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Recent reviews for this item:
Dave, November 14, 2010 Replaced GPSMaps 296 with an Aera500
Overall the functionality is a significant improvement. The
interface is dramatically improved, allowing much easier
Physical design suffers in two important respects.
First, in order to connect the PC-Garmin USB or the AC
power-USB you have to remove the battery door.
The mounting bracket has a USB plug, but the device displays
'USB on wrong port' every-time I have tried to use it.
Putting the USB behind the waterproof battery door seems to
come from a waterproofing effort. The battery door has an
o-ring which makes it hard to open. However, why the USB on
the mounting bracket is only partially functional is
bizarre. Either make it useful & functional (AC power & PC
connect) or remove it.
Second, battery life. The small 1800 mAH lithium-ion battery
doesn't carry the unit far (about 2 hours with the display
set so I can read it in the cockpit with sunglasses).
Understand fully the challenge with display life, device
size & battery size. The trade-off seems reasonable. With
in-plane 12V (cigarette adapter), this isn't an issue.
However, not every plane I fly has functional 12V at the panel.
A spare battery & charging kit is available, but in-flight
replacement is impractical - small mounting bracket & hard
to remove battery door are small parts that would want to be
on the cockpit floor. I have trouble with the battery door
on the ground.
Third, the terrain resolution on the Aera 500 is lower than
the GPSMaps 296, don't notice it in the flats, but I fly in
the Rockies. Resolution seems to be a marketing/product
placement choice and 100% more for the Aera 550's 9 arc
second was not happening. (Flying in Canada the Safetaxi &
AOPA database were not useful and 1 year Jeppsen doesn't
push the math over the edge)
In net - I'm very happy. The interface is far more usable in
the air. The non-functional USB is odd and a decided
negative, and the battery life manageable if you go in with
your eyes open.