Garmin Announces New Portable GPS

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In a market rich with tablet and smartphone navigation apps, Garmin has announced a new, purpose-built portable GPS navigator, the aera 660. It's the company's first dedicated aviation portable since the aera 796 appeared in 2011. Following the trend in smartphones, the aera 660 has a 5-inch capacitive touchscreen and more interface capability than any previous portable from any manufacturer. Its operating logic resembles the GTN series and G3X Touch products, so anyone familiar with those should adapt to the 660 easily, according to Garmin.

The aera 660's Connext wireless interface includes the ability to link with Garmin's VIRB XE camera, the recently announced GTX345 transponder and the GDL39/GDL39 3D portable ADS-B In receivers. The 660 will also be compatible with Flight Stream, Garmin's in-cockpit wireless network system that links panel avionics to tablets and smartphones. Taken together, these capabilities mean that ADS-B traffic and weather can be displayed on the aera 660 through a variety of sources.

The aera 660 will have data features similar to Garmin's apps and panel mounts including daily updates for fuel prices, WireAware to alert helicopter pilots of power line locations and VFR helicopter charting coverage for eight metro areas in the U.S., plus the Gulf of Mexico. Garmin says database revisions will be available for as little as $29.95 for a single update or in bundles for $149.95 annually. European operators will have a new enhanced base map.

The aera 660 will retail for $849 and is expected to be available later in March.