Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Portable aviation information manager
The FX10 is about an inch longer than a typical Jeppesen chart binder, but at less than an inch thick and just over a pound, it sat comfortably on my lap and stowed easily in a seat-back pocket. The only downside: You can’t remove a particular approach plate and clip it on your yoke. SolidFX should provide a Velcro leg strap to keep the unit secure.
The FX10 is not a full-function EFB. It offers no flight planning, Internet access, weather or GPS moving-map functions. It can read documents other than charts, and it has some note-taking capability.
I had two glitches with the test unit. The first was a problem with the license for the Jeppesen content, which SolidFX solved by shipping me a new data card. With a regular subscription, I could have simply reloaded the data. The second problem came when I accidentally left the unit on overnight, flattening the battery. A full recharge takes five hours; a hardware reset was required before the unit would work properly.
Aside from that, battery life was outstanding. I ran the unit intermittently for over a week on one charge—including leaving it on for over three hours—and barely dropped battery capacity by half. After recharging, I deliberately left it on for an extended period: It lost about 17% in two hours. I’m confident it could be run continuously for an eight-hour day if fully charged.
The FX10 sells for $1,595, plus an electronic chart subscription for the area of your choice. Several coverage options are available: 48-state coverage costs $700 yearly; worldwide coverage costs $9,860. Single-issue “trip kit” coverage also is available (Mexico is just $20). Some prices represent substantial discounts in comparison with traditional Jeppesen paper-chart subscriptions ($1,167 for a standard U.S. subscription, for example). Users may find that the FX10 soon pays for itself. Visit www.solidfx.com.
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