Dec 17 2009

AeroWeather App – Dan’s Review

Category: iPhone Apps,RamblingsDaniel @ 5:37 am

Released Dec 02, 2009
Seller:  Pascal Dreer
(C) 2008 Pascal Dreer
Price (as of 12/17/2009):  FREE!
Rated 3.5 as of 12/17/2009 on iTunes Store

In my opinion, the AeroWeather free app is a powerful and must-have application for all pilots.  It’s simplicity is what makes it so great.  You just set your favorite airports and it pulls the current weather conditions (METARs) and forecasts (TAFs).  You can choose airport weather stations from the built-in database by either name or ICAO code.  The great thing for us pilots who don’t read METARs and TAFs every day is that the data can be shown in its original format or fully decoded into plain English.  I find this particularly useful in that it converts the Zulu time found in TAF’s into local time (a huge brain-power saver).  AeroWeather also puts a nice green/yellow/red icon next to each weather station to indicate whether the weather is at VFR/IFR minimums, another simple way to know if your flight is actually going to happen.

AeroWeather_Screencap_1AeroWeather_Screencap_2Sorry my review isn’t much longer, but that about covers everything this great little app does.  I would highly recommend this for ALL pilots, but especially general aviation pilots.  Check out AeroWeather on the iTunes Store here!

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Feb 28 2009

APIC Moving Map Review on Mio C320 (Doesn’t Work)

Category: Aviation GPS,RamblingsDaniel @ 12:35 pm

Approach Systems Inc’s APIC Moving Map software, although very cool looking, AND the availability of a totally free version, is not compatible with the Mio C320.  According to their website, the program is not compatible with any program running Windows CE.  Even though the Mio does indeed run WinCE, I did try installing it anyway and sure enough, it doesn’t work.  Oh well.  If the makers of APIC decide to ever make a version for Windows CE, you bet I’ll be first in line to test/try it!

I will say the PC version (especially the free version) is very cool and if you have an ultra-mobile notebook PC with a GPS receiver, definitely give this software a shot.

Test Specs: Approach Systems APIC tested on February 27, 2009 on Mio C320
Pros: Cool looking, but doesn’t work on Mio.  Give PC version a shot.
Cons: Does not work on Mio C320.

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Feb 26 2009

Pocket FMS Review on Mio C320

Category: Aviation GPS,RamblingsDaniel @ 5:15 am

I’m starting my review series of various GPS applications for my new Mio C320 with the Pocket FMS application.  I heard promising things about this software from other blogs, so I decided this would be a good place to start and I had high hopes.

mioc520-08Overall this program has a TON of features.  From multiple moving maps to in-depth flight planning and even weather, the PocketFMS people did indeed include many great features.  The included databases and maps are up-to-date and very detailed.  You can click on basically ANY data point, airport, airspace, NDB, VOR, etc., and this program will give you applicable data.  Obviously you aren’t supposed to use this as your primary navigation/data source, but if you DID happen to forget everything in your plane except for Pocket FMS, you’d have the information you need to get around.  See their features page for all the great things the program can do.  I’ll also give them props for including detailed step-by-step instructions and the ability to install on “unlocked” personal navigation devices (PNDs) like my Mio C320.  This program installed very easily as advertised and I was hopeful this would be an awesome trial.  For €150 per year (they are based in Europe) this program would totally seem worth it too IF I decided to buy…

HOWEVER, the only problem (and unfortunately this is the killer) is that this whole application runs ridiculously slow on the Mio C320.  I can’t address the speed of this program on other handheld systems, but even on my home office PC, the desktop version of the software ran slowly.  There’s clearly a LOT of information being processed and put on the screen and that takes computing power/time.  I tweaked the settings as much as possible (checked their forums) to help boost performance without much incremental benefit.  Obviously, when you are flying at 110 knots or so, waiting 10-15 seconds for your map to refresh after a zoom in/out (not exagerating), this program becomes useless.  Even the extra text data when you click an airport, let’s say, takes a good 5 seconds to load.  Getting back to the map takes 10-15 seconds again.  This wastes precious time and more importantly takes your eyes off the sky and your focus off flying the plane.

Bottom line is that I’m glad I tried this software and they DO provide 30 days to test it out for free on your own device, that’s nice.  So, I recommend checking it yourself and hopefully it’s faster for you.  But, for me, this program doesn’t cut it and I’m not going to be spending my money on Pocket FMS for my Mio C320.

Test Specs: Pocket FMS version 1.2.1 tested on February 25, 2009 on Mio C320.
Pros: Tons of features, tons of data, good maps, great information.
Cons: Too slow to use.  Period.

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