Summary: After researching the various handheld options available for adding weather and current map features I decided on the 696. I am not disappointed with my decision in the least. What a powerful tool for awareness. Flying IFR with this added to the Garmin 430W is a treat. Having all the approach plates and procedures at the push of a button is great. It even shows the airplane position on the approach plate.
Summary: Let me start by saying that I'm prejudiced. I've been flying with a Garmin 296 for about 4 years, and another Garmin before that. And I've flown planes with a Garmin 430 in the panel. So when the 696 came out, I knew it was just a matter of time. A good deal on ebay proved impossible to pass up, and here I am. The 696 is the logical extension of its predecessors.
Summary: I just purchased a plane in November of last year and I needed a GPS for it but was on a tight budget. I already knew about Garmin GPS's and that the portable GPS 696 was the cadillac of GPS's without having to pay for a full install of a glass panel. I really love it and it will help me feel at least safer because it has a lot of features such as airport diagrams and XM weather should I decide to pay a subscription for weather.
Summary: I have a 696 in the cockpit on both our corp aircraft. I like the detailed weather on the 696 and ease of operation and learning to use it. Garmin has all user-friendly products. I did try the G796 for a week and did NOT like it, except for the detailed enroute charts. On the G796, only 4 data fields can be displayed on the home page, one in each corner. The G696, you can have 12 data fields displayed. Much better.