Summary: The Pieps DSP Sport replaced the Pieps DSP Tour shortly after Black Diamond acquired Pieps in 2013. The Sport includes the strengths of the popular Tour plus a slew of notable enhancements. And the Sport costs less than the Tour. Black Diamond is truly pushing the envelope with the price-to-features ratio of avalanche transceivers.
The Pieps DSP Pro is the Sport's big brother. The Pro adds several features that, depending on your needs, are enhancements or unnecessary. The features discussed on this page apply to both the Sport and Pro models.
Old versus New: If you liked the "old yellow" versions of the popular Pieps beacons (i.e., the original Pieps DSP and the DSP Tour), you'll be stoked to see that Black Diamond has made these transceivers even better. Here's a summary of the changes between pre- versus post-Black Diamond versions of the DSP transceivers.
Black Diamond obviously listened to feedback from their users and scoured BeaconReviews.com. The above changes, and the aggressive prices, once again position Pieps as an industry leader. You can't go wrong with either the Sport or Pro.
Back to Basics
The remainder of this review explains the core functions of the DSP Sport and DSP Pro. Other than the above mentioned changes (which are significant), these transceivers are basically unchanged from the Tour and original DSP.
The Sport and Pro DSPs are undeniably strong contenders in a crowded market. They're small, have some of the longest reception ranges of the digitals (and slightly longer range on the DSP Pro), allow you to ignore a transceiver during a multiple burial, are excellent at dealing with spikes during deeper burials, and can be user-upgraded with newer features.
Searching: The DSPs have a long range and an intuitive direction indicator. The DSPs have outstanding range in the "worst case" antenna orientation (in our testing, the DSP's "worse case" range is often better than when the antennas are aligned). That's a significant advantage because it makes it less likely that you'll fail to locate the victim during the signal search.
As with almost all transceivers, if you are headed in the wrong direction (which can easily happen, since transceivers simply align you with the transmitting beacon's flux lines) you will need to notice that the distance is increasing and turn around.
Multiple Burials: The DSP's handling of multiple burials is similar to other digital transceivers: you press the Flag button to ignore the current beacon and advance to the next beacon. The Pro also has a Scan function that will display the number of transmitters within 5, 20, and 50 meters, but unlike the Tracker3, the scan feature doesn't indicate direction.
When multiple signals are received by the Pieps DSPs, little men () are displayed on the screen indicating the number of transmitters.
After locating the first victim, you can instruct the searching transmitter to suppress (i.e., ignore) that signal by pressing and releasing the Mark button (on the older yellow DSPs you need to hold the button pressed until the distance indicator changes to "--"). A box will then surround that little man and the transceiver will guide you to the next signal.
To unmark all previously marked transceivers on the older DSPs, toggle the transceiver to Send and then Search mode. On the Sport and Pro, you can unmark the last transceiver that was marked by pressing and holding the Mark button for three seconds.
The newer DSPs (i.e., the Sport and Pro) were very responsive during my multiple burial testing. The older (yellow) DSP were a little slower to mark and worked best if you held the transceiver very still when pressing the Mark button. If you own an older (yellow) DSP, make sure you have the latest software update. (It's also worth nothing that the newer DSPs allow marking from any distance whereas most transceivers only allow marking when you're within 2 or 3 meters.)
Controls: The switch that changes between Off, Send, and Search is the most intuitive of all the beacons I've reviewed. The Sport's single button, a flag, tells the transceiver to ignore the nearest transceiver during a multiple burial search.
Comfort: The Pieps harness is now on its fourth generation. The new harness is a very comfortable pouch-style harness. It can be purchased separately from Black Diamond.
Other Features: All of the DSPs support the Pieps iProbe.
The DSPs will blink two of the little man icons () at the bottom of the screen if it senses a continuous background signal (i.e., an older analog beacon). To test this, I searched for an Ortovox M1 which had a strong background signal. The DSP's man icon did not blink during the coarse search, but it did display two blinking men during the fine search. The blinking men are an indication that the DSP is aware of an unusual signal.
Auto Revert: Both the Sport and Pro support auto-reverting from search to send, but unlike other transceivers that support this feature, this can be enabled/disabled only at a Pieps service center. When enabled, "AR" blinks in the display while transmitting. The Sport auto-reverts after 4 minutes; the Pro auto-reverts after 1 minute without significant motion. These beacons give plenty of warning, both before reverting and after, so you don't mistakenly revert during a search.
Upgrades: The firmware can be updated at service centers. Read about the latest software updates here.
Warranty Issues: I have seen three issues with the Pieps Sport and Pieps Pro which are covered by warranty. First, some units develop black "speckles" near the bottom of the display. You might think you damaged the screen during use, but the blackened screen is caused by a manufacturing defect and the speckles won't appear until you have used the Sport for a while. Second, the tiny piece of plastic where the leash connects to the transceiver occasionally breaks. And third, some cases develop a small crack near the battery door. All of these have been corrected in later models. If you do encounter these problems, you should return your transceiver to Pieps (or Black Diamond) for a replacement.
Other: Read about the DSP's self-test.
The Pieps warranty only covers the DSP for 2 years unless you register it within three months of the date of purchase, in which case the warranty is extended to 5 years.