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ARVA Neo Avalanche Transceiver Review

The ARVA Neo was released in 2013 and discontinued in 2018.

Image of a ARVA Neo

Summary: The ARVA Neo is a three-antenna avalanche transceiver that supports marking of multiple burials. It's an easy-to-use, moderately priced avalanche transceiver that works well.

Searching: The Neo has a suggested search strip width of 60 meters—similar to the DSP Pro. In my limited testing, the Neo's range exceeded the Pro's by a few meters.

I frequently see the Neo, as well the Neo+, Neo Pro and Evo5 (and maybe on other ARVAs), momentarily report a transmitter (i.e., beep and show a distance and direction) when there isn't a transmitting beacon (aka a "false alarm"). It is as if these transceivers are overly optimistic in reporting they that they are receiving a signal. It would be much better if they would wait until they have a strong signal instead of reporting a signal that isn't there or displaying a direction and distance that are inaccurate.

The Neo displays an LCD direction arrow which can be set to disappear at either 3 or 5 meters to facilitate the fine search.

If you are moving away from a transmitting beacon (which can happen with any transceiver due to the way flux lines propagate), the Axio will display a "U-Turn" arrow indicating that you should turn around.

Spikes: Spike handling of the Neo was good. In a few orientations it wasn't perfect, but it was still good.

ARVA Neo Men ARVA Neo Flag Button

Multiple Burials: The Neo shows up to three silhouettes on the display to indicate the number of transmitters. A plus sign appears when there are more than three transmitters.

When you are within 3 or 5 meters (a custom setting ), a "flag" icon blinks in the upper right-hand corner of the display to let you know that you can "suppress" (aka, "mark" or "flag") that transmitter (read about multiple burials and transceiver marking on AvyRescue.com). Pressing and releasing the intuitive Flag button will ignore the closest beacon and direct you to the next transmitter. A flag will appear next to one of the men. If you attempt to flag a transmitter when you are too far away, the word "no" is displayed on the screen. To unflag the previously ignored transmitters, toggle the Neo to Send and back to Search.

Although I have done minimal testing of the Neo's flag command, the transceiver's use of a consistent image (i.e., a flag) when you are within range, on the button, and next to the flagged silhouettes is very intuitive.

Controls: The Neo's controls are as simple as it gets. The power is turned on when you connect the harness' "plug" (although oddly, you connect the plug by twisting it counter -clockwise). A mitten-friendly sliding switch changes the transceiver between Send and Search. A single "Flag" button is in the center of the device.

The Neo is one of the few avalanche transceivers that does not have a blinking light that shows that it is transmitting (and which would be visible when in its harness).

It's worth noting that the Neo's speaker is loud. Really loud. Aging patrollers who have spent years playing with avalanche explosives will appreciate this.


Group Check: During startup, the Neo displays its firmware version, the battery percentage, and then "CH" (for CHeck) for several seconds. Pressing the Flag button while CH is displayed enters the Neo's group check mode (that's not intuitive). While in group check mode, the Neo beeps if a transmitter is between 0.5 and 1.5 meters. If you get closer than 0.5 meters, it beeps loudly. You can turn off the group check mode by pressing the Flag button.

Revert to Transmit: The Neo can be programmed to automatically switch from search mode to transmit mode if 2, 4, or 8 minutes pass without receiving a signal. Auto-reverting is helpful to ensure that you will be transmitting if you get buried by a second avalanche. The downside of auto-reverting is if a second avalanche occurs while you are searching, it's likely your transceiver will be torn from your hands and your buddies will waste time digging up an unattached transceiver. The Neo gives a loud audible warning before reverting during which you can press the Flag button to continue searching.

Comfort: The Neo has a neoprene pouch harness with a Fastex closure. You can remove the connector "plug" from the harness and install it on the leash so you can use the Neo without a harness. The Neo is a little larger and heavier than similarly featured avalanche transceivers.

Updates: The ARVA Neo can be updated by the manufacturer. Read the details here.

Custom Settings: You can specify the number of minutes before the Neo will revert to transmit (specify 0 to disable this feature), the maximum distance where you can flag a transceiver during a multiple burial (either 3 or 5 meters), and whether you want to enable or disable the group check mode on startup ("1" enables and "0" disables). To enter the customizing mode:

  1. Turn off the Neo.
  2. Move the sliding switch to Search.
  3. Hold the "Flag" button pressed.
  4. Turn on the device (by connecting the harness plug).
  5. Release the "Flag" button when the little clock appears in the upper-left corner and a number is displayed in the center.

To change an option:

  1. Press the "Flag" button briefly to move between these options:
    1. The auto revert time (a clock will be displayed in the upper-left corner). This can be set to 0 (disabled), 2, 4, or 8 minutes.
    2. The maximum flagging distance (a flag will be displayed in the upper-right corner). This can be set to 3 or 5 meters.
    3. Enabling or disabling the group check mode ("CH" will be displayed in the center of the screen). Set to "1" to enable or "0" to disable.
    4. Whether the "search reduction" is enabled ("Sr" will be displayed in the center of the screen). Set to "1" to enable or "0" to disable. When enabled, the Neo will reduce its reception range and flash "Sr" if there is significant interference. You should then make narrower search strips.
    5. Exit (displayed as alternating "En" and "nd" for "End).

  2. When the desired option is displayed:
    1. Press and hold the "Flag" button until the current value starts to blink.
    2. Release the "Flag" button.
    3. Press the "Flag" button briefly to move between the available values.
    4. When the desired value is displayed, press and hold the "Flag" button. This will return you to the state where pressing the "Flag" button briefly will move you between options.

  3. Select the "End" option and then hold the "Flag" button to exit the customizing.
Model:  Neo
Manufacturer:  ARVA
Retail Price:  $359.95
(discontinued 09/2018)
Type:  Digital
Antennas:  3
Marking:  Yes
Updatable:  Yes
Owner's Manual:  Read It

Pros: Easy to use, mitten-friendly, customizable.

Cons: Larger. Reports "false alarms".