Plane & Pilot
Tuesday, December 1, 2009


With its touch-screen interface and loads of new features, the AV8OR Ace is a winner

Real-time XM weather can be overlaid on the moving map
We’ve reached the point in aviation GPS technology where we’re no longer comparing “bad” units to “good” ones. Instead, we examine a unit’s overall look and feel (i.e., its quirks, nuances and exclusive features) to see if it fits our specific needs—the quality of the unit is a given. We’re in a time of great technological luxury, and we enjoy a situational awareness that even military and airline pilots lacked a decade ago. Furthermore, almost unbelievably, all of this data fits into a little box the size of your hand.

The AV8OR Ace is the latest in the Bendix/King line of portable navigators that started with the popular AV8OR. Bendix/King is calling the AV8OR Ace a multifunction display (MFD), and with all the sophisticated features loaded into this unit, it’s an apt designation. It has kept the best aspects of the AV8OR, including its most unique feature: the touch screen.

Because the touch screen is such an important part of the AV8OR Ace, it deserves some examination. First, it should be called a “tap screen” because that more correctly describes the best way to operate it. Though the screen registers finger touches, it’s far more accurate when lightly tapped. Of course, the touch-screen interface isn’t for everybody, but once you get accustomed to it, you’ll never go back to what seem like archaic inner and outer knobs. Tapping is an intuitive, easy interface, and—judging by offerings from other manufacturers—the way of the future in avionics.

A key difference between the AV8OR and the AV8OR Ace is the exquisite seven-inch, sunlight-readable display. The multimedia-capable AV8OR Ace allows movies and photos to be viewed on its clear, bright screen, and audio (including MP3s) will play through the unit’s built-in speaker. Earphones come standard. Among AV8OR Ace’s new features are geo-referenced charts, including airport/taxiway diagrams, high and low IFR en route charts and approach plates. These aren’t reproductions (as on other units) but actual FAA publications. It’s easy to switch between navigation and chart mode by tapping a button. The unit also can be used as an “eBook” reader, accepting both .txt and .pdf format books.

Navigation mode continues to be a strength of the AV8OR Ace. It introduces “Smart Profile,” which offers a forward look at terrain, obstacles and special-use airspace. It’s a profile view (vertically) from the aircraft, so you can see—and plan—where you’re going in relation to landforms and airspace. The display appears at the bottom of the map when it’s in portrait (vertical) mode, and can be turned on or off. Incidentally, the AV8OR Ace can be switched from portrait to landscape mode (like the iPhone) with a single tap. The increased situational awareness of Smart Profile is a huge boon in complex airspace, such as that of Southern California.


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