“ Our price is low and we sell volume,” says Darren Pritchard, Can-adian sales manager for Outback Guidance when talking about the company’s product line. In addition, he adds the company believes the majority of Prairie farmers are looking for guidance products that offer simple-to-use, economical and mid-range features; so many of Outback’s products were developed to cater directly to that market segment.
But don’t make the mistake of thinking you can’t get high-end options if you want them. Outback sells guidance systems capable of accuracy levels right up to dual-frequency RTK, along with accommodating precision autosteer and boom section control. However, it does not yet offer a variable rate (VRT)- compatible system. “We do not do variable rate today,” says Pritchard, “We just haven’t seen the market to be that big.”
If you’ll be in the market for a VRT system for the 2012 season, though, don’t rule out this company just yet. “We have two or three new products in the works that are getting very close (to release), probably mid summer or September.” continues Pritchard. “We’ve told farmers we’re working on variable rate for the S3.” Although, he won’t confirm if VRT is among those new products to be unveiled later this year.
Outback’s line of guidance equipment starts at the S-Lite model. With a retail price of US$895, it’s an entry-level system, providing a steering guide for an operator through a half-moon light arrangement for manual steering. As an additional function, it can be linked to a combine yield monitor to provide GPS input. It also has the ability to handle auto boom shut off, providing section control for sprayers or planters; but it doesn’t offer mapping or autosteer capability.
The S-Lite, like all Outback products, uses a no-cost WAAS signal. “Farmers like that,” says Pritchard. “They don’t have to pay $600, $800 or $1,200 a year for subscription fees.”
“The Sts is our next step up,” he says. “Now you have the whole mapping system.” Along with including all the features of the S-Lite, the Sts has a seven- inch touch screen monitor and is autosteer capable when paired with the hydraulic eDriveTC (eDriveTC is a US$3,990 option). It is also compatible with Outback’s new eDriveVSi autosteer package for swathers.
Job data from the Sts can be transferred via a USB port. Free compatible software allowing files from the Sts to be used on an office computer can be downloaded directly from the Outback website. “All our software (called Field Notes) is free on the website,” says Pritchard. Suggested retail for the Sts is US$2,095.
The company had been offering reconditioned models at a lower price as an alternative to buying new, but they are no longer available. “For a while we did have some refurbished Sts S3s and some S2s,” explains Pritchard. “It was all stuff people were trading in for the next model, so that stuff flew off the shelves and everything we sell today is new.”
At the top end of the guidance product line is the S3. It sells for US$3,990 and offers accuracy up to single or dual-frequency RTK with the appropriate antenna. Farmers looking for high-level accuracy will need to opt for the S3 over the Sts.
The S3 features a larger, 8.4- inch touch-screen monitor. With one gigabyte of RAM, it has double the memory capacity of the Sts. And like the Sts, it only offers data transfer through a USB port. Neither have wireless data transfer capability, so far.
The S3 is the only model compatible with Outback’s premium eDriveX autosteer system, which offers high accuracy, sub-inch repeatability. eDriveX retails for US$7,695. It includes the new eTurn option which allows for automated headland turns. “We’re the first aftermarket company to come out with the headland turn feature,” says Pritchard. With the push of a button, it turns the tractor (or other machine) and sets it back on the next pass, but it doesn’t automatically raise or lower an implement.
Pritchard says Outback’s autosteer kits are compatible with most late-model machines and can be quickly installed. “All of our autosteer kits are meant to be farmer installed.”
“All of our products have a one-year exchange warranty,” he adds. “And we pay the shipping.” Warranties can be extended by two years for $200 to $500, depending on the product. That includes continuing the full replacement guarantee.
Outback also offers direct online purchasing through its website, www.outbackguidance.com. Farmers can check prices and order systems or parts directly. “We ship out of Winnipeg,” says Pritchard, so it shouldn’t take long to get orders delivered.
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