There were products that came before it, but the Appareo Stratus was one of a couple of portable ADS-B receivers that set a new standard for the marketplace as an affordable, compact, reliable and high-performance model that integrated with a particular app (in the case of Stratus, ForeFlight) to give users excellent access to the weather data that ADS-B provides.
Introduced just over a year ago, Stratus is a great product. In fact, we not only raved about it when it was launched, we also later gave a Flying Editors’ Choice award to the team that developed it: Appareo, ForeFlight and Sporty’s.
As much as we loved the original, however, Stratus 2 is a far better product; it addresses nearly every shortcoming of the first version and keeps pace with or surpasses its rivals.
Unlike the first Stratus, Stratus 2 has traffic, something that Sporty’s, the exclusive marketer for the unit, initially said was not a desirable feature in a portable ADS-B box. We tend to agree with that position, as ADS-B traffic is spotty at best. Customers clearly want traffic, however, and several of Stratus’ competitors, including Garmin, with its GDL-39, have traffic, so Stratus 2 has it too. Not only that, but with the new edition of ForeFlight, the original version of Stratus now has traffic as well. It had always received the data from the FAA feed; now ForeFlight does something with that data.
Stratus 2 does a lot more, because it is a dual-band receiver, meaning it gets data from both bands (978 and 1090) of the U.S. ADS-B ground-based constellation, so you see more traffic and at all altitudes.
There is an additional feature that we were initially lukewarm about but have since come to appreciate: attitude. While the thought of using an iPad as a primary attitude instrument really terrifies us, the idea of relying on it as an emergency backup makes a lot of sense. A companion app from Appareo does a great job of displaying the equivalent of a flat-panel attitude indicator on the iPad (or iPhone) display, so you can keep ForeFlight open and have attitude handy.
In addition to attitude, you get GPS altitude and groundspeed, vertical speed, track and even excessive nose-up or nose-down attitude warnings, communicated via red chevrons pointing you back in the right direction.
You mount the Stratus in the black plastic cradle (which is included with the purchase of the unit), so it doesn’t move around on you; this keeps your attitude in line. There’s an external antenna, though in the Cirrus I don’t need it at all. I get excellent reception with the built-in antenna. Style-wise, the Stratus 2 is sleek, cool-looking and very simple to use. Once you make connections via Wi-Fi, ForeFlight takes over and imports all the weather and traffic data from the ADS-B stream and — this is the best part — integrates it seamlessly into the app. Anywhere that weather or traffic data could be beneficial, Stratus 2 is there.
With many purchases in life, what you buy is predicated on what you already own, or simply what you already like. Here it’s no different. For users of ForeFlight, the Stratus brand is the only game in town. That is, it’s the only supported ADS-B sensor. The good news is, Stratus 2 is as good as it gets, and it is competitively priced to boot. Win, win, win.
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