Review (August 2005) - Magellan
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- Kevin Nakano
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RoadMate 760 User's Manual
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