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Review: Magellan Roadmate GPS for iPhone

A little late to the game, but a welcome addition to the iPhone is the Magellan Roadmate 2010 North America GPS app. Some of the features of the Magellan include spoken street names, highway lane assistance to let you know which lane to be in before a turn comes up, a pedestrian mode for taking it with you while walking, and iPod controls for changing your music without exiting the app, just to name a few.

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A little late to the game, but a welcome addition to the iPhone is the Magellan Roadmate 2010 North America GPS app. Some of the features of the Magellan include spoken street names, highway lane assistance to let you know which lane to be in before a turn comes up, a pedestrian mode for taking it with you while walking, and iPod controls for changing your music without exiting the app, just to name a few.

Easy to Navigate

It's quick and easy to get going. Press MENU, Click ADDRESS, and then enter your specific address.  Then keyboard entry is excellent and quickly predicts what you are trying to enter and provides a selection to choose from.

Once you have done that, you are presented with an overview screen which shows your routing preferences and a large GO button to begin.

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Once you have done that, you are presented with an overview screen which shows your routing preferences and a large GO button to begin.

Click on it, or you can click on a few of the objects to change various options, such as clicking on the CAR to switch to pedestrian mode.  From this screen you can also choose to view the map or see the turn by turns listed in text, and if you don't like what you see, you can click the Routing Options and it will show you possible variations, such as Fastest Time, Shortest Distance, Most & Least use of highways.  You can even do a trip simulation.

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Click on it, or you can click on a few of the objects to change various options, such as clicking on the CAR to switch to pedestrian mode.  From this screen you can also choose to view the map or see the turn by turns listed in text, and if you don't like what you see, you can click the Routing Options and it will show you possible variations, such as Fastest Time, Shortest Distance, Most & Least use of highways.  You can even do a trip simulation.

It's pretty straightforward and easy to use.  You can navigate to intersections, contacts from your address book, and over 6 million points of interest. 

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It's pretty straightforward and easy to use.  You can navigate to intersections, contacts from your address book, and over 6 million points of interest. 

You can use the map in horizontal or vertical orientation, which ever you prefer. It doesn't add any additional items to the heads up display so you aren't losing anything by choosing one over the other. It still shows the next turns, distance, speed, etc. 

POI

The points of interest are done quite well, broken down into categories. If I want to get to a Gas Station, I click POI -> Gas Station and then it presents me with different companies, not just what stations are  close to me; choose Show All, and it shows them in order of proximity.  Since it's category based, if I prefer 'BP' I can choose it and it will show me all of the 'BP' stations close to me.  The same is true for Restaurants and other POIs. It presents you with a list of categories and you can choose from there, instead of simply listing with proximity. 

My handheld TomTom unit only shows me whats near and I hate that. What if I want Barbecue and I'm willing to drive 30 miles for it? Magellan lets me do this.

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My handheld TomTom unit only shows me whats near and I hate that. What if I want Barbecue and I'm willing to drive 30 miles for it? Magellan lets me do this.

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My handheld TomTom unit only shows me whats near and I hate that. What if I want Barbecue and I'm willing to drive 30 miles for it? Magellan lets me do this.

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My handheld TomTom unit only shows me whats near and I hate that. What if I want Barbecue and I'm willing to drive 30 miles for it? Magellan lets me do this.

If the phone number is in the Magellan database you can also press the phone icon and quickly call the establishment. I think this is a very basic feature for a phone integrated GPS, but alas, not all GPS apps implement dialing. The problem with this though is it takes you out of the GPS app due to Apple's current policy of prohibiting background apps.  Luckily, when you return to Magellan, it prompts you and asks if you would like to continue to your last destination.

Text To Speech:

In my North American version I had the choice of three TTS Spoken street name voices.   Susan & Dave speak English, and Bernard speaks French. If you don't want TTS, then you have a wider selection of voices that are pre-recorded and sound more natural. I typically stick with TTS voices, since I do prefer to hear the name of the street, instead of 'turn right here'. 

One Touch

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One Touch

A nice feature is the One Touch button. This is simply a shortcut menu for places you have chosen to bookmark. It already marks some by default, such as your HOME.  On this screen you you can assign up to 24 POIs, previous destinations, etc.  It's definitely a time saver and a welcome feature. This screen alone adds quite a bit of polish to the app.  I have the Golf POI on my screen which allow me to press this button and always be able to find the closest courses and driving ranges to me. Pretty nifty!

Map

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Map

The most important feature of a GPS is the map. If the roads aren't there, the computer  won't know how to navigate you. The Magellan Roadmate uses the latest Navteq maps with detailed maps and landmarks. The map itself isn't as aesthetically pleasing to the eye as some of the competitors, but it is certainly functional.

The Roadmate app offers not only a car mode, but it can also route you as a pedestrian in it's 'pedestrian mode' so you can keep track of your position on the map when on foot.  The pedestrian mode will route you on walkable streets, opposed to car mode which might take you on the highway.

Magellan touts 3D Landmarks, but during my testing I didn't encounter any that popped up. This could be due to the fact that I live in a rural area. What did work was the Lane Assist, which I think is pretty mandatory in any current GPS. Essentially, as you come up to an interchange on the highway, it show you a graphical representation int he form of an exit sign that points you into the correct lane to continue on your route. I only noticed a hiccup here and there, but overall it was very accurate. This feature adds quite a but of value to the app, and typically is only seen on higher priced stand-alone models

Music Player

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Music Player

Since your iPhone is also an iPod, it's convenient to be able to listen to your music or podcasts while you are navigating. As you drive, the Roadmate offers instructions and  pauses the iPod to tells you what the next direction is. Overall this works pretty well, but if you are driving through a town with turns every few seconds,  it quickly gets annoying by starting and stopping the music. It would be nice if you could listen to the iPod and just rely on the screen for directions, but I didn't see a way around this. It's fine for interstate driving, or when you are on a route that the turns are far apart that it won't become bothersome. Even though it is sometimes annoying, I'm glad to see it included instead of omitted. I'd actually like to see an option to let it voice over the music, or as I mentioned before,  allow me to simply listen to my music uninterrupted and simply rely on the map.

iPod Touch Compatibility:

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iPod Touch Compatibility:

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iPod Touch Compatibility:

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iPod Touch Compatibility:

If you don't have an iPhone, you may not be out of luck. You can use the 2nd gen iPod Touch with Magellan's Premium Car kit. I haven't tested this, but it might be a solution for those that only have the Touch, and want to turn it into a GPS while in your car.  Even with this option, you will still be limiting what the app can do, such as calling POIs. I'd recommend sticking to an external unit instead of having to purchase the $79 app and the car kit. 

Final Thoughts:

Overall,  the Magellan Roadmate is a welcome addition into the iPhone GPS game. Notably, it has the legendary Magellan name and quality behind it. For a late entry into the iPhone GPS game, Magellan comes out swinging and proves to be a high quality option for adding turn-by-turn directions to your iPhone. Highly recommended.

Pros:

  • Built-in Lane Assist
  • Intuitive text entry
  • Navteq Maps with over 6million Points of Interest

Cons:

  • Can be annoying when listening to iPod
  • Price is competitive, but high.
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Product: Magellan Roadmate 2010 North america

Price: $79.99 USD