Voyager 4.0-First Impressions

Voyager-4-01I have just installed the alpha release of Voyager 4.0, a sophisticated flight-planning and electronic flight bag tool from Seattle Avionics. An alpha release is still far from a final product, but it’s good check point to evaluate how well a new version installs and runs on various systems. And in this case, it’s given me a look at the overhauled charting engine for Voyager.

I’m running the new release on a Dell computer that’s running Vista Ultimate. Because the new charting system works much like Google Earth, it’s best to have a system with a good video card–not the on-board, "shared" video memory so common on budget systems today. My 4-year-old system has a relatively new ATI card with 512 Mb of video memory, so it can take advantage of the new charting engine.

And, boy, is the new interface fast! My only major complaint about Voyager has been speed. Zooming in and out and panning around charts has always been slow, at least compared to the latest mapping tools such as Google Earth and Microsoft Virtual Earth. That’s no longer an issue with Voyager 4.0.

The alpha release doesn’t include the final VFR and IFR chart overlays that will make the Voyager match the charts that pilots use in the cockpit, but they shouldn’t slow things down.

Voyager-4-02

I’m also impressed that the alpha has proven stable on my system; it’s loading and saving existing flight flights, showing IAP charts, and grabbing weather data from the Web with aplomb.

I look forward to the beta and exploring Voyager 4.0 in more detail. I’ll post a detailed review of the final release in the Product Reviews section of my Web site.

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