Ortovox X1 - Simpler than Possible?

Wasn’t it Albert Einstein who said “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler”. One wonders whether the Ortovox X1 digital avalanche beacon has been made just too simple.

Ortovox X1 in action

The X1 gets great advertorial on eCommerce sites and eZines including:

Hear the analog, see the digital, find your buddy

sets new standards

faster rescues, even for novices

but we had also heard darker rumblings from members of the backcountry community. One expert told PisteHors.com that he wouldn’t want his buddies using this beacon to find him and we had heard that another dealer has refused to stock the X1. Others, including Craig Dostie of CouloirMag while not exactly raving about the beacon have been much more positive. Readers should also check out the many interesting avalanche beacon threads on the TelemarkTalk.com forums.

We tested a 2004 version of the X1 with the new faster processor. It is a fully automatic directional digital/analog beacon. That means no confusing options to dial in during the stressful situation of an avalanche search. The downside is a complicated mixture of analog and digital output that is at times is confusing. This beacon takes practise to use competently even in the relatively simple scenario of a single victim buried at 50cm. Do not let a quick tour around the shop fool you. Of course the whole idea of digital technology was to aid backcountry travellers who were not prepared to put the hours in with an analog transceiver .

The X1 offers great range, not as good as the F1 but around 45 meters in our tests. One avalanche expert told us that Ortovox may have tuned the X1 for range at the expense of accuracy and this may account for the somewhat flaky readings we experienced at the limits.

Where we felt the beacon really fell down was on multi-victim searches. Even after a day’s worth of exercises we were still not confident that we could rapidly locate victims that were buried in the same vicinity.

Read More: Review of the Ortovox X1 Avalanche Beacon

Posted by davidof on Sunday, 22 August, 2004 at 04:03 PM

David, thanks for the comprehensive and objective review.  Supposedly the 2005 version will feature 3 antennas, so maybe that will help (or maybe not...).

Posted by  on  Saturday, 28 August, 2004  at 01:24 AM
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