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Garmin Aera vs Anywheremap Quadra

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Well-Known Member
Apr 8, 2010
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My Aera 500 got stolen, Anywheremap ran a black Friday special and i jumped at the offer. I haven't flow the Quadra yet but have had it in sim mode for a couple of hours.
I'm a tad biased towards the Aera and a little skeptical about the Quadra when I ordered it but the price was right and I needed a GPS.

Quadra, hands down. Got Sectional charts and lifetime updates and a wall charger for less than the price of the lowest end Aera. Granted this was a special and I'd probably save money
with the Aera seeing as I probably never would have paid the outrageous fees Garmin charges for updates and I don't think any new mountains are popping up around here anytime soon.

Initial reaction:
Packaged about the same, Quadra is smaller than the Aera, screen size is the same. The Quadra comes with a wall charger which is a big plus in my opinion.
Quadra seems a little cheaper made, cigarette lighter charger, wall charger seem like something you would pick up at a flea market.
They are standard mini USB so anything that you pick up at a flea market should work if something goes bad. No custom connectors on the Quadra like the Aera has.
Yoke mount is just a metal/plastic mount, no built in circuitry that marries you to Garmin for chargers. Advantage Quadra. I'm a software developer and appreciate sticking
to standards and being able to pick up parts at any convenience store. The yoke mounts are about the same. The Aera came with a friction mount, the Quadra with a suction mount that appears to be of good quality.

Turning it on:
Screen brightness is good, resolution is great. Anywheremap claims their screen is slightly dimmer than the Aera. Under indoor lighting conditions, id be tempted to say it wasn't but the detail may just make it seem crisper first impression is, its a draw. I've never really had an issue except for a minute or two here and there with the sun washing out the screen of the Aera in my Cherokee, bubble canopy plane pilots this might be an issue, I don't think it will be for me in the Cherokee.

Getting Started:
I'm a computer guy, I don't need a manual. I'm confused. For the first 10 minutes of playing with the settings/options. A couple of times I press a button and there is a delay for a couple of seconds. Initial reaction is something is wrong the more I play with it the more it becomes a non issue because I know its going to take a second or so. Not quite as responsive as the Aera but this thing is loaded with customizations. The Aera is definitely more straightforward to use right out of the box with no manual. Actually the only thing I had to read in the manual about the Aera was to hold the the direct to button down then press activate to go there. The Aera wins in simplicity and responsiveness, the Quadra wins in features and customization. After playing with the settings for an hour or so and figuring out how they work (this isn't as straightforward as it might seem), I'm starting to like it more. Having written and maintained more Windows CE based applications than I care to remember, the Quadra is definitely Windows CE based, It has a very computer feel to it. This makes me nervous, I know how shaky it can be. It appears the developers done a great job though, glad I didn't have to do it.

Just found the simulator mode:
I turned the simulator on, my main concern was terrain. Garmin had terrain avoidance down to an art (With the exception of that woman screaming "PULL UP!" on base leg to a runway). Garmin seems to have had me in mind when they setup the Aera. I had to tweak the Quadra for quite a while to get it like I wanted it and I still haven't fully convinced myself that it's setup like I want it. The terrain detail (They call it Ultra TAWS) is leaps and bounds above the Aera as far as detail and "pretty factor" it looks much nicer, I'll have to fly it to see how useful it is. I got the sectional map add on. Aside from having a familiar friend on the GPS, I dunno what good it does, the info on the default overlay fits on the screen better and is much more informative and easier to read, but the cool factor is there useful or not.

WiFi at the office has a non-broadcasting SSID. I cant connect to it with the Quadra since it wont let me specify the SSID. This is something that shouldn't have been overlooked. OK, so I plug it into the USB cable, it comes up as a drive, Windows Mobile Device Center has no idea what it is. I try to install the checklists and can't because WMDC doesnt recognize the device or even know its there. I install ULink and get my update fix. Spend 5 minutes troubleshooting why WMDC isn't working then decide i don't care right now because I really don't know what it does for me, ULink worked fine for the updates. I have written software for consumer PDA's, Symbol and Intermec commercial ones and various WIndows Mobile platforms and I can say without a doubt it is a horror story writing computer-to-portable synchronization processes using Active Sync/WMDC interface so I'll give them a pass on that, (I hate to tell a customer the technology sucks, but it does and trying to compensate for the limitations is a lot of work). I still don't like that It's Windows CE based. The WiFi is cool being able to grab metar and taf's and search the web without having to reach into my pocket and get out my Droid X is a major convenience :ugeek: Advantage Quadra in that it has Wifi, I only updated my Garmin once and it worked OK, but I didn't have another kidney to sell to get any subsequent updates.

Lets Plan A flight:
Flight planner is straightforward and the search is more intuitive for me than the Aera albeit a little more complex. I felt that was one area the Aera was insufficient was searching for airports and waypoints. No problems finding and adding waypoints on the Quadra except that I initially tried to tag one onto the end of the plan and it stuck in next to the end. I'll need to figure out why that was. The sim just flies a heading until you tell it to fly another one so i haven't flow it yet to see how well it follows the flight plan and jumps to the next waypoint. The Aera seemed to have taken forever to swap to the next waypoint when I changed headings short of one waypoint in order to shorten the distance (flying in valleys).

Overall, I was 90% sure I would have buyers remorse and put it on Ebay and get my money back. After playing with it a couple of hours, I don't think i will. Good entry price, upgradeable to XM Weather, and lifetime updates for the cost of 1 month of Garmin updates. Resolution is great and has tons of options. It doesn't seem quite as polished as the Garmin but being a techie it's OK. I'm going to actually fly it Sunday weather permitting, I'll post an update then if anyone is interested. So far, pleased with the purchase. It appears Garmin took the road of you can do everything you want with the GPS in the air and the simplicity of the Aera is nice. The Quadra takes some setting up and customizing and has a little bit steeper learning curve. I like the customization of the Quadra and the Simplicity of the Aera. Right now its technology draw, Quadra gets the edge in the price department and in Geek factor.

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