‘The short report is that itís not bad, has good signal masking but one quirk in search mode which lets it down a bit. The 3+ costs less than the Tracker 2, Mammut Pulse or Pieps DSP but overall I didnít think offered better value for money.’
I have changed my opinion a bit, more to do with a general shift in my opinion about transceiver use than anything else but also the 3+ performed better than the original test. My new findings are below.
In use the 3+ was pretty much as I remembered it. Easy to search with, a good screen and simple one button layout. The erratic behaviour that I marked it down for in the original test was detectable but much less pronounced than in my original tests. This could be due to a change in transceiver or in location, because I changed both I can’t be sure. I will retest this 2nd transceiver in the original location soon and if the problem is worse again, will find a better testing site. Occasionally the 3+ had to change it’s sensitivity to re-aquire a lost signal around 16m but it was the exception rather than the norm. Also this problem was only really apparent if you stood still as it happened, if you keep moving forward then the problem (which is probably realistic) then the problem corrects itself very quickly. In hindsight I was probably over critical of the 3+ because of this behaviour (which was much worse on the original test) and now think it is a nice transceiver to use. The directional arrows do still change from left to right without settling in the middle even with very small and slow changes in direction, but this is more of an annoyance than a problem of use in the field (more on this later). The distance information did not decrease very evenly, none of the transceivers are perfect on this feature but thought that the 3+ over estimated the distance (by up to a factor of 2) till around the 10m mark then suddenly dropped the distance very quickly.
I thought in the last pinpoint stage of searching that the 3+ graphics were really good and I prefer the lack of directional information in in the last few metres of search. There is a debate on this point but overall I think it’s better to remove the lights to trigger a change in search tactics than to leave them on. The digital masking works well, to unmask a signal you have to exit search mode and then re enter, rather than push a button, but this does keep the one button layout very clean. The unit is a nice slim shape, as is the harness so it’s comfortable and unobtrusive to wear. The only problem I had with it’s physical design was the location of the speaker hole just below the mark button, when holding the transceiver I found that my thumb naturally sat in this position and blocked out the sound, maybe that’s just me.
Overall the Ortovox 3+ is a good transceiver, aimed at the same type of user as the Tracker 2. It offers digital masking which the Tracker 2 does not (this was a concious decision by BCA who think it over complicated the search and is rarely needed) but otherwise is very similar in use. I think that the Tracker 2 does process the information more quickly than the 3+ so is quicker to update itself, but the 3+ offers digital masking and costs just slightly less. Both very good transceivers for recreational skiers.