Magellan Roadmate 3050T
By Lawson Wong
If you are new to a city or just plain bad with directions, a GPS navigation device may be your best friend. GPS devices have been around for some time now, and many newer cars have them built right in the dash. The next generation of GPS can now provide real live traffic information so it will not only get you to your destination but also get you there the quickest way possible. Enter the Magellan RoadMate 3050T, offering turn-by-turn directions as well as real live traffic information.
Look and Feel
For those familiar with Magellan's RoadMate series of GPS devices, the Magellan RoadMate 3050T is basically a combination of the 3000T and the Magellan TrafficKit. The 4.8 x 3.8 x 1.4-inch device comes in an attractive black and silver finish. A gorgeous 3.5-inch color touchscreen display boasts a bright picture for easy viewing.
In addition to the touchscreen control, I appreciated the control buttons for quick function access. On the right-hand side of the unit are the LOCATE (shows your current location), VIEW (switches among the 4 different map views) and MENU (brings you back to the main) buttons. Just below the LCD screen, a directional navigation pad lies sandwiched between an ENTER and ESC button. Finally, the speaker-mute button sits along the left edge. All the buttons are backlit with a stylish blue glow, making them easy to view, especially at night. Although not rocket science, a GPS novice might experience a bit of a learning curve figuring out the user interface.
Setup is a breeze. The unit slides into a bracket that easily connects to a double-joint, suction-cup window mount. Recharge or power the device with the included cigarette lighter power adapter and you're good to go.
Preloaded with maps of North America, Puerto Rico and Canada, you can find where you need to go using four methods: punching in an address using the virtual keypad, picking a destination previously saved to the address book, entering a intersection, or choosing from a list of Points of Interest (POI), like gas stations, ATMs and restaurants.
Making text entry more efficient, I really liked the QuickSpell feature that works much like an auto-complete function. As you start keying in the letters of your destination, QuickSpell will restrict access to certain characters that do not fit into addresses and locations loaded into its database. Works like a charm!
For POI navigating, you can either spell out the name of your destination (i.e.: Yankee Stadium) or choose from a list of preloaded POIs. You can also peruse through the 37 categories, from airports to hospitals to grocery stores. For restaurants, you can search deeper with subcategories, breaking it down to type of cuisine (i.e.: Japanese) or occasion (i.e.: snacks and beverages). After choosing the category, you can tighten your search by locations nearest your position, by city or directly type in the name of your destination. Finally, you can choose the best route for you by the shortest time, shortest distance, least use of freeways, or most use of freeways, and the GPS will give you turn-by-turn voice and text directions to your destination.
Avoid Traffic Gridlock
Magellan's TrafficKit uses NAVTEQ Traffic service to provide real-time traffic information. It will display all necessary information (traffic flow, accidents, road constructions, etc.) to help you avoid traffic jams and get you to where you need to be the quickest way possible. Magellan offers a free introductory 3-month period for the traffic service, requiring a monthly subscription fee thereafter.
Even without the TrafficKit, you can use Magellan's SmartDetour feature. Once you drop below 15 mph, the device will assume that you are stuck in traffic, and a detour icon pops up that you can tap for an alternative route.
Although it lacks an integrated Bluetooth receiver for connecting your cell phone, the 3050T makes up for it with its multimedia capabilities. With a built-in rechargeable battery and a SD/MMC memory card slot, the unit functions as both a photo (bitmap/JPEG) and digital audio (MP3/WMA) player. Along the right side sits a standard 3.5mm earphone jack, but the package includes neither earphones nor a memory card.
GPS devices have often been criticized for the excruciating long time for the satellite to pick up your global positioning. Out of the box, the Magellan GPS pinpointed my location within 3 minutes. Waking from sleep mode, the device picked me up in seconds. When making multiple stops during a drive, it is best to keep the GPS in sleep mode rather than completely shutting it down at each stop.
The accuracy of the 3050T made me a believer, consistently getting me within 10-15 feet of my location - many other GPS devices get only within 30 feet. Equally impressive, the unit would almost instantly reroute me whenever I deviated from the preset direction path. The robust database of POIs quickly and easily located ATMs, gas stations and restaurants convenient to my location. While it lacks text-to-speech support that many high-end GPS systems boast, the volume and accuracy of the turn-by-turn directions were more than sufficient. I never did get lost driving in either Los Angeles or Orange County, and that's saying something.
Who's It For
Forget Thomas Guides or awkward foldout maps, whether you are directionally challenged or a visitor to a new city, the Magellan Roadmate 3050T will help you get to where you need to go. With a portable form factor, multimedia features and the TrafficKit, the sub-$600 RoadMate 3050T makes an excellent choice for anyone shopping for a traffic-enabled GPS device.
Magellan Roadmate 3050T
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