Magellan's latest 5-inch GPS navigator aims to differentiate itself from the ever-shrinking portable navigation market with a pair of unique features that should make life easier for sufferers of wanderlust. The RoadMate 5175T-LM Traveler's TourDirector feature helps users to explore unfamiliar cities and Wi-Fi connectivity keeps them connected to the Web while on the go.
The RoadMate 5175T-LM is built in the same slate configuration that we're used to seeing in GPS devices these days. At the core of the design is a 5-inch resistive touch screen with a WVGA resolution. Along the top edge of the device is the power button--the sole physical control to be found--and along the bottom edge is the Mini-USB port where the unit charges and connects to a PC for software and map updates. There's also a microSD card slot on the bottom edge for expanding the unit's memory for storage of more maps for multiple regions.
Out of the box, the unit is preloaded with maps of the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico with about 6 million points of interest.
The Traveler is able to be held in a portrait or landscape orientation thanks to an internal accelerometer. However, because the GPS antenna must always be oriented skyward, the unit can only be rotated in one direction (clockwise) for its portrait orientation.
Users are able to mount the Traveler to their windshield or dashboard using the included suction-cup mounting cradle. The device connects to the cradle by a small groove on its back panel, into which a tab molded into the cradle slides. A 12-volt-to-Mini-USB adapter charges and powers the Traveler when in a vehicle. The Mini-USB connection at the end of this adapter connects semipermanently to the mounting cradle, so users can mount and plug in the Traveler unit with one motion.
Also in the box is a Mini-USB-to-full-size-USB cable for connecting the Traveler to a computer.
The RoadMate 5175T-LM Traveler at its core has many of the features that we've seen in the rest of Magellan's RoadMate lineup. The map screen places its controls in each of its four corners and along the screen's edges, with buttons for OneTouch, volume control, the Main Menu, zoom in and out, travel information, and traffic. While navigating, the 5175T-LM gives live updating spoken turn-by-turn directions with useful features such as spoken street names, highway lane guidance, and speed limit alerts. We especially like the way the system uses chimes instead of speech to signal when it's time to turn, so the system doesn't feel like it's jabbering on endlessly.
From the upper right corner of the map screen, users are able to access Magellan's OneTouch menu where 15 shortcuts to commonly accessed destinations and searches can be saved. Two of these presets are fixed (TourDirector and emergency services) but the remaining 13 can be set and reset by the user.
Lifetime map updates can be downloaded from the Internet using Magellan's Content Manager Software and Lifetime traffic data can be browsed on the unit's map. Traffic data comes wirelessly over the air via the RDS-TMC band. Like most RDS-TMC systems, flow and incident data is mostly available for interstates, major highways, and a few major streets, with the majority of secondary and surface roads going uncovered.
One of the marquee features touted for the 5175T-LM is that it is Wi-Fi-enabled. The unit is able to connect a Wi-Fi hot spot and browse the Internet via a very basic browser. Users have controls for back, forward, refresh, and zoom. Bookmarks can be saved and recalled via a dedicated menu. We had issues getting the browser to connect to our open office Wi-Fi network, which required in-browser authentication, but subsequent tests with home networks without such authentication were more successful. Portable Wi-Fi hot spots or tethered smartphones should work just as well. The unit's low resolution screen and resistive touch screen make it less than ideal for extended browsing sessions, but in a pinch it would do for quickly looking up an address. Additionally, the Wi-Fi connection can be used for software updates, which is actually quite useful.
There's also a feature called TourDirector that aims to help users plan travel itineraries of local attractions, shopping, and restaurants when vacationing in unfamiliar cities.
The stay-cation test
We decided to test the Traveler's TourDirector function by taking a bit of a stay-cation in our home city of San Francisco. We're familiar with the bulk of what this city has to offer its tourists, but for purposes of this test, we'd pretend that we didn't and try to ignore our local knowledge until the end.