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Hands-on Gear Review
Pros: Fast processing speed, long range.
Cons: Not as many features for the price.
Best Uses: Backcountry skiing, backcountry snow boarding, snowmobiling.
The Pieps DSP was the first three-antennae beacon and remains a top performer in range, spike handling, speed, and simplicity. That said, for only a little more than the price of the Pieps DSP you can get the Editors' Choice Mammut Pulse Barryvox. The Pulse has a bunch more features and has a long range. However, if you prefer a more simple "arrow, number, beep" interface, the Pieps may be the way to go. Compared with our Best Buy award winner, the Backcountry Access Tracker 2, the Peips had a few more features, including ones involving multiple burials and has a 25 percent better range. If $450 seems a little out of your price range consider the Pieps DSP Tour, basically the same beacon without the "fish finder" button ( the frequency check) for $150 less.
RELATED: Our complete review of avalanche beacons
OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Pieps has a long range and works fast. Although on paper the Pieps has a very similar range to the Barryvox Pulse and the Ortovox S1+, in real world testing we always found that the Pieps had the best range. Pieps claims they use higher quality crystals in their antenna to maximize their range.
The DSP is one of the fastest beacons on the market and is very comparable in speed to the BCA Tracker 2. When put the DSP head to head with the Pulse in a single burial scenario we found little difference, but if more than one victim was introduced the Pulse had a ever so slightly faster processing speed and allowed us to move quicker than the DSP. The DSP was faster than all the other beacons we tested.
The Pieps, being the first triple antenna beacon, was one of the first beacons to handle signal spikes well and eliminate the shadow box phenomenon.
It handles multiple burials well and lets you mark/flag a victim, then move on to the next. It has one of the more effective flagging features; it doesn't blind too large an area.
The controls for switching between search, transmit and off are very intuitive.
We also liked its "fish finder mode" designed for users if they arrive on a scene and don't know the number of buried victims or how they are laid out. As an example, if you hit the Scan or "fish finder" button it will show that there might be one person 0-5 meters away, no one 5-20 meters and one more person greater than 30 meters away.
The Pieps DSP will also tell you how far off of 457,000 Hz your partner's beacon might be. According to Pieps, as long as the number displayed is equal to or less than 80, then the beacon meets its manufacture's specifications. Signal drift is a phenomenon common with all beacons as they get older and their antennae detune or get damaged and drift away from 457,000. Once they drift too far, other beacons might not be able to pick them up.
When you are at the edge of its range, the Pieps can send you away from the victim. At that point it is up to you to notice that you are getting farther away by reading the distance indicator. By comparison, the other high end models (S1 and Pulse) have ways to overcome this problem.
— Ian Nicholson and Chris McNamara
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 1, 2013
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