Product Review (August 2005) - Magellan
RoadMate 760 Portable GPS Unit

Today's portable GPS designs have more power than ever thanks to high-resolution touchscreen displays, hard drive-based storage, sophisticated user interfaces and built-in voice commands. Magellan's new RoadMate 760 is a perfect example of just how well such a product can be executed and how much portable units have evolved over the years. The RoadMate 760 is a full-featured GPS that has a 20GB hard drive that provides access to a comprehensive detailed mapping database of the lower 48 states, as well as Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Canada. The large database includes virtually all cities, street names and points of interests. European maps are already pre-loaded on the large drive, but can be unlocked for a fee to be used. The 760 is so simple to operate that we didn't even have to consult the owner's manual to get started with our navigation.

The unit takes about 20 seconds to fully boot up from a cold start after the power button on the left side is pressed. Once the unit completes initialization, the user is prompted with a selection of three user preferences (USER 1, USER 2 or USER 3). This allows multiple users to select preferences and store up to 200 personal or business destinations per user. The RoadMate 760 incorporates Magellan's SayWhere™ text-to-speech technology designed to provide the user complete turn-by-turn voice guidance. The 760 also includes the SmartDetour™ feature that automatically reroutes around congested freeway or city traffic. The turn-by-turn voice and visual instructions with the text itinerary were added features making navigating easier. Users can beam address data from their PDA or Smartphone (supports most Pocket PC 2002/2003, and Palm operating systems) using the built-in infrared interface.

Installation
The RoadMate 760 is an ergonomic design with rounded contours and large buttons on the face. These buttons illuminate at night and are easy to read with the backlight. The built-in light sensor adjusts the LCD display brightness for maximum readability in various lighting conditions. The unit is designed to dock onto a mounting plate that mates to the gooseneck. The mounting plate has both the power interface for the lighter adapter and USB connector for transferring data between the unit and PC.

The windshield mount included with the 760 is a great design that has a quick release suction cup which works with a flip of a lever. The flexible gooseneck allows the unit to be positioned at virtually any angle. We prefer to have it lean against the dash to prevent it from vibrating while driving. The cradle that attaches to the GPS unit fits in a slotted channel allowing the unit to be easily released. This gives the user the option of leaving the windshield mount in place while removing the main GPS unit. However, both are easily removed.

Destination
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. We almost always picked Shortest Time and received quick and accurate information. The upper left corner has icons for Map and Home. 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.

QuickSpell™
A feature we really enjoyed was the Magellan's QuickSpell™ system that automatically sorts, searches, and checks the spelling of street names, thereby minimizing the number of keystrokes and accelerating the overall data entry process. The system automatically matches the entered letters to the available destinations in the database. Once the unit has determined the matching names, a list appears on the screen and the user picks the desired city or street using the touchscreen. The fewer the letters entered, the more possible names to choose from, so the user must enter enough letters to narrow down the selection. For example, finding Honolulu only requires the first five letters for the built-in database to determine what city you are entering. The process is very simple and the time saved becomes significant as the user becomes more proficient with the interface. When navigating, the user can press the View button and change the view from TrueView 3D (displays actual road layout for upcoming turns) to Map View (super bright, high-resolution display screen with bold and easy-to read icons and text) or to the Maneuver List (details when and where to expect turns along the route).

The rear of the unit has a speaker for voice commands. This speaker is large enough to provide good audio quality from the voice generator. This is important because I have heard other units that have small speakers and do not have the clarity found on the 760. A flip-out panel on the rear side gives the user access to a compact flash slot for additional storage. The antenna pivots and can be positioned to improve reception. It can also be removed when fully deployed. In fact, the antenna sometimes disconnects from the connector resulting in a bad signal if the user is not aware of this, so care must be taken when moving the antenna into position. This happened to us on more than one occasion. The volume control and repeat button are located on the top of the unit towards the rear.

Main Screen
The main navigation screen has a wealth of information for the user. Users can quickly see the street they are driving on as it is displayed over the map with a semitransparent overlay. Similarly, the name of the upcoming street is located on the bottom of the map with a small arrow to the left, indicating the direction needed for the upcoming turn. The distance to the upcoming street is displayed on the bottom left next to the direction (N, NE, E, SE, S, SW, W and NW) indicator. The color of the direction indicator is dependent on the signal strength (Blue=Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS), Green=Good, Yellow=weak and Red=poor) being received by the unit. The bottom center of the screen shows the estimated time of arrival with the red arrow indicating the absolute direction of the destination. Finally, the distance from the destination is also displayed in the lower right corner. We liked the logical layout of the main navigation screen and it quickly became easy for us to use.

Additional icons on the screen such as the fork/knife indicate a place for food. Touching the icon on the display pops up a window with the business information comprising of the address and phone number. Local restaurants in the vicinity are also accessible in the database and can be searched by name or by cuisine type. Several other types of icons are also available.

On the Road
We recently took the RoadMate 760 to Hawaii and used it extensively on both Oahu and Kauai. The densely populated Honolulu area is a difficult place to drive even for us Los Angeles folks who are accustomed to heavy traffic. Tight, one-way streets, which are common in Honolulu make it even more difficult to navigate. However, the RoadMate 760 had no problem getting us to the destination with the most efficient route.

A recent trip to Florida was a great excuse to bring out the RoadMate 760. The ability for us to quickly find a destination when traveling in unfamiliar areas is a huge benefit, especially when stuck in heavy traffic. As with all GPS systems, new roads may have not found their way into the current mapping database. We encountered this during our travel. In such cases the position arrow on the screen moves on uncharted real estate. Although it was quite uncommon during our two month review of the unit, it does appear to happen from time to time.

The SmartDetour™ feature built into the 760 was intelligent enough to know when we encountered heavy stop-and-go freeway traffic. This feature will determine if an alternate route is available and can be disabled if desired. In addition, in heavy city traffic, the Detour on the Options menu allows the user to manually re-route around the traffic jam.

Conclusion
The Magellan RoadMate 760 sets a new standard for portable GPS designs. The ease of use and number of features found in the 760 makes it very attractive for serious travelers. The intelligible voice commands were easy to understand and helped guide us to our destination with little need to watch the display. Entering a new address or recalling an existing one is simple with the intuitive user interface. The high resolution color touchscreen is the perfect front-end to this design. The price is a bit steep for many, but if performance is what you desire on the road, the 760 certainly delivers it.

- Kevin Nakano






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Review - At a Glance


Magellan - RoadMate 760 Portable GPS Unit

Specifications

Product Number:980652-12
Map Sofware:Ready to use detailed North American map loaded on HDD Pre-loaded European maps may be unlocked for an additional fee. Click here for more information.
Plug-n-Play:Seamless map built-in and ready to use.
Map Coverage:North America includes 48 contiguous United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and all of Canada. Europe (available for additional fee).
User Interface:Touch Screen or dynamic keypad input.
Display:High Resolution TFT LCD full color display automatically adjusts to lighting changes
Display Size (H/W):2.25" x 3.0"
5,71 x 7,62 cm
Route Calculator:Choose from four different route methods: Shortest Time, Shortest Distance, Least Use of Freeways, Most use of Freeways.
Turn-by-Turn Navigation:TrueView® 3D screen shows upcoming turn while voice prompt politely gives turn-by-turn guidance in 11 languages (French, UK and US English, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish).
Route Recalculation:Automatically calculates new route when car deviates from route.
Multi-Destination Routing:Create and save multi-destination trips. Use route optimization to determine the quickest way between stops or choose your own order.
Track Progress on Map:Dynamically tracks progress on the onscreen map.
QuickSpell® Technology:Simplifies data entry by pre-determining letters when spelling street and city names.
Address Book:Holds 200 addresses per user — up to 600 total.
Points-of-Interest:Almost 7 million points of interest.
Weight & Dimensions:13 oz./.81 lb., 3.25 H x 6.5 W x 2.0 D in.
368,5 g, 8,26 h x 16,51 l x 5,1 p (cm).
Portable:True plug-n-play in any region
Mapping Data:Provided by NAVTEQ®

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: $1099

RoadMate 760 User's Manual

URL: www.magellangps.com/

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