Hands-on Gear Review
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Pros: Fast, good range, Killer price, awesome flagging feature
Cons: Battery life is only displayed in thirds and not a percentage.
Best Uses: A great beacon for most users from novice through expert
The Pieps DPS Sport is our new OutdoorGearLab Best Buy Award Winner because it has the best range of any beacon we tested $335 and below, one of the overall fastest processors and is one of only two beacons we tested to have a flagging feature for a sub $335 beacon. The Pieps DSP Sport is the more basic version of the Pieps DSP Pro and it replaces the Pieps DSP Tour with a number of upgrades and improvements, all while being $75 less than its neon yellow predecessor. Some of the upgrades the DSP Sport has from the previous model are an improved processor speed, better flagging function, 25% bigger display and reduced price. We think nearly all changes that Black Diamond/Pieps made were solid improvements and people who liked the older Pieps will be stoked by the new one.
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OutdoorGearLab Editors' Hands-on Review
The Pieps DSP Sport has a maximum range around 45-50 meters which was a little above the average among avalanche beacons we tested. Unlike the older Pieps DSP and DSP Tour, there is a more significant difference between the maximum range of the Pieps DSP Sport and the DSP DSP Pro. We thought the Pieps Pro had around 8-10 more meters of range than the Pieps Sport. The Pieps Sport has a little longer range than the BCA Tracker 2, but wasn't nearly as good of a range as the Mammut Pulse Barryvox, Arva Neo or Element Barryvox. Relative to its cost, the Pieps DSP Sport has the longest range of any beacon we tested under $300 and had better range than the BCA Tracker 2, Ortovox Zoom+, Ortovox 3+, or the Arva EVo3+.
Ease of finding single victim
The user interface of the Pieps DSP Sport is nicely labeled and simple to use. The DSP Sport uses five directional arrows to help the rescuer stay on the flux-line. Like many other beacons, the Sport's directional arrows can be combined two at a time to further help the searcher stay on the flux line. The DSP Sport has one of the faster processors of any of the beacons we tested especially when comparing it to other beacons $300 and under like the Arva Evo3+, Pieps Freeride($170) or the Ortovox Zoom+. We also thought it was near as fast or faster than several, slightly more expensive beacons like the Mammut Element Barryvox($350), Ortovox 3+($350) or the Arva Neo ($350). Compared to the older DSP Tour the Sport is noticeably faster during our side-by-side comparisons.
Ease of use in fine search
While the fine search generally refers to just the bracketing portion of the beacon search, we also included our findings during the final five meters before bracketing begins as part of this category. Just like in the "Ease of finding a single victim" category we loved the Pieps DSP Sport's processor speed in the fine search, it has a quick processor and was easy to understand. We thought it bracketed very precisely and was among the best overall during our side-by-side tests. The Pieps directional arrows go away at two meters and only display numbers to help remind the rescuer to start bracketing.
Ease of using multiple burials
One of our top picks for multiple burial searches and among beacons we tested was the best in these scenerios for sub $300. The Pieps Sport has a super functional and easy to use flagging feature that is an improvement over the previous, older Pieps DSP Tour. It shows the number of victims with little buried person icons up to four victims, when the Pieps DSP Sport flags a victim it puts a square around them to show they have been flagged. The Sport has no "unflagging" feature like the more complex version the Pieps DSP Pro.
Smart Transmitter Technology
The Pieps Sport, like the all the other current Pieps beacons uses their "Smart Transmitter Technology. This technology is designed to help eliminating signal overlap when multiple beacons are buried. How it works, is after the buried beacon hasn't moved for two minutes (Like when you are buried) it searches (so yes it is searching and sending at the same time) to see if there is another beacon sending nearby. If it does sense a beacon within around 5 or 6 meters away it will adjusted the cadence or "pulsing" so it doesn't overlap with the other beacon to make it easier on the searcher.
Black Diamond/Pieps claim to use a much harder glass to further protect the screen from damage compared to the older Pieps DSP Tour.
The only thing we really don't like about the new Pieps compared to the old one is the battery life display. The old Pieps DSP Tour and DSP's display battery life like all other beacons with a battery percentage, while the new Pieps Sport like its more advanced cousin the DSP Pro use a battery bare displaying 1/3, 2/3 or 3/3 full similar to most cell phones.
At $275 the Pieps Sport is one of the cheapest triple antenna beacons on the market, along with the Arva Evo3+($290) or the Ortovox Zoom+($300) and the BCA Tracker 2 ($335) but has the longest range and the best flagging feature of any of these beacons.
Comfort to Carry
We thought the Pieps DSP Sport came with a more comfortable harness system than average among beacons we tested that was relatively easy to use. For backcountry recreationalists who prefer to wear their beacon in a zippered pant pocket, we thought the Pieps Sport was average or many just below average in the comfort category. While we liked the new DSP Sport over the previous DSP Tour in almost every way, this was the exception, the new version is thicker and less contoured than its predecessor the older Yellow Tour and was less comfortable. We thought it was very comparable to the Ortovox Zoom+ and the Mammut Barryvox Element for comfort while carrying in a pocket.
The Pieps DSP Sport versus the Pieps DSP Pro
Both the Pieps DSP Sport and the Pieps SP Pro are both solid beacons with that share many of the same features and functions with a handful of differences. As you would guess, the Pro is geared toward more advanced users, ski guides and other backcountry professionals where the Sport is a more basic but still very capable beacon with all the features that most recreationalist want like a good range, quick processor and a above average flagging features. The Pro has all of this with a slightly longer range, an "unflagging" feature, a 400hr battery life, double that of the DSP Sport, a frequency check button and a scan feature for use in multiple burial situations. To sum it up most backcountry users will be very happy with the Pieps Sport and with the exceptions of guides or advanced trip leaders, don't think that most people will benefit or use the advanced settings and features of the DSP Pro and that will make it less worth it to spend the extra $100.
The Pieps DSP Sport is a solid beacon for most backcountry users with most of the features that people really want, but not a lot of extras. This makes the Sport a good beacon for everyone from fairly novice users to even more seasoned and experienced users. It isn't as basic as some of the most remedial beacons like the Ortovox Zoom+ or the Tracker 2, but also isn't that much more complicated and the Sport has a bunch more features. For the highest level of demanding user like, ski guides or other professionals the Sport will work, but they might want an even more advanced beacon like the Pieps DSP Pro, Arva Pro-W, Mammut Pulse Barryvox or Ortovox S1+.
The Pieps DSP Sport is a solid beacon for the vast majority of users out there from novice to expert. On the ends of the user spectrum it it isn't the most basic nor is it the most complex, but it is fast, and for a sub $300 beacon it has the longest range and has the best flagging feature for beacons in that price range.
The Pieps DSP Pro is the Top Pick award winner for its advanced design and technical features. The Pieps Freeride is the lightest and cheapest avalanche beacon.
— Ian Nicholson
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Most recent review: November 24, 2013
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