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Garmin GPSMAP 696 Aviation GPS Offers Split-screen Versatility

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating
User Rating 5 Star Rating (1 Review)

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Garmin GPSMAP 696

Garmin GPSMAP 696 offers split-screen versatility

Image © Garmin

The Bottom Line

Garmin takes portable aviation GPS to the next level with its GPSMAP 696 multi-function display (MFD) model. The 696 features a big (7-inches diagonal), bright, high-resolution display that can be operated in split-screen mode to display maps and instruments simultaneously. You may also use all of the display for maps, taxiway diagrams, weather, terrain, and more. This is an advanced aviation GPS for a pilot who wants every feature and has room to mount a device measuring 8x6 inches, or is willing to use a yoke mount.

Pros

  • Big, high-resolution screen permits simultaneous map and instrument viewing.
  • XM satellite weather radio and integrated weather display layer.
  • High-resolution terrain alert features.

Cons

  • May have difficulty finding room for it in the cockpit.
  • Study up and practice to master all of its features and controls.

Description

  • Unit dimensions: 5.7"W x 7.7"H x 2.0"D (14.5 x 19.5 x 5.1 cm).
  • Display size: 3.6"W x 6.0"H (9.1 x 15.2 cm); 7.0" diag (17.78 cm).
  • Display type: color WVGA TFT with adjustable backlighting.
  • Weight: 35.7 ounces (1,012 g) with battery pack.
  • Battery: rechargeable, replaceable nickel-metal hydride. Life: up to 2.5 hours with full backlight and GXM 40 connected.
  • Jeppesen databases: full and ARTCC, FSS frequencies and final approach waypoints.
  • Preloaded AOPA Airport Directory.
  • Waypoints/favorites/locations: 3,000; Routes: 50.
  • Automatic logbook.

Guide Review - Garmin GPSMAP 696 Aviation GPS Offers Split-screen Versatility

One of the highlights of visiting my brother, Bob, in Durango, Colorado is flying in his small plane. What better excuse to take Garmin's state-of-the-art GPSMAP 696 aviation GPS out for a test flight? We plotted a route between Durango and Moab, Utah, and set out with the 696. Bob is a regular user of the smaller Garmin 396 model, so we were able to compare the two directly.

The 696's big screen provides more real estate than ever in an aviation portable, and we were impressed with its ability to show instruments and a generous-sized map simultaneously. What's more, you can mix and match and control display elements in many ways with a joystick/option knob and a set of softkeys. The 696's processing power helped it render graphics and switch views very quickly.

With the addition of Garmin FliteCharts and IFR map mode, the 696 has "electronic flight bag" capability, reducing reliance on paper charts.

Our test unit included a GXM satellite antenna and an XM subscription, giving us access to hi-res weather, including NEXRAD radar, routine weather reports, TAFs, TARs, lightning, winds aloft, turbulence, and icing. Weather data can be laid over navigation and topo maps. Fortunately, we were flying on a clear and beautiful day.

With mountains to our west and north, we had plenty of opportunity to see how the 696's hi-res terrain mapping worked. It shows hazards relative to altitude, has adjustable alerts, and contour terrain mapping. The 696 comes with a built-in Jeppesen database and obstacles database.

The 696 includes Garmin SafeTaxi, with detailed taxiway diagrams for 850 US airports. An included Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association database includes detailed info for 5,300 U.S. airports.

Overall, the 696 is a terrific tool for the serious pilot with room in the cockpit, and $3,595 to spend on a portable MFD.

User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 5 out of 5
Pro-class navigator for the weekend warrior, Member flitetym

I like devices that have a rock-solid build quality, and the 696/695 falls into that category. For those of you that are photographers, look at it this way: it's the difference between a ""point-and-shoot"" digicam and a Nikon D3 or a Canon EOS 1D. Both take good pictures, but there are other design factors such as ergonomics, utility, etc. that determine an instrument's ultimate value. This device is only limited by the user's willingness to completely train himself and delve into the nuances of the menu items. I fully expect that the 696/695 will be around for a long time--if only based upon the demonstrated willingness of Garmin to continually commit to firmware upgrades and improvements for the unit. At first, I too balked at the price. But no longer. The value of the unit rests in ease of use and durability, both of which make it a class leader. Any prospective purchaser may rest assured his investment cost will be retained via a high resale price should the owner choose this option. In fact, I would wager a guess that a price increase would be in the works in the near term. In all, the 696/695 represents the next generation of navigation. The NDBs and VORs are now paperweights. Looking back at all the training costs and attendant frustrations of those legacy systems, I think the newest Garmins fare rather inexpensively, indeed. Stop resisting. Beg, borrow, steal or share. Trust me. The 696/695 is where you want to be.

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