdy suction mount comes with the navigator. While mounting to the windscreen works, it partially blocks the view outside. We wish the unit came with a yoke mount as standard equipment. There is an optional rail mount, a pod mount as well as other aftermarket mounts, available from RAM. Air Gizmos makes a docking station and a dedicated bracket to house the WxWorx receiver.
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