Apple versus aera: The battle for cockpit supremacy.
Okay, so the title is a bit over-the-top. That being said though, it’s not too far off. I’d say that out of all the product-related questions we get each week, asking whether the Apple iPad or the Garmin aera 760 is the “best” portable solution is easily in the top three.
Like so many things in aviation, it’s not an easy question to answer. Both units have their share of pluses and minuses. And the final tally depends on a lot of situational variables, including how you want to use it? The avionics in the aircraft? How often do you fly? Well, you get the idea.
To help you make the right decision regarding which is best for you, I’ve assembled a few of the Pros and Cons of each unit.
Apple iPad pros:
• You probably already own one.
• Very easy and intuitive to use.
• Does more than just run aviation apps. You can do email, watch movies, or play games.
• Do all of your flight planning at home then take it to the airplane.
• Comes in two sizes.
• Affordably priced from $350 to $700.
Apple iPad cons:
• Prone to overheating issues when sitting on glare shield or left in the sun.
• Lightweight means it’s not very robust. Drop it, and it’s likely done.
• IOS apps updates have been known to have negative effects on some aviation apps.
• Need to buy an external GPS/ADS-B unit like the Stratus III for $700.
• You have to buy a subscription to an aviation app such as ForeFlight or Garmin Pilot.
• Cannot be hard-wired to aircraft power with also installing a USB port.
* There are few if any, options to get Sirius/XM on an iPad.
Garmin aera 760 pros:
• Rugged and specifically built for aviation applications.
• Out-of-the-box ready-to-use, and operates as a color GPS navigator with moving maps, North American airport database, built-in terrain awareness, internal AHRS, synthetic vision, and a lot more.
• No third-party subscriptions are needed.
• Does not overheat under normal conditions.
• Can be hard-wired into the cockpit to integrate with Garmin avionics.
• Can integrate with GTX 345 ADS-B transponder to show ADS-B weather and traffic.
* Sirius/XM is easy added with GDL 51 portable receiver ($549), which connects wirelessly to aera 760.
Garmin aera 760 cons:
• No real use outside of the cockpit.
• Can’t run third-party apps.
• At $1,499, it’s more expensive.
• Depending on how the aircraft’s avionics are configured, it may require the purchase of a Garmin GDL 50 portable ADS-B receiver for $699 in order to display ADS-B weather/traffic.
That’s a pretty good look at the pros and cons of both units. With regards to their dimensions, the iPad Mini and the Area 760 are about the same size. They both easily fit on any of a variety of yoke mount units without blocking your view of any of the panel instruments. If you want to use a larger display like the iPad Air or Pro, the bigger screen is great, but when it’s mounted on the yoke, it can interfere with your view of some instruments or partially blocks the view out a window. But there are other mounting options. I have seen many pilots just lay the larger iPad in the right seat, which may not be ideal when flying IFR.
So which unit wins the battle for cockpit supremacy? Sorry, there is no clear “winner.” The truth is, they’re both very capable at what they do. But neither can do everything.
Which one do I use? Neither one. We have two 10.6” EFIS displays in our RV-7, so we have all the information we could ever need right there in the panel. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.
But, back to the subject at hand, as I said before, should you need what a portable can bring to your cockpit, choosing the “right one” is purely a matter of what you want and need to help you fly smarter, and safer, without unnecessary complexity.
My best suggestion is to call me at (503) 678-6242 (ext: 201), and we can discuss your exact needs, situation, and budget. Give me 15 minutes, and I’ll provide you with the answers you need to make the big decision about the perfect portable unit for you.
Until next time, keep looking up,