GPS devices have been around for a long time. For most of that time they have been for outdoors people. With the RoadMate series of GPS devices by Magellan, the road warrior now has a GPS made just for them.
- Turn-by-turn guidance with SayWhere™ voice prompting
- Multi-destination routing
- Auto Re-route
- Beam addresses from your PDA
- Almost 7 million points of interest (POI)
Interacting with the RoadMate 760 is really easy. Not only does it have buttons to navigate the screens and select menus, but the screen is touch sensitive. While you are in the car this is essential since you cannot afford to divert your eyes long enough to use a scroll button. Being able to push the exact option is great. The buttons on the screen and on the device are big enough to see clearly and push, so people with big fingers don’t even have to worry about hitting the wrong button. It does take a bit of pressure to actually hit the button, and there is not a sensitivity setting, so you may find yourself pressing more than once until you get used to the amount of pressure it takes to puch the buttons.
Voice prompting is great. This is also a big must for driving. You don’t want to have to always be looking at the screen to see when your next turn is so the device will give you prompts. It will start by telling you when you are about 2 miles from your turn and then 1 mile and again at about half a mile. Then, just before you make your turn a chime will sound to indicate you are there. Optionally you can have the device announce the name of the street. You can choose between a male and female voice to do the announcing of turns, but the street names are always done in a female voice.
The RoadMate 760 comes preloaded with maps of the U.S., Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Canada. So you don’t need to worry about setting it up. I did not see any way to update the maps, but I assume that Magellan will provide periodic downloads with new maps that will have the latest streets and roads. There are also maps of Europe loaded on the device, but they are not available unless you purchase a key and use it to unlock those maps.
There is an extensive set of configuration and settings that you can change. Some of the options included in those menus are: changing the colors that the maps and other screens are show in, changing from a male to female voice for announcing the turns and managing the trip computer. One of the most useful features is switching the map to “Heading Up”. This makes it so the map will always be oriented to your current heading, which means that the direction you are facing will always be at the top of the map. I really like this because you don’t have to rotate the map in your head to figure out which direction you are going and what your next turn is going to be.
SmartDetour will automatically give you an alternate route if it detects that you have not moved very far for a while on a freeway or highway. This option can be disabled in the settings or at the time it offers you another route you can reject it and stay on your current course.
Auto Re-route will make sure that you are always on the right track even if you make the wrong turn. If you get off track the RoadMate 760 will automatically calculate the best route from your current location. Most of the time it will direct you back to the previous route.
The external antenna really offers great reception. I was able to get a GPS signal in places that other GPS’ with internal antennas could not.
One feature that I wish the RoadMate 760 had, but it does not, is a battery or at least a battery pack. This would allow you to set up routes and destinations in places where you didn’t have immediate access to a plug. The device does come with an AC and DC adapter so you can use it in your car and in your home, office or wherever there is a plug.
The RoadMate 760 is much larger and heavier than other devices that are for camping and hiking. This is not necessarily a bad thing. You do not have to carry this one around with you. It mounts on your windshield with the included mount or you can get an optional dash mount. The screen is much larger which allows you to see it from a greater distance and also interact with the touch screen. There are also speakers so the device can talk to you. All these things add up to make a bigger device.
On the top of the RoadMate 760 is the external antenna that I mentioned before. This antenna can swivel up and down. This is good for when you do have to carry it. It makes the device more compact and you can fit it into a large coat or backpack pocket. Also on the top are the volume and the repeat button; the repeat button will repeat the last spoken prompt.
The front of the RoadMate 760 has the screen which is touch sensitive so that you can interact with the device. There are also 10 buttons which serve various purposes. The most notable are the power button which is located on the left, the zoom in and out buttons, the locate button and the view button. To use the power button you need to hold it down for a couple seconds and then release it to turn on the GPS. The zoom in and out button are for getting closer or further out from the map. The locate button will give you information about your current location. The View button toggles between the map, Trueview 3D and direction displays. There is also an IR port and a light sensor on the front. The IR port is for transferring addresses from a PDA or other portable device. The light sensor will detect the ambient light and tell the GPS when it is dark or light so that it can switch the display between night and day modes.
On the back is where the cradle will connect. This is required for plugging it in. Since there are not any battery packs it would make sense to just build the plugs right into the device and get rid of the cradle.
The speakers are located on the top and bottom of the right side of the device. They are directly above and below the buttons. The speakers do a really good job and you can hear the directions cleary.
Using the RoadMate 760 is really simple. Setup and customization can take a little while if you have a lot of addresses that you are entering. You don’t have to worry about going outside to do the initial setup. The initial setup can be done inside where you don’t have a GPS signal. Things like entering your personal information, addresses, configuring the color scheme, voice prompts and other things do not require a GPS signal. Once you are ready to create a route you will need to go outside.
Creating a route is extremely easy. All you need to do is enter your destination and if you are in a place that you can receive a GPS signal it will create a route from your current location to the destination. There are several ways to select a destination. The first way is to choose one of the 7 million points of interest that come preloaded on the GPS. The next way is to enter the address manually. This is made really easy with the QuickSpell technology. QuickSpell intelligently sorts, searches, and checks spelling for rapid address entry with minimal keystrokes, accelerating your data entry by matching letters to the available destinations. For example, if you typed the letter S for the city the device eliminates certain letters because no city has those letters as the next letter. Also, if you have typed enough letters that there are no more variations possible, the device will automatically switch to a list of cities and let you choose the one you want. The last way to get a destination is to choose it from the address book. This is a list of previously entered addresses. You can get addresses into the address book either by entering them manually or by transferring them from a PDA via the built-in IR port.
Once you have your destination in you can choose one of four different paths. You can choose Shortest Time, Shortest Distance, Least Use of Freeways or Most Use of Freeways. Most people will probably use the shortest time, but in case you don’t like to use freeways, then you can choose the least used freeways. You can also link destinations together to create a route. If you are taking a trip across the country and you have several places that you want to see then you can plug them in and the RoadMate 760 will find the best path for you.
If you are moving it takes longer to find your current location and calculate a route. You should be stopped when you first create a route. It may take an even longer time to find your location if you turned off your GPS in one location and didn’t turn it on again until you moved away. In this case the initial route will be from the previous location and when the GPS finds your current location, it will recalculate and give you a new route.
As you move along the route the RoadMate 760 will keep you informed about how far you are away from your next turn. Your first prompt will come at about 2 miles out. If you have street name enabled, then you will hear the name of the street after the announcement of the turn. You will be reminded of the turn again at about 1 mile and again at about .5 miles. The final announcement will be telling you your turn is approaching. When you get to the turn you will hear a short chime. There is a different chime for left and right turns. There is also a prompt for when you are getting close to your destination and when you actually arrive at your destination. I did notice a little bit of static from the speakers after the direction had been announced. I did not find the static was not distracting or bad but others may not like it and it may get annoying.
Sounds are not the only indicator that you get when are approaching your turn. The screen also has information about your location and how far away you are from your turn and destination. In addition to the map which has a big purple line marking your route, there is also a series of numbers under the map which indicate the distance to the next turn, the time to destination, the direction to destination and your current distance from your destination. When you get close to your next turn a small progress bar will appear to show how close you are.
If you happen to make a wrong turn the RoadMate 760 will recalculate the route and tell you the best way to get to your destination, most of the time it will just tell you to turn around and go back to where you made your wrong turn. It is possible that you go so far off track that it will recalculate a completely new route. If you keep going the wrong way then it will continue to recalculate so that it can keep up with you current location.
No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t get lost while I had the RoadMate 760 with me. I never tried taking it off-road so I don’t know how it would handle places that were not on the map. I assume it would expect you to know how to get back to the nearest road and then it would give you directions from there.
The RoadMate 760 offers all the features that a road warrior could want. Besides the batteries, I could not think of a single feature that I would want that this device did not provide. I highly recommend it for anyone that is on the road a lot and often in unfamiliar territory. Because it is portable it would even be good for someone who flys and rents cars to get around. Because of the size and lack of batteries or other portable power source, it is not for campers and hikers, you may want to consider the Magellan eXplorist 600. At the time of this review the RoadMate 760 costs about $1,154.99, so spend your money wisely.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|