Published On: Sat, Jun 1st, 2013

Garmin GPSMAP 796: The Ultimate in Portable Situational Awareness

gps 496-2by Stephen Lewis

To call the Garmin GPSMAP 496 a handheld GPS really doesn’t do it justice. In fact, labeling it as a portable MFD still misses the mark as to the capabilities this unit brings to the cockpit. Quite simply, the 496 is an affordable, reliable electronic copilot that vastly improves the situational awareness capabilities available to general aviation pilots.

For many, Garmin has long been considered the master of satellite navigation. While the company has brought airliner-worthy electronics to the general aviation market, GA pilots don’t have to shell out thousands of dollars for glass panel avionics to benefit from the company’s offerings. The 496 provides the best in navigation, terrain, weather, traffic, and entertainment in a compact, lightweight device.

See Everything on the Ground and in the Air

While the 496 excels in the airborne environment, it brings equally impressive navigation to ground-based transportation. The unit features Garmin SafeTaxiTM, a database of airport diagrams and location info for over 650 US airfields. Who among us hasn’t gotten confused while navigating the maze of pavement at an unfamiliar airport? With the 496, you’ll know exactly where you are and how to safely reach your destination.

For auto use, the 496 comes preloaded with City Navigator® NT, which features street maps for all of North America or Europe. Best of all, there’s no additional software to download or install. Whether you’re flying or driving, simply enter your destination and let Garmin handle the rest.

Enjoy the Benefits of Satellite Delivery

With the 796, Garmin takes satellite navigation well beyond following a pink line from Point A to Point B. With an XM subscription, users can receive weather data, including NEXRAD radar overlayed on the map. Additionally, subscribers have access to over 170 channels of XM radio, perfect for entertaining passengers or avoiding boredom on long flights. When coupled with a Garmin mode S transponder, the 496 can even display TIS traffic warnings. Navigation, weather, traffic, and entertainment? Not bad for a 14.2 oz portable.

Breathe New Life into Your Flying

For those of us who fly vintage aircraft, Garmin’s 496 can bring our flying into the 21st century. With used models selling for roughly $1,195; pilots have access to a highly capable MFD for a fraction of the cost of panel-installed equipment. The 496 is also ideal for pilots who fly multiple aircraft. Simply stow the device in your flight bag and enjoy a quick setup in every plane you fly.

Turn Would-Be Emergencies into Controllable Inconveniences

If you avoid night or IFR flying for fear of an electrical failure, the 496 can easily allay your apprehension. The device’s Lithium battery provides 5-15 hours of reliable power, easily enough time to get you safely on the ground. Additionally, the unit features Garmin’s proprietary panel page of basic flight instrumentation. With its 5 Hz update rate, the 496 delivers near real-time presentation of the aircraft’s attitude. When combined with the database’s popup terrain warnings, the 496 greatly enhances the safety measures available to pilots.

A State-of-the-Art Cockpit in a Portable Unit

Besides the above-mentioned features, the 496 also includes AOPA’s Airport Directory; an electronic compilation of over 5,300 US airports, more than 6,000 FBOs, and airports of entry throughout Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. In addition, the unit’s database includes private airports and heliports. Now imagine having all this info in a reliable, handheld device for roughly $1,200. If just a portion of the 496’s features will enhance your flying, the unit is worth a serious look.

To learn more, check out Garmin GPSMAP 496 Aviation GPS Receiver

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