SimCharts by Jeppesen
By FlightSim.Com Staff (17 March 2000)
INTRODUCTIONimCharts is made by Jeppesen. Jeppesen has been in the business of making educational tools for pilots of all levels of skill. I remember way back to 1985 when I started college (ewww, I'm gettin' old now!) and was given the private pilot ground school kit, which was Jeppesen. Then a year or two later, the electronic E6-B computer was made. Then a few years later after getting my CFI, I learned they made worldwide charts for IFR and airline pilots. As a corporate pilot I used them sometimes, sometimes just the government's NOS charts. The Jeppesen charts were always nicely organized in my captain's fat binder. However, in turbulence they tore easily! When subscribing to such a massive and complete charting service, pilots spend most of their "down time" replenishing revisions to their "fat books". As a flightsimming pilot of 20 years now, I am not surprised they finally got into simmming. It's a big business and one many a real pilot spend their time doing when not filling in the revisions
I've always had a feeling the Jeppesen people are a serious bunch, doing serious things. I was glad to receive a copy of SimCharts for the Central US as a base for my review. I recently reviewed SimPlates 2000. There is obviously competition in the flightsim charting business. How does it compare?
SimCharts gives you smaller chunks of area than does SimPlates. It takes three volumes to cover the USA, while SimPlates covers the entire US in one package. They basically provide the user the same information. That is, IFR approach plates, departure routings, STARS (standard terminal arrival routes), airport diagrams and other information. SimCharts comes with a nice pack of low altitude enroute charts for the area you purchase. So, you will get a pack of real pilots' charts! SimPlates doesn't have real charts in the box. However, SimPlates gives the user a more exciting interface and menu system and doesn't have that stodgy plain look that SimCharts has. However, SimCharts runs faster, has a clean quick interface and will get you to the maps you want slightly faster than SimPlates.
Once you select a 4-letter ID for the airport you want, or just type in a name, you'll get a window with all the goodies you'll ever want, displayed to the right. Just click on what type of chart you want to view, and then blow it up. What I didn't like is that the charts are very large - bigger than the monitor. So in turn, you must zoom in very far to read the information. Then, the entire chart is too big to see on one view, so you must scroll around. I would have much preferred a chart that is legible and the same size of a real approach plate all in one. SimPlates has big charts too, but overall you can read more just off the monitor. The printed quality of the SimCharts is excellent however. Slightly better than the quality of SimPlates when printed.
For $39 each (with the pack of low altitude enroute charts) or $19.95 without, you'll get one of the three US versions. There is also a version that covers western Europe. SimCharts offers you the entire US for $24.95 plus several more features in the program. Now, I find the $39 price would be great if these were charts to use in real life, or perhaps even $39 for that whole area every quarter if I used them for real flying - but not for just flightsimming. Granted, they are Jeppesen, professionally made and of good quality - but still way overpriced. But even if you get the version without charts, it's still $60 to cover the USA. Now, if you want all the paper charts to go with your other plates that come on the computer, then you may be getting a really good value. Personally, I don't use the low altitude charts all that often in my simming, even if it is IFR. So, this is really a personal decision.
I'll give SimCharts by Jeppesen a 75 out of 100 points. Again, good quality and design at more than I want to pay.
|NOTE: For this test I used a PII 333, 128 MB RAM system equipped with a Voodoo2 PCI graphics card.|
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