One of the problems that the old school beacon manufacturers made a big deal of back in the day was the potential for trouble with avalanche transceivers if they were dependent upon software to operate. The reason was simple. If the workings of the device are software dependent, and we all know how difficult it is to create programs without any bugs, what happens to the reliability of a life saving device when the operating system fails?
In short, its ability to save a life is (potentially) nullified. It may take more brains to operate an old fashioned analog beacon, but the simplicity of how the signal is generated and received tends to make it more reliable. Of course, that is tempered with the unreliability of the operator to actually know how to use it in a real emergency.
You may recall that Backcountry Access took longer than expected to deliver their 3-antenna version of their revolutionary Tracker DTS avalanche transceiver. Among other reasons was the goal to make a beacon that didn’t need to be constantly updated with new software to repair inherent flaws in the software. BCA took at least an extra year to try to flush out any potential problems before pronouncing Tracker 2 ready for release.
Alas, even the best laid plans can come undone when software is one of the foundations. BCA recently learned of a potentially fatal flaw in their beacons and has announced the release of the 4th version of firmware for Tracker 2. If you own one, I’d keep a watchful eye on it and do you best to upgrade as soon as you can.
The gory details of what failed with Tracker 2 version 3 here.