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Garmin intros aera GPS devices for pilots, drivers

updated 02:30 pm EST, Mon November 2, 2009

Garmin aera GPS devices for pilots, drivers

Garmin on Monday introduced a new series of portable GPS devices meant for use by pilots and drivers alike. Making up the aera series are the aera 500, aera 510, aera 550 and aera 560 touchscreen devices, which combine the simplicity of Garmin's in-car navigation units with the feature set and GPS accuracy necessary for pilots. The multi-mode devices switch between auto and aviation mode quickly.

All four devices share a 4.3-inch screen with 480x272 resolution and are legible in direct sunlight. When in aviation mode, color icons represent map, weather, terrain, direct to, HIS/panel, active FPL, numbers, nearest, WPT info, position, XM Weather radio, and tools functions. While all four navigators look identical, they have unique software that allows for different functions and features.

The aera 510 and aera 560 have a GXM 40 receiver that, along with a subscription to the service, provides both XM Radio and XM WX Satellite Weather information. This includes NEXRAD weather radar, aviation routine weather reports (METARs), terminal aerodrome forecasts (TAFs), temporary flight restrictions (TFRs), lightning, winds aloft, turbulence forecasts, PIREPs, icing forecast and other important weather data.

The aera 550 and area 560 have SafeTaxi and AOPA Airport Directory, with the former containing geo-referenced diagrams of over 950 US airports. SafeTaxi identifies runways, taxiways and hangars, as well as the aircraft's exact location on the field. The AOPA Airport Directory has data for more than 5,300 public-use airports and over 7,000 FBOs like pilot services, ground transportation, lodging, restaurants and local attractions.

Through a dedicated website,, users can update database information and purchase aviation databases such as obstacles, terrain and SafeTaxi. The aera 550 and aera 560 include a year's worth of database updates for NavData, obstacles, terrain, SafeTaxi, and AOPA Airport Directory.

In the automotive mode, users will find a familiar interface from the nuvi and zumo line of products and include street-level maps of the US, Canada and Puerto Rico. The ruggedized and waterproof aera devices are also compatible with Garmin's zumo 660 motorcycle mount. Map data is provided by NAVTEQ. Users can also access the XM and XM WX Satellite Weather data on compatible modes in automotive mode, along with XM Radio satellite stations. Pairing Bluetooth headsets or phones is possible with all four aera devices when in automotive mode.

The aera 500, aera 510, aera 550 and aera 560 are now shipping, priced at $799, $1,299, $1,499, and $1,999, respectively.

Garmin Aera 500

Garmin Aera 550

by MacNN Staff



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