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Magellan Maestro 4250 review:

Magellan Maestro 4250

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The points of interest (POI) gets a healthy boost, increasing the number of entries from the Maestro 4040's 4.5 million POI to 6 million. This includes all the major attractions, such as gas stations, ATMs, lodging, and restaurants by cuisine type, as well as more specialized categories, including camping grounds, golf courses, and movie theaters. While the database is extensive, we found some of the information to be out of date. For example, we did a quick scan of the restaurants around the Marina neighborhood of San Francisco, and found at least half a dozen listings that had been out of business for at least a year.

On a brighter note, the Maestro 4250 continues to offer access to AAA TourBook listings for AAA Diamond-rated lodging and restaurants, complete with information such as hotel amenities, restaurant description, and hours of operation, admission prices for certain attractions, and so forth. AAA members get a bit more benefit out of this feature since you can view listings for establishments that offer discounts to AAA members, and AAA-approved auto repair facilities. In addition, in case of an emergency, the unit will display the AAA member toll-free help number and your exact location, so you can give the operator all your information.

Finally, the system has integrated Bluetooth, so you can pair your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone or smartphone and use the Maestro 4250) as a hands-free speaker system. With it, you can place and accept calls, view your call history, search the device's address book, and redial. You can also directly dial any number associated with a POI. Unfortunately, your phone's address book and call history list does not automatically synchronize with the portable navigation system.

As we stated earlier in the Design section, we experienced some performance glitches and delays with the Magellan Maestro 4250. There was some lag between triggering a task to the time it was actually executed. The first couple of times this happened, we thought the touch screen simply didn't recognize our tap so we pressed the icons again. This ultimately led to the system freezing, so we had to power on/off, and it got pretty frustrating.

For our road tests, we took to the streets of San Francisco, and from a cold start, it took the Maestro 4250 about two minutes to get a fix on our position under clear skies, while subsequent starts were almost instantaneous. The system did a good job of tracking our position on drives throughout the city. The receiver was strong enough to survive the skyscraper-lined streets of the financial district, but as expected, the signal dropped once we drove through the Broadway Tunnel. The good news is that the Maestro 4250 was able to quickly pick up our location again once we exited the tunnel.

We also entered our standard trip from the Maridio district (Marina/Presidio) to CNET's downtown headquarters. The system quickly created directions, and a quick glance at the maneuver list showed that the course was accurate. The voice prompts were loud and clear, and we were pretty happy with the text-to-speech directions. The voice wasn't too robotic and did a decent job with street pronunciations. We also like that the Maestro 4250 alerts you to upcoming turns by playing a chime. That said, there were a couple of instances when the voice prompt would tell us to make a turn right as we were passing the street. Fortunately, route recalculations were fast and accurate, but still, we'd rather have ample warning of upcoming maneuvers.

As for the voice commands, we found it to be useful and certainly a safer option than taking your eyes off the road to look for POI on the map screen, checking your current location, and so forth. However, it has its restrictions. First, be aware that you have to say, "Magellan" to activate the voice-command function and to get the best results, you're pretty much going to have to turn off your radio and roll up your windows. Once we did that, the Maestro 4250 did a good job of understanding our voice commands and performed all the functions. At times, we couldn't help but think it would be quicker to use the touch screen, but again, if you're driving, this is a safer option.

We had no problems pairing the Maestro 4250 with the Samsung BlackJack II, and was able to easily make and receive calls. That said, we found the call volume was pretty low. And again, we also wish all our phone's information was automatically synchronized with the Maestro 4250.

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