Please find below information on all the avalanche transceivers that Facewest sell at the start of the 2018/19 winter. Since our Transceiver Review 17/18 the most noticeable thing is 3 new transceivers from Pieps. Two of which are double badged as Black Diamond Transceivers. The old Pieps DSP Pro and Tour are replaced by the Black Diamond Guide BT snd Recon BT and the addition of the Pieps Micro.
In general I feel that the transceiver market has crystalized into 2 distinct groups, Standard and Advanced Transceivers.
Click through from the transceiver name for full information, feature video and search demo video.
The models in this group have homogenized into a pretty standard set of features with corresponding technology. This is not a bad thing as standard transceivers offer all the features that most people will ever need or will have the skill to deploy. If you have used and become comfortable with one transceiver in this group you could easily use any other. You could see this as a lack of choice or you could see as being very clear on the features that the majority of people need. There are small differences in size, weight, battery life and of course cost but there are greater similarities than differences. I would be happy for my skiing partners to have any of the transceivers in this group. Get one and then get out there and practice with it.
Included in the standard transceiver group is the Ortovox Zoom+. This transceiver differs from others in the standard group as it lacks signal suppression / masking and has firmware that cannot be updated. Ortovox have cut every corner to keep the cost of the Zoom+ down without compromising safety in order to make transceivers as accessible as possible. For example the Zoom+ has a very simple LED display but it does the job. The Zoom+ does use smart antenna selection to optimise detection even though that feature is invisible to the user. The build quality might feel a little cheaper than other models but we haven't had any returned to Facewest yet as not functioning. Ortovox have chosen to put money into features that matter and not into frills. A transceiver with updatable software might be a better long term investment but I am just as happy to ski with someone with a Zoom+ as with any other model.
These 3 transceivers offer a selection of advanced modes which may be useful in the rare event of the multiple close burial. The user must be skillful for these features to be of benefit and not recommended to the once or twice a year user. Honestly will you do the practise required?
Mammut Barryvox S - Just about all the features can be customised by the user. The distances are which the displays change, an analogue mode for using micro strips, target selection based on movement (if search Barryvox S to Barryvox S),the distance at which masking can be activated and the auto revert timing. The Barryvox S can be used as fully automatic with factory defaults in which case it would be the same as the Mammut Barryvox in use.
Black Diamond Guide BT - Very similar to the Barryvox S above in terms of the available extras and ability to use with factory defaults, making it like a standard transceiver. The Guide BT also has 2 scan functions which could potentially help with multiple burials and older transceivers suffering from frequency drift.
Ortovox S1+ - Fundamentally different from the two above. The S1+ is the only transceiver which will show the distance and direction to more than the strongest signal. The strongest signal gets a larger bold icon whilst other signals are smaller on the screen. This gives a great overview if you understand it but very confusing if not. The S1+ also has a micro strip mode and the ability to configure when search modes/ displays change.