The French Alpine Club in Pau has published its annual avalanche transceiver test, this one covering beacons that will be on sale next season. They note that progress has stalled a bit after the near universal adoption of 3 antennas. They note that some big names in the freeride sector see security as a communications tool and have acquired various brands. K2 and BCA, Black Diamond and Pieps, Deuter and Ortovox.
The Pau section of the CAF looked at 20 models and tested 17 on the ground. Range given various configurations, compatibility between models, multivictim search, ease of use, electromagnetic interference from other devices. The test winners are no surprise, the Mammut Pulse and the Ortovox S1+ which lacks range compared to the Pulse. The lack of range of the BCA Tracker DTS and Pieps Freeride made the primary search phase "laborious" for typical avalanche situations in their opinion and they feel that buyers can rule them out even if the price is attractive. They also suggest that Ortovox F1 users finally consider upgrading their beacons despite over a couple of decades good service. This beacon is prone to frequency drift and requires careful maintenance. Something we suggested back in 2008
They feel there is still progress to be made, with multivictim searches in mid-range devices and especially in the final search phase but remind readers that no matter which beacon, you need to train to use it effectively. They also feel the prices are too high, apart from the Pieps Freeride a basic beacon costs 190€ and you need to spend over 300€ for a beacon that is reliable and effective even if skiers in led groups can get away with entry or mid level beacons.