At first glance, the Magellan RoadMate 1200 looks to be a good entry-level in-car GPS. It has a compact, no-fuss design that's perfect for first-time buyers, and you get the most essential navigation features for an affordable $199.99. Sounds good, right? Not so fast, once on the road the RoadMate 1200 tells a different story. It's sluggish to perform tasks, such as route recalculation, and lacks some of the functionality that similarly priced systems offer. That said, if you're in the market for a basic portable navigation system, we'd recommend the Mio C230, which also adds text-to-speech functionality, or the TomTom One 3rd Edition.
The Magellan RoadMate 1200 is one of the smallest portable navigation systems we've seen in recent memory. It measures a petite 3.6 inches wide by 3.3 inches high by 0.6 inch deep and weighs a light 4.9 ounces. It's roughly the size of a deck of cards, so you could even mount it to a bicycle or use it as a handheld navigator while traveling on foot. Too bad the system doesn't offer bicycle or pedestrian routing modes. While the RoadMate 1200 feels solidly constructed, take care when transporting the unit between vehicles as the plastic shell could crack with a nasty tumble.
Now, the one trade-off to the RoadMate 1200's small frame is you don't get the larger 4.3-inch displays found on some of today's systems. Instead, you get a more standard 3.5-inch diagonal touch screen that admittedly looks cramped after having tested the wide screens, but it's still bright and sharp and we had no problems reading the maps. The touch screen is also responsive to commands.
The user interface is fairly intuitive and simple to master with clearly identified icons. Like other Magellan models, the RoadMate 1200 has a QuickSpell feature to aid in the text entry process. As you start to input the numbers and letters of an address on the virtual keyboard, QuickSpell dims any characters that don't match any of the city or streets located in the system's database.
Some final things to note: There is a SD expansion card slot and reset button on the right spine, while there's a mini USB port on the left and a sole power button on top of the unit. The Magellan RoadMate 1200 comes packaged with just a bare-bones list of accessories, which include a car charger and vehicle mount (windshield and dash). An AC adapter would have been a nice addition.