The simpler and more economical version of the DSP Pro, the DSP Sport is an excellently designed and easy to use beacon. The construction seems solid, even with the clear view through and has a compact and dense shape. Out of the box it comes with a fairly comfortable harness that includes an elastic with OK reach for sweeping the ground. Also included is a small wrist strap for use in a secure pocket, but I’d think that a longer elastic that could be fastened inside the pocket would be a better choice.
Possibly the best avalanche beacon on the market
Operation is simple with a locked off/send/search sliding switch that can be easily controlled wearing thick gloves. Pushing in the lock button allows the beacon to be turned to on or off or search, while no pressing of the lock button is required to switch from search to send. This could be easy to accidently switch while searching, but also quick to change back in the case of a second slide.
The Pieps software is fairly fast, taking only a few seconds to start searching and identify a beacon. During a mock three burial test, I was able to narrow down each victim fairly quickly and the range was quite good. The farthest out I was able to trace a signal was around 45 m along a flux line.
Victim direction and distance signals came up quickly compared to some beacons I’ve used with a bit of a processing delay. This enabled running quickly to the victim and staying directly on the right path. One great feature of this beacon is that the directional arrows disappear once within bracketing distance (~2m) so that the searcher won’t be mislead by arrows when narrowing down the victim.
The marking feature was intuitive and functioned well, quickly switching off the nearby located signal and showing it on the display in an intuitive way.
The unit takes 3 AAA batteries and seems to have decent lifetime, thought the display lacks a numerical battery measure, only showing a cell-phone type 3 bar indication. This is a bit problematic, but claims to have 60-20 hrs of send time remaining at 1/3 bars.
It is nice to see you’re battery life at all times, not just at startup, and for most users probably best to just swap in fresh batteries once you drop into the 2/3 range. The beacon does provide the option of software upgrades, so hopefully a numerical battery life startup would be provided in the future.
Other features of this beacon include iPROBE support, an auto antenna switch that will change the transmitting antenna if it encounters any electronic interference. Also is an advanced beacon check function that measures your buddies’ frequency and signal, and standard auto switch from search to send after a time of inactivity. Just named one of the best avalanche beacons of the year toboot.
Overall, the DSP Sport from Pieps ($319) is an excellent beacon that includes many more advanced features at a price similar to some of the more basic beacons on the market. Its straightforward and simple intuitive use makes for a short learning curve and reliability while under the pressure of a search scenario.