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Actually, I just used an Aera 500 Garmin for my last tour and I like it more than the 296 now.


At first, it's a bit annoying because you think it takes more button pushing. But once I realized that it's the bomb for entering and editing waypoints names etc. I really started to like it. Having a touchscreen keypad to enter a waypoint name is just way faster and easier than the old way.


There is a menu button with a little D-> symbol in the corner of it. Once I figured out that touching and holding it down was the same as pushing the D-> button on the 296 and just tapping it is the same as the menu button things were simpler.


Really, it does everything and more than the 296. Planning a flight across Canada was very simple and fast too with the keypad.


Another thing I liked was the moving map display shows the identifier and the name of nearby aerodromes. This is nice for making radio calls enroute.


I could go on and on, but just give it a try for a week or two and make the effort to really figure it out and you will probably start to like it too.

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The Aera's have their place with the longer flights but when you're at your next waypoint every 30 seconds, you can't beat the simplicity and speed of the 296's. The Aera just won't do it. Try going from say waypoint "12" and then enter waypoint "84" on an Aera. The 296 would be around the 5 sec. mark. The Aera has the scroll down which is sooo laggy. It just doesn't cut it when you require fast entrys.

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I only played with an Aera for a bit. It seems to only go down to 0.1 NM where as the 296 goes right down to the nearest foot. So it depends on what you're doing with it. We're slinging loads into specific spots in tall timber so the Aera was pretty much useless. I also found that when typing on the touch screen the the number next to the number i wanted to hit would be selected, like if I wanted to hit the 4 it would either select the 3 or 5. That may be due to the fact that the unit is mounted in the centre of the panel and not in front of me........ also i usually drink a few rums to calm my nerves before i go flying. This stuff may be fixable if you play with the settings or read the manual (but who the #### does that). I'm glad it was my company that wasted the money and not me personally.

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