High-quality vehicle-navigation systems have always been a bit expensive, and the new Magellan RoadMate 700, with a list price of $1,299, is no exception. That said, we think the RoadMate 700 is worth every penny, thanks to its accuracy, its user-friendly touch-screen interface, its voice-enabled and text-based driving directions, and its seamless mapping database.
Editor's note: We have changed the rating in this review to reflect recent changes in our rating scale. Click here to find out more.
Ready to use right out of the box, the fairly compact RoadMate (3.3 by 6.5 by 1.5 inches; 13 ounces) features a high-resolution color display (2.25 by 3.0 inches) that automatically adjusts as lighting conditions change. We had no trouble reading the screen, whether in direct sunlight or at night, and the colors remained crisp, regardless of the lighting environment.
We particularly liked entering information via the touch screen, although you can use the backlit eight-way rocker switch and the function buttons located on the right side of the unit. Inside the attractive two-toned silver/gray casing sits a 12-channel, WAAS-enabled receiver and a 10GB hard drive, which holds preloaded detailed maps of the United States and Canada.
It's the hard drive that makes the RoadMate so simple to use, as there are no CDs or maps to upload from your PC. But this also means you'll be doing all planning and navigation on the device. To keep it simple, RoadMate has a single database for the entire country, eliminating the need to switch between regional segments as you travel. For a fee, Magellan will provide annual mapping updates, which can be transferred to the unit's built-in CompactFlash slot via a CompactFlash card (not included, unfortunately).
Routes can be based on distance, time, or overall freeway usage. RoadMate offers room for three user profiles, making it ideal as a multicar navigation tool, and each profile holds up to 100 user-defined addresses for routing to frequently traveled destinations. The hard drive itself contains a massive Points Of Interest (POI) database with more than 2 million entries, including restaurants, banks, gas stations, and local attractions. You also can search for POIs nearest to your current location, then hit the Route button; the RoadMate 700 will display turn-by-turn directions.