Page 6 of 8
Search-strip Width: 50 meters
The S1’s flip-up LCD display automatically sorts multiple burials, displays approximate relative locations of victims, and has an effective multiple-marking feature. For 2010, software version 2.1 refines and improves self-testing and the beacon’s ability to manage and pinpoint older (defective) beacons that have drifted out of transmitting frequency standards. Select retailers can update the S1, or Ortovox USA will do it for the cost of shipping.
The S1 showed a long average range of 37 meters, but the average of the lowest 10% was 22 meters, a bit below the other long-range beacons. Unlike other beacons, however, which might detect (then lose) a weak signal at long range, when the S1 locks on, it won’t let go.
At long range, all testers felt the directional arrow shifted too much, and the novice eight-year-old (who favored the simplicity of the d3) liked this display the least. At mid-range, however, the directional indicator smoothed out, and the displayed distance readings were the most accurate of any beacon tested. The perspective display of the buried victim provides valuable visual feedback of the victim location, and the S1 effectively shows when you are pointing away from the victim by moving the victim below the crosshair, instead of having to wait for increasing distance numbers to clue you in.
At three meters, the display switches to pinpoint. A circle with four “concentric” arrows shrinks as you get closer to the victim, and the distance is displayed in the middle of the circle. This graphic split the testers: the pro said, “makes sense to me,” and the Tester C found it “intuitive.” Other testers didn’t prefer this presentation of the information, and complained that the numbers were too small.
The unique ability to see the relative location and approximate distance of multiple victims plotted on its LCD display separates the S1 from all other beacons and helps provide an overall sense of the avalanche scene. Does it work perfectly? No. Is it helpful? Almost always. Multiples were found quickly, but the testers felt more familiarity would help even more. The avy pro added, “There’s a lot of potential there…it could become my top choice.” With its effective marking, it handled the difficult three-beacons-within-three-meters multiple scenario well, locking solidly onto the middle beacon, marking it, pinpointing the next closest, marking it, and finishing with the last.
As with other features of the S1, the clamshell design polarized testers. Some thought it was cumbersome, but the professor liked that it eliminates the need to check the position of a switch to confirm mode. The harness is simple and comfortable.
A complete package: long range, diagramming of multiple burials, effective marking, and smooth pinpointing.
There can be an overwhelming amount of rapidly changing info displayed for multiples, and at $500, it’s the highest priced beacon.