I was thinking about the gadgets to buy this year and one of them in my list is a portable GPS systems. Suddenly these are under $500. Again I was trying to check good price on one of these, but then we suddenly planned to go to Disneyland. So I quickly bought Magellan Roadmate 360 in Costco for $499. (These days I usually buy most electronics from Costco as most of the retailers switched to no returns of electronics or returns with a restocking fee. My theory is in case there are problems Costco has very good return policy and the prices are usually very good. In fact, I have not found a better price for this as of December 28, 2005). A comparable price can be found on Amazon. I have a car and a van and they both do not have a navigation system. Magellan Roadmate 360 is compact enough for me to be able to use on both.
I used Magellan Roadmate 360 to test on a short local trip to my son’s chess tournament in Fremont(about 15 miles from my home). I had the printout from the flyer just in case the navigation system did not work. We turned it on and entered the destination address and it was very smooth and exact from the direction I was approaching. We also tested the re-calculate route function of the Magellan Roadmate 360 Navigator while coming to the home. If you miss a turn, basically the system recalculates the route to the destination. It is impressive that the system knows about all the exit ramps and when exactly the next turn comes. (I have watched before how these systems work in a factory-installed systems but they charge over 2000 last time I checked so I thought my system would not be so capable). I am pleasantly surprised with this functionality.
The only way Magellan Roadmate 360 works is either through a AC adapter or a Car adapter. ( I would have liked it to work on a battery but this is a minor issue ). Actually I found it a bit awkward to connect to the Adapter in my van.
Then I used it for my big trip to LA. We needed to find my hotel, Disneyland and three other places near Anaheim. The way I did this is to add all the addresses to the system and select the first one we wanted to go. Even though the route is familiar( We went to Disneyland last year too), it is fun with the Navigation system. The system also has a “Select Point of Interest” function to find something of interest with a city name. We do not have to scramble for looking up the address of Disneyland. (I just wonder if they need or had an address).
My kid also suddenly has some interest in where we are with respect to our destination.
One reason is it clearly shows the current remaining distance to the next turn and the destination. Even though the highway has signs occasionally to see how much more you need to drive it is definitely more interesting to watch it on our navigation system.
When we are entering the addresses, the system also tries to figure out what we are entering by allowing only remaining letters. For example if you are trying to enter “Disneyland” after entering “Dis” it would allow only ‘N’ and characters that complete to a valid name in this database. I guess if you have a “Point of interest” which is not in its database you will need to figure out the address and enter it. It shows icons for gas, hotel and restaurant icons on the way on the screen.
One Annoyance I have found is with the extra details I do not need. For example, this system by default will try to say you need to continue on the current freeway when the freeway meets another freeway. This is a bit unexpected for me because most trip kits or directions would not mention the continue on the same freeway. But Once I got used to this, I was able to ignore these.
Magellan Roadmate 360 came with a USB cable so I am assuming it allows to some kind of downloads to get the updated map.
I also think it has a primary storage space like a hard disk and secondary storage space because it picked CA,NV,AR as the primary region.
In summary, the good stuff is
- Magellan Roadmate 360 is a cheap, useful navigation system with an accuracy
- Magellan Roadmate 360 has automatic “recalculate route” function in case you departed from your expected turn.
- Roadmate 360 has an useful points of interest database. It claims to have about 2 million points of interest.
- Roadmate 360 remembers the destinations you already entered. This is useful in a trip because you might be going back and forth from the hotel you stay to different places.
- Roadmate 360 continuously updates the distance and approximate time left for your destination.
In my opinion, the following are drawbacks for Magellan Roadmate 360 system.
I think the technology is evolving and these systems could come with bigger displays and more functionality like showing places nearby as we are passing. But if you are in the habit printing lot of directions from yahoo/google, then you can make use of this. I would rate this a four out of possible five(five is the highest). It would definitely help you finding directions once you got used to it.
- Screen size is a little bit small.
- I guess again because of this, Magellan Roadmate 360 can only show limited amounts of information. For example the icons to show a restaurant would not have the name unless you click on it. (Actually when you click on it thinks you want to go there.)
- The user interface is somewhat not very friendly. For example the system expects the street name only. (For an address like 3050 imperial hwy, it expects us to enter ‘imperial’ and does not know that we are trying to enter highway and does not give a useful error message)
- The startup seems to take around a minute and it seems to need to reinitialize the map every time you switched it off and turned it on.
Here are some other reviews on the net for Magellan Roadmate 360.
- PC Magazine review for Magellan Roadmate 360
- eBay Reviews for Magellan Roadmate 360
- Amazon Magellan Roadmate 360 product page
- GPS Store review page for Magellan Roadmate 360 and other GPS devices
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