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Hello New Aera! ...So Long, GPS MAP 496

Garmin is a company that, like its contemporaries in the computer or smart phone industries, does not sit still for long. Innovations and upgrades happen swiftly.

Over the years, Garmin has become a staple of Light- Sport Aircraft. Stick your head inside the cockpit of virtually any SLSA and you’ll probably see a Garmin 296, 396, 496, or 495. The handheld gizmos are  ubiquitous, often nestled securely in their panel-mounted Air Gizmo dock.

However, the great run of the X96 series is flying off into the sunset.

The LSA industry’s main man at Garmin, Tim Casey, sent the following as his answer to my inquiry about plans to discontinue the GPSMAP 495/5. Tim’s reply shows how our modern age of email, Internet, and mobile devices has hastened communications.

He wrote, “I Googled ‘GPSMAP 495/496 discontinued’ and sure enough, before the ink is dry on our Marketing Memo it is public information.” Tim continued, “We have been letting our LSA partners know about the eventual demise of the 495/496 for some time... giving them time to redesign for the 695/696 or aera series, which many have done or are now in the process of changing. We made it official in a marketing memo sent yesterday. At present rate of sales we could have stock until early 2011. However, when [a notice of discontinuation] becomes official, sales almost always accelerate. We also could be out of stock by year’s end depending upon market reaction.”

For many who have become intimate with the GPSMAP series, this means you need to learn some new input methods.

Certainly the aera product has a different user interface. I happen to prefer it, but many readers know the 496 so well they may have to get out aera’s manual.

Many LSA providers are already installing the larger screen 696, but I think plenty will adapt to the aero that economizes panel space and has a simple touch screen interface.

Aera also works as an auto GPS unit and in fact I’ve used mine that way frequently, even tapping its Bluetooth link to place hands-free phone calls via my iPhone.

October 2010 Light Aviation Edition

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