By now, almost every pilot has had some experience with a portable GPS unit, and the AV8OR does everything that you’ve come to expect from these devices, and more. Bendix/King’s new MFD integrates GPS, navigation database, graphical terrain and XM weather into a single portable device. The affordable unit’s list price is $799, and the XM WxWorx weather receiver add-on is available for an additional $523 (though, through the end of 2009, the AV8OR includes a $200 rebate coupon for the receiver). The AV8OR has a beautiful, bright 4.3-inch diagonal display with 480x272-pixel resolution. The touch-screen interface is easy to use and provides excellent tap and double-tap access to information.
Once you get to know the AV8OR’s interface, it feels intuitive to use. Still, it’s worth taking the time to sit down and become familiar with it before zooming through complex airspace like that over the Los Angeles Basin. Included in the AV8OR’s package is a CD with a user’s manual detailing every operation.
The AV8OR is great in the air. The feature I like best, which differentiates it from other GPS units, is its virtual keyboard. You type in your selection instead of using a cursor to cycle through letters. Above the title bar, the SmartProfile display shows the vertical profile of the flight path along the route of flight. A cross section of the terrain for the flight is shown on the vertical profile, and a dashed line represents the altitude of the flight path. I fly across the Sierras and the Rockies on a regular basis, and this would be a great aid in managing these flights.
The moving map is easy to cycle through Topographical, No-Topographical and Relative Terrain views with a virtual button. The map’s data fields can be configured to suit your taste in information. Creating a set of stored routes and activating one of them is straightforward and, again, fast and convenient using the AV8OR’s virtual keyboard interface.
Nobody should have to fly around without access to weather information, and the AV8OR coupled with the XM WxWorx receiver provides everything you need. The large LCD screen gives a clear depiction of current weather, and the ability to pan the map display by touching and dragging across the screen is helpful.
Although the WxWorx receiver is large and requires DC power from the airplane, an optional Bluetooth interface to the AV8OR allows the box to be put out of the way. A mess of wires goes along with this system, but it provides you with essential weather information, including NEXRAD, Satellite Mosaic, graphical METARs/TAFs (and Canadian METARs/TAFs), severe Wx storm tracking, lightning, AIRMETs, SIGMETs and convective SIGMETs. Once the AV8OR is in weather mode, you tap the Choose Product virtual key and then select from the currently available data sets. I liked the graphical METAR map and appreciated the ability to double-tap the display and immediately access the detailed text.
You can also take the AV8OR driving. Some helpful features include different calculation methods for fastest, simplest, shortest and most economical routes; fly-over simulations of a route; SmartZoom, which zooms the display in when approaching a turn; multipoint routes; day and night display modes; 2-D and 3-D graphical representations of routes; and the ability to store and activate a list of favorite routes. Locations can be set by typing in an address, using a city center or using the current cursor point that you have selected by tapping on the touch screen. The AV8OR’s warning system will tell you when you’re exceeding the speed limit, a feature that comes in handy when driving through heavily patrolled residential neighborhoods. It also can alert you to locations with speed-enforcement cameras.
Entertainment features include photo, music and video capabilities. The resolution of the AV8OR screen makes photos and videos jump out at you, and the audio sounds excellent through headphones. All of the multimedia files are stored in a removable SD memory card, and a variety of data formats are supported: MP3 and Windows Media files for audio; Windows Media, AVI, MPG and ASF files for video.
The new AV8OR is a first-generation product, so it isn’t surprising that I’d like to see some enhancements over the next few releases. As it is now, changing a configuration option requires the user to leave the driving or flying mode. It would be great if all access to system setup was available at all times.
For flying, I’d like to be able to cycle through the graphical weather products like the moving map does, and to have a solution for the weather receiver that decreases the amount of wires and eliminates the need for a cigarette-lighter splitter box. When I’m looking at settings in the flying mode, I’d like to have a cancel and exit option—currently the only way to exit this mode is to save and exit, and I find myself worrying that I might have made an accidental configuration change.
For driving, the excellent speeding-warning system would be more valuable to me if I could configure it to give warnings relative to the speed limit; I might want it to tell me when I’m 5 mph over in the city and 9 mph over the limit on the highway.
All in all, the AV8OR is a great offering and would be an asset to any aviator, both in the air and on the ground. The AV8OR is done well, as you’d expect with any product from Bendix/King: It sets the bar for features and affordability. The standard warranty is two years from date of purchase. For more information, visit www.bendixking.com/AV8OR.