Magellan GPS Companion review: Magellan GPS Companion

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CNET Editors' Rating

3.5 stars Very good
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Solid GPS receiver; long battery life; lightweight.

The Bad Limited software capabilities; cannot create routes on the PDA; cannot export large maps to PDA.

The Bottom Line The Magellan GPS Companion is an affordable but limited GPS solution for Palm handhelds.

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Magellan's GPS Companion is a 12-channel receiver with a Helix antenna and Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) capabilities for enhanced positioning accuracy. The sledlike Companion snaps onto the back of the Palm and measures 6.13 by 2.7 by 0.9 inches, but it adds a mere 4 ounces in weight. It uses two AAA batteries (included), and we managed to get a little more than 12 hours of battery life.

In addition to the GPS receiver, Magellan provides its NAV Companion software, which displays the receiver's signal strength and your position in latitude, longitude, and elevation. NAV Companion also gauges speed and heading, has a trip odometer and a battery-level display, and will calculate ETA between waypoints.

Rand McNally's StreetFinder Deluxe travel software contains a huge database of U.S. maps and points of interest, but since it doesn't have a true GPS user interface, you'll have to switch between StreetFinder and NAV Companion to monitor the receiver's signal strength and other GPS-specific functions. But, there's also a Concierge menu that suggests destinations and a Trip Organizer to help plan expenses, create schedules, and map driving directions.

Although StreetFinder has a lot of useful trip-planning features, you'll have to do all preparations on a desktop first by selecting a portion of the map, creating driving directions, and transferring it to your PDA. Disappointingly, we found that the New York City metro region maps were too large to transfer to the Palm, so we had to exclude certain areas to make it fit. However, the routes we created on our desktop were accurate when we put them to the test. The Magellan GPS receiver worked well, maintaining a steady lock on the requisite four satellites.

At $149, the Magellan Companion is an affordable GPS add-on for users of the Palm m500 series . It gets you where you're going, but you'll have to spend a good deal of time creating maps before you hit the highway.

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Where to Buy

Magellan GPS Companion for Palm m500

Part Number: 98062101
Pricing is currently unavailable.

Quick Specifications See All

  • Receiver 12 channel
  • Antenna external
  • Product Type GPS kit