Avionics Report

May 2009 Issue

Flight Cheetah 210-S: Feature Rich, But Quirky

Excellent and unique components get mired down by an awkward interface and non-standard procedures. This unit has great potential thatís not quite realized.

While no single gadget is the perfect tool for everyone, some are well suited to the fat section of the bell curve while others will appeal to the fringes. True Flightís Flight Cheetahís 210-S portable GPS navigator falls squarely in the latter category. The system is really two components: the Flight Cheetah software, which can run on most any Windows-capable computer, and the 210-S hardware, which is a purpose-built box designed for the cockpit. The first thing you notice about the 210-S is that itís big. Itís roughly 8 x 5.5 x 2 inches and weighs 2.7 pounds without a backup battery. The screen is 6.5 inches, which is half an inch smaller than a Garmin 696, and there are several fat-finger buttons on the face for easy control in flight, even with gloves on. The hard drive is solid state, so it works at all altitudes. The next thing youíll notice are all the wires. The Cheetah connects to an external GPS and XM weather receiver (which has its own box and antenna). The optional backup battery is not built into the unit, so thatís another box. Add the optional external attitude gyro or Zaon traffic receiver, and you get even more boxes and wires. If you could leave all the accessory gear in the airplane, removing the 210-S and taking it home is a no-brainer. But we wouldnít want to deal with a 210-S if we were renting. True Flight experimented with Bluetooth, but felt the reliability wasnít good enough to count on.

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