Friday, August 29, 2014

Garmin may convince me they don’t want my money

I have this wicked cool GPS.  It is an incredibly good GPS.  It is Garmin’s top-of-the-line hand-held aviation GPS.  I take it with me on every flight. 

On this GPS, I can plan and store flights using fairly intuitive touch gestures.  Much like a tablet’s, but it’s kind of a bummer because I cannot use these plans to file a flight-plan. 

It does require care and feeding.  Every couple weeks I have to plug it into my computer and download about two to three gigabytes of data to update the charts on to it – which is kind of a bummer because a tablet, being already connected to the internet, eliminates the need to plug it in. 

One of those cycles came in the middle of America’s biggest aviation fly-in, AirVenture, or Oshkosh.

No big deal, last time I was at AirVenture, Garmin was selling the updates at the show, I’ll just update while I am there. 

At the show, I learn that neither Garmin nor its vendors have ABILITY NOR PLAN to be able to update their top-of-the-line GPS.  They cannot help me.  And have no suggestion for helping me.  I found an open WiFi hotspot on the edge of the camping area, and left my computer connected to it for four hours to download the update. 

The GPS’s program is pretty static.  Granted it has been updated significantly to eliminate bugs or smooth scrolling issues.  But in the years I've used it, no new features.  It’s pretty good.  But the track log does not include altitude or airspeed, just location.  It allows me to take screen shots, but they always seem to have some odd artifact across the middle. 

Given that there are several tablet base alternatives with MORE FEATURES, and are EASIER to use, and BETTER supported, I would thing that Garmin would be willing to simplify or compromise a bit on price.  So let’s take a look a chart update prices. 

The leader, ForeFlight has a two-tiered plan
Standard:  74.99 / year
Pro:  149.99 / year

I fly Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), so I would need to splurge on the Pro version. 

Garmin’s pricing?  Golly, not really sure.  (copied from Garmin's website)


Database Type
Region
Single Update Price (USD)
Subscription Price (USD)
Airport Directory
Americas by AC-U-KWIK
$49.95
$195.00
Atlantic by AC-U-KWIK
$49.95
$195.00
Pacific by AC-U-KWIK
$49.95
$195.00
United States by AOPA
$49.95
$195.00
Worldwide by AC-U-KWIK
$74.95
$299.00
ChartView Key
Worldwide
$199.00
(N/A)
FliteCharts
Canada
$74.95
$199.95
United States
$74.95
$199.95
North America
$124.95
$299.95
Europe
$124.95
$349.95
IFR/VFR Charts
Austria VFR by Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
$32.00
(N/A)
Belgium VFR by Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
$32.00
(N/A)
Czech Republic VFR by Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
$32.00
(N/A)
Denmark VFR by Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
$32.00
(N/A)
Italy VFR
$32.00
(N/A)
NE France VFR by Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
$32.00
(N/A)
Netherlands VFR by Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
$32.00
(N/A)
Switzerland VFR by Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
$32.00
(N/A)
United States
$39.99
$99.99
W and NW Poland VFR by Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
$43.00
(N/A)
Germany VFR by Deutsche Flugsicherung GmbH
$90.00
(N/A)
Europe VFR without Germany
$120.00
(N/A)
Europe VFR
$205.00
(N/A)
Europe IFR/VFR
(N/A)
$410.00
Navigation Data
US VFR by AeroNav Products
$29.99
$74.99
Americas by Jeppesen
$49.95
$295.00
Atlantic by Jeppesen
$49.95
$295.00
Pacific by Jeppesen
$49.95
$295.00
Worldwide by Jeppesen
$75.00
$450.00
Obstacle
Europe
$49.95
$74.99
Europe (Heli)
$49.95
$74.99
United States
$49.95
$74.99
United States (Heli)
$49.95
$74.99
SafeTaxi
Canada

$49.95
$195.00
United States
$49.95
$195.00
North America
$59.95
$225.00
Europe
$75.00
$299.00
Full Coverage
$99.00
$399.00
Terrain
Worldwide (9 Arc Second)
$74.99
(N/A)


Or I can buy a bundle:

Name
Price (USD)
Databases Included
US Mini Database Bundle
$99.99
Including US VFR Navigation Data, Terrain, and Obstacles databases.
Save $125/year
US Lite Database Bundle
$299.99
Including US VFR Navigation, Obstacles, Terrain, SafeTaxi, Airport Directory, FliteCharts and IFR/VFR Charts databases.
Save $615/year
Europe Lite Database Bundle
$449.99
Including NavData, Obstacles, Airport Directory, SafeTaxi, and Terrain databases.
Save $489/year
Americas Database Bundle
$499.99
Including NavData, Obstacles, Terrain, SafeTaxi, Airport Directory, FliteCharts, and IFR/VFR Charts databases.
Save $765/year
Europe Database Bundle
$649.99
Including NavData, Obstacles, Terrain, Airport Directory, FliteCharts, and SafeTaxi databases.
Save $639/year


So I THINK the equivalent Pro package for flying IFR is either $299.99 or $499.99, not sure what the difference is.  Either way costs me between 200% to 333% more than ForeFlight.

If Apple had not so deeply offended my sensibilities, I would probably be using ForeFlight.  Maybe dealing with Apple would suck less that dealing with Garmin.  It’s getting hard to tell.