Earlier this summer, CNET News.com's Daniel Terdiman embarked on a two-week road trip with a car full of gadgets, and guiding him through the journey was the Magellan RoadMate 3000T. It helped him navigate the back roads of Oregon and other parts of the Pacific Northwest, and he gave it an overall grade of B+. Well, we took it out for a test-drive ourselves and also found it to be a solid navigation system. We weren't enamored by its design, but looks count for only so much. The important thing is that the RoadMate 3000T accurately tracked our location and provided some nice features to help with navigation. Though it doesn't have some of the advanced features of its competitors, it's a good midrange model at a fair price ($599.99). In a departure from the company's other in-car GPS devices, the Magellan RoadMate 3000T sports a more compact and squarish design. The unit measures 4.3 by 3.8 by 1.4 inches and weighs a hefty 8.6 ounces, so this is definitely a car-only model.
The center of attention is the RoadMate 3000T's 3.5-inch, QVGA touch screen. It has a resolution of 320x240 pixels and is responsive to touch commands. Even better, the display is readable in sunlight, though it does have a tendency to hold fingerprints and smudges. Surrounding the display are eight buttons--power on/off, mute, enter, escape, a navigation toggle, Main menu, Destination menu, and Locate. There are also two large buttons on top of the device for zooming in and out of maps, and a volume dial. We certainly appreciate the last set of controls as well as the mute button, but we almost wish everything else was handled through the touch screen. Having all these external controls was overwhelming, and since they're located all over the perimeter of the RoadMate, we found ourselves accidentally hitting buttons and launching various menus when all we wanted to do was adjust the angle of the device. Also, they're not all clearly identified--for example, the Main menu button is only marked by two rectangles--so a quick read of the user guide might be worthwhile.
On the left spine is an SD/MMC expansion slot, while a 3.5mm headphone jack, a mini USB port, a reset hole, and a power connector are all located on the right side. The GPS receiver is integrated into the RoadMate 3000T, so you don't have to deal with any flip-up antennas, and the speaker is located on the device's backside.
Magellan packages the RoadMate 3000T with a windshield mount, a USB cable, a cigarette lighter power adapter, and reference material. We wish the company had included an AC adapter so that we didn't have to rely solely on the cigarette lighter to charge the device. Among today's portable nav systems, the Magellan RoadMate 3000T sits in the middle of the road, offering a fairly solid feature set but lacking some of the advanced features found in the high-end models, such as integrated Bluetooth and text-to-speech functionality. The device uses a 20-channel, SiRF Star III receiver and comes preloaded with maps of North America and a 6 million-plus points-of-interest (POI) database on its 4GB hard drive.
To start getting directions, you can enter a specific street address, choose a destination from your Address Book or Favorites list, or enter an intersection. The RoadMate 3000T also has a handy little feature called QuickSpell to help speed up the process of text entry. As you start entering the letters of your destination on the virtual keyboard, QuickSpell kicks in and dims out any characters that don't match any of the city or streets located in the system's database. It worked well, and we found it quite useful.