John Ewing has posted a very thorough review of the Garmin GTN 650 (MSRP $11,495) and GTN 750 (MSRP $16,995) products (as gleaned from videos and announcements of their release) on has Aviation Mentor website that is well worth reading – especially if you (like many pilots) are unhappy with the shortcomings in Garmin’s 430/530/G1000 user interfaces. In fact, John began his post by noting that:
Not unlike Microsoft Word, many of us got used to the dance of cursor-mode-big-knob-little-knob-enter and tended to forget how bad the user interface (UI) really was. To their credit, Garmin has done the sensible thing: Confronted with a bad UI that suffers from the Tyranny of the Installed Base, they started over from scratch with a touch-screen interface. While I’ve yet to actually handle one of these units, a lot can be gleaned from the videos that have been released and the information at Garmin’s website.
John then pointed out that the GTN 750 and 650 are targeting the aging GNS 530W and 430W in terms of both size and features and he went into considerable detail about how manufacturers will attempt to use as few buttons or knobs as possible to save on manufacturing costs but then overload the buttons and knobs they do provide with too many functions.
However, the new GTN units are equipped with a touch-sensitive screen plus only two physical buttons, two knobs and an SD card slot. In addition, there are grip points on the sides and on the bottom of each unit so that pilots can steady their hands in turbulence. Furthermore, there are also suggestions that there might be voice control features at some point in the future but for now, the touch-screen will provide most of the user interface flexibility.
John also noted that one of the best things that Garmin did with the 430/530 was to make a PC-based simulator available to download at no extra charge as he contends that this was one of the driving forces driving forces behind the widespread acceptance by pilots and aircraft owners alike of the 430/530 series. However, John pointed out that there is (so far) no simulator available for the GTN series but he hopes that Garmin will see that its in their best interest and in the interest of pilots and aircraft owners to provide one.
At the end of his post, John wrote that he will leave it up to aircraft owners and aviation pundits to decide whether or not the GTN 650 and GTN 750 products are attractively priced at US$11,495 and US$16,995 respectively. Nevertheless, John also added that he would definitely like to try out any aircraft equipped with either GTN product.