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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Garmin 796 Review
Unlike the trouble free Garmin 696 when it came out 3 years ago, the Garmin 796 has been riddled with software issues. I have about 50 hours now on it. I was one of the first to buy it several months ago. A month ago I was ready to return mine. There were too many bugs. In addition to running too hot to touch in my airplane in the afternoon sun, there were a number of...
Published on November 24, 2011 by Donald E. Kaye

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oregon flight
Flying through Oregon in April and deverting around snow storms and using the 796 it suddenly without warning quit on its battery. It was connected to the aircraft plug in but still refused to work. Another brand of GPS (a back up) worked fine in the plug in and saved the day. Garmin said it needed updated and that seems to fix the problem but I do not trust it and will...
Published 15 months ago by Justine M. Fowler


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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Garmin 796 Review, November 24, 2011
By 
Donald E. Kaye (Santa Clara, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Garmin aera 796 Portable Touchscreen Aviation Navigators with 3D Vision (Electronics)
Unlike the trouble free Garmin 696 when it came out 3 years ago, the Garmin 796 has been riddled with software issues. I have about 50 hours now on it. I was one of the first to buy it several months ago. A month ago I was ready to return mine. There were too many bugs. In addition to running too hot to touch in my airplane in the afternoon sun, there were a number of menu items that were included in the 696 that were missing from the 796 such as measuring distance between two points and rubber banding of flight plan legs. I sent Garmin my list of problems with the unit. They paid attention and now with system 2.3 the bugs, as far as I can tell, are down to four: the flight logging which was so useful on the 696 is totally intermittent in its logging of flights: the data logging doesn't separate out individual flights as it does on the 696: sometimes the flight plan is not displayed on the map after a flight plan is entered; and finally sometimes while scrolling through the XM channels, the whole unit freezes and needs to be rebooted. However, I'm not willing to send mine back just yet. While the pages are not set up as conveniently as in the 696, I have found that I can get around much,faster than with the buttons of the 696. Garmin added some new shortcut menu features with System 2.3, and a new system is forthcoming. I haven't had the heating issue, since I got a new exchange unit. I recommended some upgrades that could make navigating the screens easier. Garmin support has been very open to suggestions. When the 696 came out, I quickly was able to enthusiastically recommend it. While at present I cannot recommend purchase of the 796, if Garmin continues to fix the problems that make it unreliable for use in the cockpit, I hope to be able to update this review with a positive recommendation in the not too distant future.

UPDATED 2/7/2012
With the System 2.5 update I can now highly recommend the purchase of this GPS. Two minor software problems still persist, but they are insignificant compared to the improvements made to this product. A Climb Gradient data field has been added to the list of data fields along with a significant improvement to the 3D Vision Page, the addition of a VNAV glidepath window and a VSI tape with a carrot showing VS necessary to track that glidepath. "Field of view" lines have also been added to the split screen 3D Vision Page like the G1000 has. While the 796 still can't measure distance between two points like the 696 can, the additional features give it more useful functionality than the 696, and I wouldn't want to fly now without it. I'm upgrading the review to 5 stars.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Software issues-unit evolving- updated, November 8, 2011
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Garmin aera 796 Portable Touchscreen Aviation Navigators with 3D Vision (Electronics)
I was quite excited about this product when I was first introduced to it. However, after using it on several flights I do not consider it reliable in its current state. I have had numerous "lock-ups" where the software stops responding and appears to be in some sort of loop. This has occurred more frequently when trying to access the weather products and then return to navigation. Occasionally the keyboard seems to lose its calibration which makes it impossible to continue its use. The only resolution to the problems has been to power off and then back on. This disrupts the weather updates, and they are not available until the normal update sequences are re-established. All of this makes it highly suspect during a critical aspect of flight such as an instrument approach. The potential of this product is very high, but I am waiting for an update to the software that will correct some of these issues. The unit already required an initial software update that corrected issues from the factory installed software.

11-9-11 After contacting Garmin support I received an email directing me to the process for installing the latest update. I was familiar with the process, but I did not know there were additional updates available. There have been notable enhancements in addition to the bug fixes with this latest update. The unit is evolving to the level I have come to expect from Garmin, and I also think it will make five star status within a reasonable time. Used on several flights, and it is extremely useful with situational awareness.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Glitches and Bugs but still OK, December 30, 2011
This review is from: Garmin aera 796 Portable Touchscreen Aviation Navigators with 3D Vision (Electronics)
This is my fourth Garmin in my Bonanza. The 796 is full of potential but there are some bugs; I hope Garmin works them out. It appears that this unit was rushed to market in time for Christmas 2011 without some things getting tested or fixed first. Here is what's wrong in my opinion:

1.)Software is not ready for prime time...I am on my second 796 in two days because the first one loaded up the opening page and then went to a black screen. The second one did the same thing but I discovered that if I looked at the dark screen in a dark room a very dim text could be seen. At the bottom of this screen was a notification that the display data was corrupted. Tech support asked me to re download the VFR/IFR data base and limit the download to less than the full USA. This fixed the problem. I suspect that this glitch is what produced the black screen on the first unit. We had thought this was a power/battery problems...it wasn't.

2.) I removed the cigarette lighter adapter and hard wired the unit to my airplane's avionics buss because my airplane's cigarette lighter was removed years ago as unsafe...an AD (FAA Airworthiness Directive) was issued on that. I have not seen a cigarette lighter in any modern airplane in years and years....Garmin should have known about that. After I talked about this with Tech support they have sent me a replacement input cradle which can be connected to the buss with the proper in line fuse. Tech support thinks that fuse is a 3amp fuse...but my avionics shop says the required fuse is 3 milliamps...big difference. Given the alleged power problem as in item 1, above, this is a big deal.

3.)Use of the "Direct To" button produces a "course line" in magenta from the place the intended flight path is initiated to the destination...usually from an airport to an airport. This course line stays on the screen(s) until the route is completed or deleted. This is a problem which some of my previous Garmins had but which could be remedied in their software but the 796 doesn't have that capability. What is needed is the option to select a BEARING LINE...not a course line...that starts from the airplane's present position to the intended destination or waypoint. Garmin's engineers apparently think that an airplane can/will fly a direct course.....like a VOR to VOR airways course line.....to the destination. But flying VFR around Class B airspace or mountains (I fly in So California where there is a bunch of that) requires many, many deviations from an intended course line. IFR flying ALWAYS includes deviations from an intended course line too. The 796 can display a numeric bearing to the target and that's what we use around here...but the unusable magenta course line clutters up a screen which is already full of stuff. An option for show a bearing line is needed here...IMHO.

I suspect that Garmin will update the operating system again to correct some of this. But I think these problems are pretty serious ones and any competent pilot would have pointed them out before the 796s were released. Tech support at Garmin has been very helpful and knowledgeable...the "course line" problem above was well known to one of these guys who happened to be an experience pilot....he couldn't help with fixing the problem, though. I also found that calls to Garmin's HQ were exceptionally tough to complete...multiple menus to go through and then routing to a voice mail system. I am a very experienced leader of a very large team of employees who know that a customer is the ONLY reason for a corporation to exist. Garmin apparently hasn't quite figured that out...at least in its inbound call handling system at HQ.

But...bottom line...when these glitches are worked out the 796 will be/is a magnificent and utterly useful tool for any pilot. :-)
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I pinch myself every time I use this to make sure I'm not dreaming, May 8, 2013
By 
DHS (NH United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Garmin aera 796 Portable Touchscreen Aviation Navigators with 3D Vision (Electronics)
The synthetic vision with terrain is a safety feature unparalleled in GA cockpits. Add full featured weather and XM music through the headsets and it is the cheapest and most valuable docking station avionic in the stack. I have bought two and may buy a third. I am trying to use my Foreflight in the 3rd plane I fly with it's new terrain but it isn't even close in safety. In the panel of the 414 it looks good with the 530 and MX20 but provides better information. The yoke mount in the 182 is better for approaches then the panel mount because you can read the information up close. In this feature the Ipad wins out for the big screen. The 530 cross fill to the 796 makes programming easy. I still keep an Ipad on trips for IFR filing and internet features where 3G is available. The terrain features on the 796 allow you to select sensitivity so alerts or red terrain only show when it is seriously perilous. The 530 alerts me constantly to obstacles when the 796 shows I have a safety margin. Night, MVFR and IFR I don't like to fly without it.

I have had trouble the 796 but the bugs have been worked out. Watch out for the Air Gizmos docking station "ON" button touching the 796 "ON" button if you don't pull it up all the way. This will cause the unit to freeze up, shut down, keys not work etc. That was a pain to troubleshoot. Make sure you update to the latest software. The unit you get may have been sitting on the shelf since the latest version was released.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Oregon flight, June 2, 2013
This review is from: Garmin aera 796 Portable Touchscreen Aviation Navigators with 3D Vision (Electronics)
Flying through Oregon in April and deverting around snow storms and using the 796 it suddenly without warning quit on its battery. It was connected to the aircraft plug in but still refused to work. Another brand of GPS (a back up) worked fine in the plug in and saved the day. Garmin said it needed updated and that seems to fix the problem but I do not trust it and will sell it if I can. I cannot recommend buying one.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Crashes, April 22, 2013
This review is from: Garmin aera 796 Portable Touchscreen Aviation Navigators with 3D Vision (Electronics)
The 796 is much faster than my 496. I love many of the added features like synthetic vision. It has several fatal flaws however.
First it crashes either by going black or freezes. If you're following fir charts this is inexcusable
Second, when you take off below protected airspace, you can't see it until you're n it which means you earna violatin. Pretty bad stuff. I use a back u iPad since it cannot be trusted. I just bought this and was assured all, the bugs were fixed. If you value your license, save your money
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing Nav Aid for the price, January 10, 2013
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Garmin aera 796 Portable Touchscreen Aviation Navigators with 3D Vision (Electronics)
I bought this used on Amazon and I can see no difference between it and the new ones. I did notice in turbulance I must have hit something on the screen that locked it up. I tried to shut it off and couldn't and finally had to remove it from the panel and remove the battery pack for a few minutes. I reassembled, reinstalled and it's worked fine since then. Must have been "cockpit error", but I still wonder what caused it and glad I was VFR at the time.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unusable, December 6, 2011
This review is from: Garmin aera 796 Portable Touchscreen Aviation Navigators with 3D Vision (Electronics)
I use a MacBook Pro. As soon as I updated the database on the Aera 796, the aviation database was wiped out. After numerous e-mails to Garmin, I was directed to call them. When I did, I was told that the Aera 796 software did not talk to the Mac and was directed to find a PC to update the software. I did, but the software update was not successful. I still have no aviation data and the Garmin Web Updater still won't talk to my Aera. So far, I have been unable to use this device and I have had it for nearly a month. It is headed back to Garmin.

I have to admit that I am disappointed. I was really looking forward to this product. It is a shame it did not live up to expectations.

UPDATE: I was able to reset the Aera 796 and using my MacBook Pro (not a PC), was able to update the operating system. Once that was done, the update to the database was done and everything appears to be working as advertised. I'm keeping the unit for now, but have concerns about the reliability.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Downloading data is terrible and NEVER occurs without an error, July 13, 2014
This review is from: Garmin aera 796 Portable Touchscreen Aviation Navigators with 3D Vision (Electronics)
Absolutely awful device. Downloading data is terrible and NEVER occurs without an error. The difficulty in downloading data base updates makes the unit particularly useless. I would never recommend this unit to anyone.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Useless for jet aircraft, February 15, 2014
By 
This review is from: Garmin aera 796 Portable Touchscreen Aviation Navigators with 3D Vision (Electronics)
Our aviation department was in the market for a backup/companion to our onboard weather radar.
We contemplated an ADS-B system that would work with our iPads and looked at the Dual X-GPS170. But when the Garmin 796 came along with all the bells and whistles, we decided to spend the extra money in order to get the Nexrad/XM weather capability. By extra money, I mean $699 for the Dual vs. $2800+ for the Garmin.

When we received the package and set it up there were more wires than on a desktop computer. I guess the concept of Bluetooth or Wi-Fi has gotten lost on the Garmin folks. One of the wires is for the XM antenna and the other for the GPS, but it makes for an awful lot of wires sitting on the glare shield of the cockpit. The unit itself is about the size of a tablet but considerably thicker.
The first time we used it, we flew from Texas to Pennsylvania. It quickly became apparent that the Garmin does not pick up any satellites going northbound rendering it useless on that trip. On the flight back it worked OK, but given that there was no weather to speak of it didn't do much good. The other problem is that the battery only lasts around 3 hours, thus you would either have to hard wire it in or turn it off when not needed.

The second time we used it was on a trip to the South of Texas. On that trip I also borrowed a second generation Stratus ADS-B unit. They both performed well going in a southerly direction with the Garmin giving you instant weather and the Stratus ADS-B lagging behind a few minutes. The Stratus as big as it is still connects to your iPad via wifi and does not require all the cables that the Garmin does. The only back draw to the Stratus is that you will need a Foreflight account, as it does not work with Jeppesen.

Even though we spent close to $3K on this device it now sits at the office without being used. The large wire salad and inability to get satellite reception in all directions makes it useless for our needs. In a GA aircraft you can probably put the antenna on the rear window as you fly on a northerly heading and perhaps that's the reason for the long wire. But I imagine that it would be a major inconvenience to have all those wires crossing the cockpit.

Since our Garmin has become a $3K paperweight we are donating it to our helicopter guys, hopefully they will have better luck. We are going to give the Dual XGPS170 a go. Based on our experience with the Dual 150 I have high hopes, that it will work better than the Garmin for about a quarter of the price.
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