While others may complain about the 796 and its $2499 price tag I for one decided to upgrade from my 696. I too have an iPad with both Foreflight and Wing-X and while I love my iPad and all the flight planning I can do with it, simply put its too large for my single engine cockpit and thus I only use it to confirm information I can get from the 696. The other important fact to keep in mind is that for $2499 I get an amazing navigation device that just works, is able to receive all XM weather products and comes with an XM receiver. Please go and look to see how much it costs just to buy an XM receiver. To add weather to your iPad, you could get the ADS-B weather offered by Wing-X but it has incomplete coverage of the United States and offers only a small subset of the weather products that XM does. How about XM for the iPad? Yes you can go by the Baron's Mobile but with the required XM weather receiver that bundle will set you back $1200 and you will still need the monthly subscription. Not to mention there isn't a single iPad app that has actually implemented XM weather.
Again I agree the iPad is an amazing device that I always bring with me as a backup to my garmin. But Garmin has had time to perfect their navigation devices and software, I don't need an extra GPS dongle to get 5Hz GPS, I get digitized Maps rather than just raster scanned maps that aren't always the best and most importantly I get reliable weather in the cockpit. I choose to go the portable route because I can easily upgrade and the cost of panel mounts with installation is obscene. If the people behind Foreflight and WingX can get the iPad to perform like my Garmin than I would sell the Garmin in a heartbeat, but so far their applications are still way behind what garmin has to offer.
Do I think the '796' is really cool? Sure. Is the little "airplane in the window" synthetic vision display a neat feature to have if you just flew into IMC inadvertently and need to do a 180 ASAP? Definitely. Would most people, most of the time, be better off by putting the cash in the bank for rainy day? Absolutely. Would I rather spend the $2500 on, say, a mode S transponder or a newer Nav/Com or some other instrument/radio/bell and whistle if i owned a plane? Probably. Do these expensive portables makes our' flight bags an even more attractive target for thieves who hang around airports and pilots' lounges? Absolutely. Ladies and gentlemen, we are now officially in the era of the $3000+ flight bag, which is way easier to rip off than a used car.
By the way, how did any of us get from A to B before stuff like the Garmin Aero 796 existed? Even nowadays good pilotage plus a compass and a stopwatch will get you from A to B with reasonable accuracy.
While technology is great, there are always unintended issues with them that aren't apparent at first. The emergence of Garmin as the choice for aircraft avionics has weakened long standing avionics manufacturers like King, Bendix and Collins to the point that they had to merge to survive. The result: reducing competition in the avionics business. And the G-1000 was, IMHO, too complex, difficult to find certain pages and an expensive learning curve.
On the other hand, with continuous new developments in technology you get game changers like when GNS series of NAV?COM?GPS caught on in the late 1990s and when the G-1000 caught arrived in 2002/2003. But with continuous new development we also get shorter product "lives", what with the next big improvement always just around the corner. If you are the guy who bought a Wichita span can in 2007, don't you wish you waited until synthetic vision and the G-2000 system came out before signing that big cheque? This is different than it was during the period I flew from 1970-95, when the only real changes to our planes were better ELTs, switching to flip/flop NAVCOMs like KX-155s and upgrading our transponders to mode C from mode A.
Call me a dinosaur but I never really got what was so great about some aspects of the G-1000. While I liked the fully integrated systems that G-1000 offered, I never found the mega attitude indicator or vertical strips for ASI and Alt/VSI particularly compelling. And doing common tasks which IFR and VFR pilots do repeatedly, like that slewing feature for entering waypoints in G-1000 and GNS 530/430, looked like it was designed by some guy who never had to enter or amend a flight plan while bouncing around in turbulence. Fortunately the newer architecture in the G-2000/3--, GTN 750/650 and this new Garmin796 looks much easier to learn and operate. Given the new G-2000, the GTN 750/650 and this new Garmin portable, the guy who bought his G-1000/G-530-equipped Cessna must think his plane's avionics have already sunk to "second generation status" in just four years!
And why is it so hard to bring an inexpensive flight deck to the market, anyway? The G-1000 is, after all, just a couple of over-priced flat panels, plus overpriced software plus a couple of overpriced hardware modules plus wires, sensors etc.
When are we going to get past this proprietary model for things involving technology in aviation? If the G-1000's software had been designed to be open source from the get-go, a great many talented software writers and hardware developers might have already advanced the digital flight deck to the point where we have two-way data link with ATC instead of two-way radio. We could be working towards eliminating repeated radio calls to ATC for normal activities like station passages, mandatory reporting points, transitioning from enroute to a STAR and even final approaches and just pressing a key or two instead. Each aircraft could have its own, dedicated transponder code, for use in all situations in all classes of airspace. We'd no longer have to switch frequencies to talk or squawk while focused on flying safely in high collision hazard areas, close to airports. The radio frequency could be left for more important things like announcing emergency situations. While we'd miss that radio chatter, especially prior to entering busy airspace, we'd have a quieter cockpit. TCAS plus inputs from ATC could help us avoid conflicts with other aircraft. Even takeoff and landing clearances could be accomplishes without two-way radio.
There is so much more we could do with computers and flat panels flight decks. Right now the compelling area for more research and development seems to be finding more band width for uploading data to the aircraft. When we see real improvement in that area we'll be on the verge of the next "great improvement" in how we navigate and operate light airplanes.
Surrey, British Columbia
Being somewhat new in to the world of flying, I can already see the two schools. Old and new. Technology for aviation is indeed a God sent. With the latest in avionics and flight control systems,flying to me has taken one of greatest leaps in development.
For me principles are the keys to the bonds of good foundations. This new product by Garmin is an excellent performer. From my skimreading of the artical I can see this device does a great job for navigation.
I am also quite sure that there are many veteran polits who are little mystify by this unit being portable. Be it the yoke, the joy stick or the throttle control there is little else my hands would want to be grabing on to. I am going to stick to what is built into the plane. I for one do not see the need for any portable devices in the cockpit.
The Garmin devise would be great as back up unit. Again for me I prefer all instrutmentation in front of me on the panel. Of course there's the excellent performance of "heads up" display. Now thats something that can really go places!