Garmins 696 Trainer: Simple and Effective

The GPSMAP 696 is fairly user-friendly without cracking a book, but it takes some reading or training to get the most out of the box.

There’s a saying that good design obviates the need for training. Thats been generally true of the Garmin portables and is basically true for the supersized GPSMAP 696. The added capability does increase complexity, and a little training can go a long way toward getting the most out of your investment.

Garmin has put its hat into the training fray with the GPSMAP 696/965 eLearning Program. The product tis actually produced by the same company that developed

Garmin’s 696 Trainer

the successful Vflite training CD-ROMs for the GNS 430/530 units and that created the G1000 training currently sold by Jeppesen.

Just like those programs, this one walks you through the pages and functions of the unit with an animated mock-up of the GPS (complete with all button-pushes and knob-twists), written text and narration. The lessons are organized by the GPS pages and the phases of flight in which you would use them. However, when the program needs to show you an example from some other part of the country, it does so. You can skip ahead to any lesson you want, and you can turn off the narration and just skim the text if you want to zip through the lessons faster.

Like the Vflite trainers, there’s a training mode where you must accomplish tasks by pushing buttons and turning knobs on the on-screen mockup of the 696. The text area to the left of the on-screen 696 tells you what to do for each step. There’s also a solo mode where you do the same tasks, but without the prompts. Call it a quiz. The solo mode is not a simulator, but the GPSMAP 696 itself has a great simulation system built in and the eLearning shows you how to use it.

Garmin’s 696 Trainer

The program is good for showing items you might not find on your own, such as how to use an aircraft profile to save time. This is especially true in the quick tips section. Its also good for explaining the details of how the system works, such as why a short stop might start a new flight log as expected (you have to land for more than 10 minutes).

The training covers all the key items, although, in our opinion, it goes overboard in explaining in some situations But, like we said, its easy to skip ahead.

The CD-ROM is $99.95 from Garmin. Pricing for the online version has yet to be determined.