Product Review (April 2008) - Magellan
Maestro 4250 Portable GPS with Bluetooth

Magellan's new Maestro 4250 is the latest flagship GPS model being offered by the company. The 4250 offers a thin, elegant design that is completely mobile thanks to the built-in lithium-ion battery. The design features an easy to read anti-glare 4.3" (wide aspect ratio) WQVGA color touch screen and is preloaded with maps of the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada, with 6 million preprogrammed Points of Interest (POIs). Additional features include SayWhere™ text-to-speech, LIVE traffic report capability (with subscription) and an integrated Bluetooth® interface for hands-free phone calls with your Bluetooth® capable cell phone. Magellan has also teamed up with AAA (American Automobile Association) to provide the AAA TourBook™ guide information as part of the built-in database, so users can easily locate AAA approved restaurants, lodging and other services, complete with ratings and discounts. In addition, members can use the roadside assistance button to call for help in the event their vehicle is having trouble. A feature called SmartDetour™ automatically prompts the user to route around any sudden freeway traffic changes.

The Maestro 4250 is a compact unit measuring only 3.25" x 4.88" x 0.7" (H x W x D) and weighing less than 7 ounces. It can easily fit into a shirt pocket and the 1200mAH rechargeable lithium-ion battery gives it true portability lasting for several hours on a single charge. The unit features a WAAS/EGNOS-enabled, 20-channel SiRFstarIII chipset and an integrated multidirectional patch antenna for exceptional reception, even indoors in many cases. Signal sensitivity and the built-in high-sensitivity antenna results in fast position acquisition.

The Maestro 4250 comes with all the accessories needed to use the GPS in a vehicle. This includes the basic cradle with an adjustable mount, adhesive mounting disc, cigarette lighter adapter with FM antenna, AC power adapter, protective pouch, and user manual CDROM. The protective pouch comes in handy and keeps the unit from getting scratched up with daily handling when mounting and unmounting the unit. Magellan also sells a 2nd Car Kit designed to make it easy to transfer your Maestro GPS between different vehicles and includes the windshield mount, basic cradle, vehicle power adapter and adhesive disk for on-dash mounting. This saves from having to transfer all the accessories from vehicle to vehicle.

The Maestro 4250 includes a memory slot that accepts either SD or MMC memory cards. Vital data such as custom POIs and address/phone information can be backed up onto the memory card using the User Options menu and selecting Backup/Restore. The user will be asked to confirm before a backup or restore is initiated. Losing data can be a real pain, so this is a great feature. No memory card is included with the unit, but they are inexpensive. The unit gets its external power from the mini USB connector on the right side of the unit and can be charged from either the 120VAC adapter or the car charger provided with the GPS. The same USB interface allows the user to access the files when connected to a computer. The top right side of the unit has the power button. Pressing the button for 2 seconds will turn the unit on or off. Holding the button down for more than 5 seconds will reboot the unit. This may be required should the unit freeze during operation.

Live Traffic Reports
The car charger also has an FM plug that provides an antenna for the optional Live Traffic Report feature. Magellan provides a free 3-month service subscription to entice users with an easy way to avoid traffic (Requires activation). The integrated traffic receiver scans the FM band for traffic data and sends real-time incident reports to the screen with alerts for slow-downs, accidents, road closures, severe weather and more. FM signal strength for each of the frequencies can be monitored in the Traffic Status menu. The Maestro 4250 will automatically prompt the user to reroute when a quicker way is available. The user can select the specific traffic events to be notified with by selecting the alerts in the Incident Options menu under Traffic Options.

Traffic Notification
When a traffic condition is reported to the Maestro 4250, an icon appears in the lower right corner of the screen. Tapping the icon shows the Traffic Event List with all of the reported events listed in ascending order based on distance from the current GPS position. Only those alerts selected in the Incident Options menu will appear for the user. There is a traffic map icon shown on the bottom of the Traffic Event List that displays all of the traffic problems on a map for easy viewing. Since we are located near three major freeways, it is not uncommon to have many problems reported. In one case, 11 traffic events showed up on our screen.

While the Maestro 4250 features an integrated multidirectional GPS antenna patch, the top back of the GPS has an MCX input connector for an external antenna if no signal is available at the unit location. The left side of the unit does not have any interfaces, but does have a built-in microphone on the front for accepting verbal commands from the operator. The speaker is located on the back of the unit and provides Turn-by-Turn guidance announcing exit numbers and names of the streets as you navigate.

Say a Command
The Maestro 4250 has the unique ability to respond to voice commands. Users can start by saying "Magellan" and the unit prompts them to proceed with a request for additional information. Users can go home, find the nearest coffee shop, restaurant, gas station and ATM or get their current location. Users can say "Nearest Restaurant" or more specifically "Nearest Italian Restaurant" to find a particular ethnic food. The unit does a good job of recognizing the words, but you must speak clearly with minimal background noise. This is a great feature once you learn how to use it because there is no need for the user to press buttons.

The Maestro 4250 comes with a basic cradle that clips to the unit and attaches to an adjustable mount. The cradle has two small openings that slide over the mount flanges. Installation and removal is quick and easy with this design. The GPS can be removed without having to detach the suction cup from the windshield. Alternatively, the adhesive mounting disc can be attached to a surface such as your dash and then to the suction cup mount. The two axis mount design allows the unit to be moved into in a variety of positions for optimal screen access. Two knobs are used to loosen or tighten the horizontal and vertical joints. The vertical axis snaps into discrete positions. The design is rigid with the short arms and does not easily move around while the vehicle is moving.

Alternative Mounting
The Maestro 4250 comes with a basic cradle that attaches to the adjustable mount. The adjustable mount is designed to attach to a smooth surface such as the windshield or the included adhesive mounting disc. Unfortunately, some states such as California and Minnesota have laws in place that restrict the use of suction mounts on their windshields while operating motor vehicles. We found an aftermarket product that attaches to air vent and mates directly to the Maestro cradle. Since the Maestro units are lightweight, little stress is placed on the vent assembly. We have been using this for months and it works well.

The map can be displayed even if a route has not been determined. If a route is defined, the road that needs to be followed will appear in green with a blue arrow indicating the direction. The map screen has several buttons that give the user quick access to commonly used features. The upper left displays the current heading and the right side displays the signal strength. The "-" and "+" buttons are used to zoom in and out of the street map. There are a total of 23 zoom levels available, ranging from 100 feet to 1200 miles. The lower tab next to the menu button displays the current time and vehicle speed. When in route mode, the right information tab displays Remaining Time, Distance to go or the Estimated Arrival Time. Points of Interests such as gas stations and restaurants will also appear on the screen. In many cases, the Maestro database includes detailed information such as store hours and phone numbers. The speaker button allows the user to quickly set or mute the audio level.

Map Options
The 2D map gives the user a two-dimensional view of the map with the the top of the screen pointing in the direction of your heading or pointing North (user selectable). The 3D mode gives the user a three-dimensional view of the map with the top of the screen always in the direction of your heading. The TrueView mode gives users a 3D view of the upcoming maneuver. The SplitView mode divides the screen into a two dimensional view of the map screen along with a three dimensional view of the upcoming maneuver.

Current Location
Pressing the compass symbol in the upper left corner of the main map screen will take the user to the Current Location screen. The current street along with the past and upcoming cross streets are shown on the screen. The current latitude and longitude positions are displayed with the heading, altitude and speed of the vehicle. The time and date are also shown at the bottom of the screen. The user can select the Save button at any time to capture the location of the vehicle. The user can name the location and use it at a later date as a destination.

GPS Status
Pressing the signal strength icon in the upper right corner of the main map screen will display the GPS Status. Each satellite the unit is tracking will be displayed on the screen with the corresponding signal level. The total number of satellite being tracked along with the GPS fix (2D or 3D) is displayed in the lower left of the screen. This information is useful when trying to determine the signals being received by the unit. GPS positional data is updated approximately once every second. The satellites being used to determine the user's position are shown with green bars, while those that the Maestro 4250 are trying to lock onto are displayed with orange bars. No bar shown indicates the satellite is not being tracked with a signal. The longer the bars, the stronger the signal.

The Bluetooth function of the Maestro 4250 allows the user to make and receive phone calls using the unit's touchscreen with the on-screen keypad, address book, call history, or redial functions. One of the most powerful features of the Maestro 4250 is the ability to choose a Point of Interest (POI) and with a touch of a button, initiate a phone call to the POI. With over 6 million POIs, having the 4250 is like having portable Yellow Pages. This is especially useful when traveling on the road.

Main Menu
The main menu consists of six icons that include Show Map, Enter Address, Points of Interest (POI), Trip Planner, Exit POI's and User Options. The lower icons are for navigating Home, AAA Roadside Assistance, and Cell Phone options. As part of the POI's, the Maestro 4250 includes AAA's integrated travel information from their TourBook. There are 4.5 million points of interest (POI), making it easy to find gas stations, restaurants, ATMs, airports, parks and a whole lot more. Users can take advantage of the smart location search by name, category and region. Pressing the Show Map icon on the screen will display the current position regardless of whether a route has been mapped.

Magellan's QuickSpell™ is a powerful database driven entry system that automatically sorts, searches, and checks the spelling of entered names, thereby minimizing the number of keystrokes required by the user. Only valid name options will appear on the screen based on the region selected. Once the unit has determined the matching names for a given area, only the appropriate keys on the screen will be enabled. The fewer the letters entered, the more possible names to choose from. For example, finding Los Angeles only requires the first three letters "LOS", a space and the "A" for the built-in database to determine what city you are entering. The unit automatically displays the six possible matches. The last five are shown on the screen with "LOS ANGELES, CA" as the last possible match. Users can select OK at any time to get the possible matches. Obviously, the more letters entered the easier it is to match the final name. The process is very simple and time efficient when using the GPS.

Cell Phone Setup
The Maestro 4250 also has Bluetooth built-in and allows calls to be made or received using a compatible cell phone. We linked our Motorola RAZR V3m to the unit without any issues. The Maestro has a huge database of phone numbers associated with the POI's (Points of Interests) and making the use of these numbers even easier once the Bluetooth is active. Searching for a restaurant or other establishment and calling it only requires clicking the number on the screen. It is not totally hands-free, but it is a whole lot easier to make a call while on the road. Users should always keep their attention on the road and have a passenger make phone calls when needed. Emergency AAA roadside assistance is even easier with dedicated buttons for quick access to phone numbers. No longer do you need to find the number on the back of the AAA card since this information can be stored ahead of time in the unit for use in case of an emergency.

System Settings
Selecting the System Settings lets the user choose Volume, screen Brightness, Power setting, Language, Time Zone, and Units. The signal icon on the screen will take the user to the GPS status screen. Each satellite the unit is tracking will be displayed on the screen with the signal level. The total number of satellite being tracked along with the GPS fix (2D or 3D) is displayed in the lower left of the screen. This information is useful when trying to determine the signals being received by the unit. GPS positional data is updated approximately once every second. Up to 12 satellites can be tracked at any given time. The second screen provides Diagnostics for the touchscreen, audio and video as well as Product Information (Product info, serial number, firmware and hardware versions).

The Magellan Maestro 4250 is one of the best GPS unit we have ever reviewed. The unit is powerful and easy to operate with an intuitive user interface. The unit is so sensitive that it has no problem acquiring a reasonably good (3D) signal in the house or in the garage. I have never had a problem with reception except for tunnels and other large structures. I can't say that for all GPS units that come our way.

The larger 4.3" screen is easy to read and Magellan has made excellent use of the area. The auto night view (based on time of day) adjusts the screen color and contrast for easy night viewing. The SmartDetour™ feature built into the Maestro was smart enough to know when we encountered heavy stop-and-go freeway traffic on major roadways. This feature helped determine if an alternate route was available and gave us options to get to our destination. This along with the realtime Traffic Notification makes this a state-of-the-art GPS.

The Maestro is small, yet the SayWhere™ text-to-speech commands are very intelligible through the small speaker located on the back of the unit. It actually reflects off the surface that it is mounted on and projects sound well in the vehicle. The battery life is limited to a few hours depending on how the unit is used (screen brightness), so it is important to keep the car power adapter connected at all times. The AC power adapter can also come in handy when a charge is needed and the user is not in a vehicle.

An address can be inputted into the Maestro by entering the city, zip code or previous city entered. Users can also quickly route themselves to an intersection by entering the city and street names. Once the unit is up and running, the user simply selects a new address or chooses from the existing address database previously saved into the unit. The Select Destination screen lets the user choose from Select Address, Address Book, Points of Interest, or an Intersection. If the Select Address is chosen, the user can enter the city, state or previous city, then enter the address of the destination. The user is then prompted with the Route Method which includes Shortest Time, Shortest Distance, Least Use of Freeways or Most Use of Freeways. There is also an option to Avoid Toll Roads. We almost always picked Shortest Time and received quick and accurate information. Selecting the Map icon displays a map with your current position. The Home icon determines the route to the defined home location, such as your place of residence or other common destinations.

The Magellan Maestro 4250 is an easy to use GPS that offers a large number of built-in maps, POIs, Bluetooth, and the integrated AAA TourBook® guide information and is certainly more powerful than the sum of its parts. Key features also include Magellan's SayWhere™ text-to-speech and LIVE traffic report capability. The Bluetooth feature allows users to operate their cell phones virtually hands free. The Maestro 4250 comes with a one year warranty. As a special bonus, AAA members can get an additional year of warranty added to the manufacturer's one year warranty by registering their GPS unit within 60 days of purchase.

- Kevin Nakano

OneCall: Your Home Theater, Digital Camera, and HDTV Experts

Review - At a Glance

Magellan - Maestro 4250 Portable GPS with Bluetooth


  • Voice command: Voice Command & Control enables hands-free operation.
  • Sophisticated and simple: Amazingly easy-to-use, route to your destination in seconds without even needing to read the instructions.
  • 4.5" WQVGA color touch screen: The large touch screen shows your position, Points of Interest, route, ETA and more on the interactive map.
  • Hands-free phone calls: Bluetooth® wireless technology and built-in microphone enable you to make calls using your Bluetooth-enabled mobile phone.
  • LIVE traffic capability: Integrated traffic receiver sends real-time incident reports to the screen with alerts for slow-downs, accidents, road closures, severe weather and more. Maestro automatically prompts you to reroute when a quicker way is available. A FREE 3-month service subscription makes it easy to avoid traffic. (Requires activation. Fees apply after introductory period.)
  • AAA TourBook™: Built-in guide gives you instant access to AAA approved and rated lodging and restaurants, recommended attractions, discount locations and roadside assistance. *
  • Preloaded North American maps: Built-in maps enable you to travel all 50 United States, Puerto Rico and Canada.
  • 6 million Points of Interest: Preprogrammed POIs make it easy to find gas stations, restaurants, ATMs, coffee and more. Search by name or category near your position or near any city.
  • Interactive POI icons: Touch an onscreen icon for a nearby destination to see name, address, phone number (when available), and get an instant route.
  • QuickSpell™: Exclusive auto-complete feature makes it easy to enter destinations with just a few touches of the screen and even corrects spelling.
  • SmartDetour™: Automatically prompts you to route around sudden slow freeway traffic.
  • Bird's-eye 3D view: Clearly see your surroundings in 2D or 3D. Choose between Map View, TrueView™ 3D split screen, and Maneuver List.
  • SiRFstarIII™: Integrated chipset provides the fastest GPS position acquisition in the industry.
  • Rechargeable battery: Navigate for up to 4 hours when power is unavailable.
  • Automatic reroute: Never miss a turn and quickly get back on track whenever you take a detour.
  • Customizable route method: Select Fastest Time, Shortest Distance, Least or Most Use of Freeways, and Avoid Toll Roads.
  • Address book: Create and store personal Points of Interest for easy reoccurring trips.
  • Auto night view: Adjusts color and contrast for easy night viewing.
  • SD-card compatibility: Back up your address book.

    * AAA discounts and roadside assistance require AAA membership


  • Ultra-thin Pocket Size
  • Base Map Preloaded - 50 United States, Canada and Puerto Rico
  • Size: 4.88" (L) x 0.7" (W) x 3.25" (H)
  • Weight: 6.48 ounces
  • Display: 4.3" diagonal WQVGA 64k colors, anti-glare, touchscreen display
  • Antenna: Integrated multidirectional patch


  • Receiver: 20 channels, WAAS/EGNOS enabled - SiRFstarIII
  • Accuracy: 3 to 5 meters (10 - 16 feet) - WAAS/EGNOS, < 7 meters (15 feet) - GPS only


  • Source: Li-ion rechargeable 1200 MA, 12VDC adapter
  • Battery Life Up to 4 hours (assuming lowest screen brightness)

Technical support available Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. PST
Phone: 800-707-9971 or 909-394-5000 (Outside North America)
You may also reach technical support by fax: 909-394-7073

Source: Manufacturer Supplied
MSRP: $499.99

Magellan Maestro 4250 User's Manual


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