First off, let me say that nothing on this site is trying to sell you anything. There are no links to Amazon - nothing. The information here is my opinion - nothing more - nothing less. This article was last updated in May 2015.
I initially created this article because I owned a Lowrance 2000c GPS and one day, out of the blue, Lowrance decided to stop selling and more importantly, stop supporting their aviation GPS units. They handled the situation totally wrong! Their decision to completely abandon the aviation community so abruptly was totally unacceptable and I will never have one of their products again - not for my boat, not for anything!
Now, for a replacement, here are my thoughts. This is a list of portable aviation GPS units and software solutions that I put together as a quick reference guide. It's not a complete comparison by any means. It is meant to let you know what is available and where to get more information about them. Please note that I place a very high emphasis on being American Made as this country is in dire need of jobs right now - I hope you'll take that into consideration when making your next purchase.
1. Garmin is a great company and the leader in aviation avionics but they tend to be pricey. I have included one of their models here that is somewhat comparable to the iFly 720 but look at the price difference. Plus, Garmin uses Jeppesen so updates can be expensive as well.
2. AvMap EKP IV is a portable aeronautical GPS with a 7 inch display and sunlight-viewable LCD. It's a foreign company (Italy) and updates are a pain to accomplish (by E-mail / web and ZIP files). At the price of this line of GPS units, I'd opt for a Garmin instead at $1800 plus. At least then I wouldn't have to worry about getting caught up in another "Lowrance" situation.
3. Anywhere Map has a unit that is very competitive in features and price. It's called the Quadra and comes in 'Basic, Max, and EFB' versions starting at $395. Control Vision has been in business since 1981 and also offers just the application program for your own iPad or Android Pad if you wish. They have been developing and marketing aviation based products since 1999. They are located in Pittsburg, Kansas.
4. The iFly Series (iFly 520, iFly 720, and iFly 740) by Adventure Pilot™ offers a 5 or 7 inch touch screen, low cost annual updates, and many unique features for a fairly reasonable price. Standard price includes STAR, Approach and Departure and other FAA charts (never buy Sectionals again!), airport diagrams, big buttons that fade out when not needed, zoom levels from 2 to 100 NM per inch, multi leg flight plans, and much, much more. Connect an ADS-B for free weather maps and aircraft avoidance system!
5. Low cost phone / tablet solutions: Are you looking for a Android/Apple phone or iPad/Android Tablet solution? Try Anywhere Map Freedom for $49.99 or WingX Pro (see note, below) for under $100.
6. Finally, if you have an Android Tablet (or even a android phone), you really should give Avare (pronounced Av Air) a try. Avare is a aviation moving map GPS system that also supports ADSB and AHRS (no kidding). It is TOTALLY free, wrote by pilots for pilots and it is evolving really fast. Avare's basic features include online or offline air field info, approach plates, and GPS moving map on all FAA VFR Sectionals, WACs, and TACs, plus IFR Low charts and airport diagrams. You can also manually browse all charts and all other materials even without cell service or GPS. Current FAA weather METARs, TAFs, and TFRs are provided too. You can get Avare from the Play Store on your android phone or tablet. There is no support currently for Apple products.
Before we look at the hardware and software, it's important to know about four terms thrown around today; WAAS, A-GPS, ADS-B, AHRS:
Here I attempt to compare some key aviation GPS units as well as software-only aviation navigation solutions: