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Pieps Pro BT/Black Diamond Guide BT Avalanche Transceiver Review

Pieps Pro BT
Pieps Pro BT
Black Diamond Guide BT
BD Guide BT

Naming Confusion: The Pieps Pro BT avalanche transceiver is identical to the Black Diamond Guide BT (Black Diamond has owned Pieps since 2012), with the only exception being the Pieps Pro has a yellow switch and the Black Diamond Guide has a light blue switch. This website refers to these as the "Pro/Guide" transceivers.

Summary: The Pro/Guide transceivers replace the Pieps DSP Pro transceiver. They are more feature-packed versions of the Powder BT/Recon BT transceivers.

Review Pending

Although these transceivers were released worldwide in November 2018, they will be in limited supply until March 2019. A full rollout will take place in the Fall of 2019.

I will write a review of these transceivers later, but I expect the Pro/Guide transceivers will be even better than the Pieps DSP Pro. The preliminary five-star rating is based on extensive testing of the Pieps DSP Pro and on limited testing of the Pro/Guide.

The transceiver comparison does have a column for the Pro/Guide.

Summary

The following are some of the enhancements to both the Pro/Guide BT and Powder/Recon BT transceivers compared to the Pieps DSP Sport and Pieps DSP Pro transceivers:

  • The new transceivers can connect to the Pieps app on your phone using Bluetooth (aka "BT"). This outstanding design makes it much easier to change the configuration settings (i.e., alkaline or lithium batteries, time before auto-reverting to transmit, enable/disable group check, etc). You can also use the Pieps app to update these transceivers, turn multiple "BT" transceivers into a mobile beacon park, and more.
  • The new transceivers have a sliding Off/Send/Receive switch that is similar to the Pieps Sport and Pieps DSP Pro, except the sliding "lock" on the new transceiver doesn't feel as positive (I often have to physically push the lock to the right to fully engage it). And, at least on the two new units I own, the sliding switches are exceptionally stiff.
  • The reception range of the new transceivers is purportedly improved when the transmitting and receiving antennas are when in perpendicular alignment. In my testing, the ranges were similar to previous DSP transceivers
  • The harnesses are similar to the Pieps Sport and Pieps DSP Pro, but they no longer have the clever design that causes a pull on the closure strap to extract the transceiver. I'm puzzled why they would remove this minor yet helpful feature.
  • The transceivers now have a formal "group check" mode (activated by pressing and holding the Flag button when CH is displayed during startup).
  • The transceivers support lithium as well as alkaline batteries. Lithium batteries last much longer than alkaline batteries (up to 600 hours transmitting on the Pro/Guide and 300 hours on the Powder/Recon).

The following are some of the enhancements to the Pro/Guide BT transceivers compared to the Pieps DSP Pro:

  • The Pro/Guide not only has a group check mode (as mentioned above), but it also has a "Pro-mode" group check mode (press and hold the Scan button when CH is displayed during startup). When the Pro-mode is enabled, tipping the transceiver up or down tests whether the other transceivers are searching or sending. Personally, I find the Pro-mode group check confusing and leave it turned off.
  • If enabled (using the Pieps app), the Pro/Guide will vibrate when it first receives a signal during the signal search and when you enter Send mode (either after turning the device on or after switching from Search to Send).
  • If enabled (using the Pieps app), you can press-and-hold the Scan button to switch to an analog mode. I really like the concept of this feature (a few other transceivers, including the Barryvox S and Pulse, can be toggled to analog), but the analog audio on the Pro/Guide is unusually statically compared to any other analog avalanche transceiver and, unlike the Barryvox S and Pulse transceivers, the Pro/Guide transceivers do not display distance or direction when in analog mode. As implemented, this mode is marginally helpful.
Model:  Pro/Guide
Manufacture:  Pieps/BD
Retail Price:  $449.95
Score: 
Type:  Analog and Digital
Antennas:  3
Marking:  Yes
Updateable:  Yes
Owner's Manual:  Download

Pros: Great range, simple controls, easy updates, toggles to analog, excellent perpendicular reception range.
Cons: Analog mode suffers from static and lacks digital processing.