This Year's Gadget Crop Was Amazing
Final Compilations by ANN Editor-In-Chief/Gadget Hound, Jim
When it comes to the people, planes
and products of the aviation business, ANN firmly believes there is
no such thing as an embarrassment of riches. 2009, as usual, saw a
spate of new products, programs and 'gadgets' designed to separate
a pilot from his flying dollar... fortunately, the vast majority of
them are quite worthy of foregoing the occasional $500 hamburger or
In fact, for 2009 (even more so than last year) we really had to
struggle with the list in order to pare it down to a manageable
assembly and if we hadn't, we'd have easily had to increase the
size of our annual 'Best Of' list to several dozen, or so, to
accommodate them all.
From established products that continue to impress, to new and
exciting developments across the range of general aviation... here,
to our eyes, are some of the most worthy 'gadgets', products and
programs of 2009.
ANN had the chance to really put some great gear to the test
this year... some of it in the process of updating our much beloved
Cirrus G3 Turbo. Over the course of that upgrade, we ran the
gauntlet on seeking and eventually acquiring those things that we
ultimately hoped would allow us to build the Perfect ANN Transport
System. Based on good advice and solid research, our choices have
all proven to be good ones... but a few have simply turned out to
be amazing. A Case in Point... the best we've seen this year, as a
matter of fact --
ANN Gadget Of The Year -- SolidFX FX10
Paper is dead... paper is passe... paper is so yesterday. So say
those working on a number of intriguing but not always proven
electronic charting solutions. Its a tough process -- combining the
needs of pilots who have to work in some tough visual environments
that are not always as friendly to such electronic solutions as one
While a number of interesting products have come to the market
in recent months, one struck us as being the best we've seen so
far... though with the price tag to prove it.
The SolidFX FX10 is based on iRex Digital Reader 1000S, can be
used for reading e-books, newspapers and .pdf files, in addition to
Jeppesen electronic charts.
The full complement of Jeppesen electronic chart coverages,
including a complete worldwide coverage, is available. All Jeppesen
electronic chart subscriptions are updated every two weeks and
updates can be downloaded from the Internet using the Jeppesen
Software Update Manager (JSUM).
Jeppesen’s vector graphic electronic charts give pilots
quick and easy access to approaches, standard instrument
departures, standard terminal arrival routes and airport diagrams.
Textual information is available using Jeppesen’s Text Viewer
software and Jeppesen enroute charts are provided in their proven
paper form for effective viewing of large areas.
Our use of the FX10 was a pretty impressive experience. While
there is no lack of electronic chart readers out there, this is the
first that has combined the proper combination of ease of use,
legibility, and useful features (not the least of which was the
ability to simply jot things down on the display... like
clearances, that could be recalled at will). Screen redraws, by the
way, are pretty speedy, too. Not cheap by any means, the $1595 FX10
none-the-less presents a solid value for the serious IFR pilot who
wants a truly readable chart reader... whether as a primary source
or a backup to the displays on their avionics. SolidFX has done an
admirable job of making the FX10 usable, readable and USEFUL.
Finally; if you are already a Jeppview customer, the annual chart
service is really affordable (only $55!!!)... but about $700 a
year (for the US), if not. Highly recommended.