With our Avy Awareness Night going on this week, a lot of our vendors are in town to attend. We had a clinic with Marcus Petersen at the shop yesterday and I got a good dose of the Ortovox kool-aid. Honestly, I’ve been interested to hear the spiel again on the S1 since getting some improvements from last year. I held out to buy one this season, but I’m thinking about throwing down for one this year. Feel free to get with Marcus at the event if you have your own questions.
Overall the S1 has a very sleek design and seems to be one of the smaller avalanche transceivers out there. Its rounded corners fit nicely in your hand and the tabs to open it have been relocated to make it easier. The operating buttons are placed vertically now (last year they were horizontal) and they are easier to operate with your thumb. I like the new on/off switch on the outside, that way you can turn it on once it’s in the harness. Sometimes I like to wear my transceiver without having it turned on and this avoids having to open the S1 to turn it on. If you want to see all the self check and battery level graphics though, you will have to open it up. If I remember correctly, there may have been an audible beep that indicats battery power, so you could get an idea of what your levels are with it closed…but don’t call me out on it. One note on turning on the Ortovox S1. The computer inside needs a little space to get itself lined out during start-up, so turning it on when your hugging your honey who’s already “beeping” is not recommended. Might only be a problem with other Romeo’s of the world, but I think at least I can handle it.
The harness is pretty standard and comes with a keeper leash. The power indicator lights are visible through a small window so you can double check your status when the time is right. The S1 immediately goes into receive mode when you open the door and it has a motion detector/auto-revert mode that you can set to 30-60-90 or 120 seconds. Meaning…when you are in recieve mode and stop moving for the selected time duration (like when you get buried by some hangfire during a search), the S1 will revert back to transmit. Proper handling of the beacon is directly in front and close to your chest, with an attempt to keep it parallel to the slope. You DO NOT want to swing or rotate the unit.
As you got through your coarse search and get closer to the victims, body images appear on the screen and a distance reading is displayed below the image. Due to the S1’s ability to have true signal-separation between multiple victums, it can handle two and three person burials with ease. If offers a special-mode for 4+ burials that helps to differentiate the signals even more so. The center of the images on the LCD are marked with a triangle. During multiple burials, you want to line up the grid line and head towards the bigger triangle until you reach the pin-point search. After locating the first victim, you can flag it and then focus on the second burial without being distracted by too much information. The S1 has feelings, and if at any time it senses things moving too fast, it tells you by displaying a hand telling you to stop.
The LCD display changes to a circle with a number inside it as you enter the pin-point search mode. The circles get smaller and the number decreases as you get closer. Seems simple enough, because it really is. After a brief familiarization with the working of the buttons, even the most novice user can post sub 5 minute, 2 and 3 person burials. It is that easy. And at 70M, the S1 has a pretty darn good range compared to other digital beacons out there.
In the Menu mode, the S1 lets you choose between regular and 4+ burial modes. If offers a compass, thermometer and inclinometer. The S1 has a buddy check mode to quickly check your group’s transceiver status, as well as an analog mode in case you just have to be old-school…like if there is just way too much electrical interference buzzing around from transformers, power lines and other non-mountain related stuff. The Tools section gives you options like auto-revert mode and you will be able to upgrade the S1 via a infra-red PC hook-up port. I think Skinny Skis is going to be a hub for that kind of stuff around here down the road.
Some may think that some of these features are gimmicks or extras, but the S1 uses everyone of these sensors (like inclination and compass) to determine the location of the buried victims, or else it wouldn’t be able to sell it in Europe. It’s that high tech.
Check out this funny Bode Miller Video
The S1 looks sweet. I seems like we’re getting closer to an ibeacon.
How much longer till there’s one hand held that serves as a beacon, altimeter, clock, cell/sat phone, personal locator, thermometer, music player, and video/still camera? I say 5 years
The upgradable firmware is something I’ve been expecting to see on beacons for a while now.
It will be interesting to see if this beacon really takes off.
What does one of these cost?
And which beacon do you think is the best value? I’m looking to upgrade from my old-school Pieps.
I think the S1 beacon is selling well right now and Marcus said they go out as soon as he gets them in. It costs $499…but you can get it at a discount at tonight’s event..and help a good cause as well.
The Ortovox D3…with 3 antennas seems to be a good choice at $289 if you’ve got less cash.
D3 is what I’m looking for, I think.
I’ll spend the extra dough on raffle tickets.
which do you think is better, Ortovox D3 or Tracker? they’re about the same price.
D3 has a third antenna and a multi-burial light. Seems like a no brainer. 😕
If people just learned how to use thier transceivers properly, a lot of this extra stuff wouldn’t be necessary. these features give people a false sense of security b/c they think they have this amazing beacon that can find anyone anywhere. not true. most any beacon will work just fine if you spend some time using it and master the technique. $499 is a waste of money
I agree. Who the hect wants all those features. My BCA tracker has one little screen that displays two numbers thats it.
I am also skeptical about the lcd screen on the orto. My cell phone and ipod screens never work in cold weather why would this be any different.
Bottom line: Practice with whatever you have and don’t rely on your equipment to save your life.
While I aggree that $300 transievers can be just as fast as $500 ones, I’m not going to po-po advancement in technology that may improve my safety in the backcountry.
Maybe I should go back to skiing my straight skis too!
Yeah, people said the same shit about clipless peddles for bikes when they first came out in ’86. Same goes for camming units for rock climbing. Let’s face it, when given a choice to go ski the latest dump of pow’ or go train with their transceiver, you know where the choice usually lies. People don’t practice enough and luckily rarely pay the price of that unfamiliarity. So, when something comes out that increases the chance of success with less skill, why not? As for the LED freezing or working poorly, hopefully having it tucked in nice and warm next to your first layer will take care of it.
I’m waiting for Plake to chime in on the ski comment, Steve!
in any case, either of these transceivers would be faster than my circa-1998 Pieps.
and seconds are precious when you’re digging out a friend!
I think the biggest advancement in the last couple of years–that should not be underestimated–is the ability to Mark or Flag your buried mate so that you can eliminate that persons signal and move on to person number 2, 3, and so forth.
Even with steadfast practice, finding 4 beacons when 2 of them are buried close together is damn difficult. With the new Barryvox, the new Pieps, or new S1, you can find 4 beacons in no time.
And with the number of folks bc skiing these days mulitple burials are that much more likely.
On the lighter side, that Bodie Miller video is a howl! It’s nice to see a great, albeit, somewhat inconsistent world-class skier not take himself too seriously. Nothing new there for him, I guess.