Although Garmin debuted the premium priced GPSMap 696 only a year ago, it's rolling out yet another new portable navigator model line this week at AOPA Summit in Tampa, Florida. The new product line is called aera, and although its features and capabilities are similar to the popular GPSMap 396/496 series, the aera line will have something entirely new: a touchscreen interface. Gone are the page, enter, and rocker keys, replaced by what Garmin calls an intuitive touchscreen operating system. As with previous portables, the aera products will have a full range of navigation capability, plus XM WX weather, XM audio, Garmin's SafeTaxi ground awareness feature, and the AOPA Airport Directory. The new navigators will be dual purpose as well, with ground navigation capability provided as a standard feature.
Garmin says the aera screens are larger than the 396/496, measuring 4.3 inches on the diagonal. The aera will be available in four models, beginning with the $799 500 and topping out with the $1,999 full-featured aera 560. All of these products will be shown at AOPA Summit this week, and for information, see Garmin.com.
Garmin provided AVweb with a demo unit before the show and we spent a week wringing it out. See the video here.
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