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iPhone car kit comparo: TomTom vs. Magellan (photos)

The TomTom and Magellan car kits for the iPhone have much in common, but there are a few crucial differences. We put the two units side-by-side to help you decide between them.

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Antuan Goodwin
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1 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Head-to-head

The TomTom and Magellan car kits for iPhone have much in common, but there are a few crucial differences. We put the two units side-by-side to help you decide between them.
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2 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Side-by-side

The Magellan (left) and the TomTom (right) feature very different aesthetics. Where the TomTom is sleek and slim, the Magellan is a bit bulky and industrial looking.
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3 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Rear view

This carries over to the back, where the Magellan looks like a bit of a mess compared with the TomTom's simplicity.
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4 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Bag friendliness

Because of its EasyPort mount and slim cradle, the TomTom kit also folds down into a smaller more purse- and bag-friendly package, whereas the Magellan doesn't really fold down at all.
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5 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Speaker placement

The Magellan's loudspeaker is located at the bottom of the cradle and fires downward. Meanwhile, the TomTom's rear-firing speaker is located at the back, where the EasyPort mount connects. The TomTom seemed louder during our testing, but your results may vary depending on your vehicle's acoustics and placement.
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6 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Connections

Interestingly, both TomTom and Magellan have chosen to place their Mini-USB ports and aux-output in the same location, at the bottom of the cradles' right edge.
Speaking of power cables, the TomTom's is about 9-inches longer than the Magellan's approximately 44-incher.
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7 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Volume controls

Both cradles feature volume controls on the left edge. The TomTom has a rocker switch, whereas the Magellan's volume is a recessed dial located further up. Look closely and you'll see the Magellan's pinhole microphone.
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8 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Suction cup mounts

The Magellan's more standard suction cup mount has only two points of articulation at the ball joint, where the arm meets the body, and a pivot just beyond that. The TomTom's EasyPort mount has a ball joint, a pivot, and slides on rails up and down the base.
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9 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Sliding mount

Here we see the TomTom's EasyPort going from a low position to a high one. It's a small difference, but it adds a lot of flexibility for windshield or dashboard mounting without taking up a lot of space.
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10 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Flexible dock connectors

Both devices feature a few degrees of movement in their dock connectors. However, the Magellan's rubber-necked connector has the most flex.
In this image, you can also see the TomTom's pinhole microphone to the left of its embossed logo.
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11 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Adjustable retaining arm

Where the Magellan begins to shine is with its flexibility. This adjustable retaining arm moves 3/8-inches up and down to accommodate the iPhone, bulky cases, and the iPod Touch (2G only).
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12 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Backstop

This adjustable backstop on the Magellan helps the user to create a snug fit for their iPhone or iPod Touch, with or without a case.
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13 of 13 Antuan Goodwin/CNET

Which one?

So, which cradle is best for you? GPS accuracy and speakerphone performance is about the same, so you can't go wrong with either. It really comes down to a question of form factor.
Anyone who wants to leave the cradle with the car, and use it with multiple iPhones and iPods with different cases, will appreciate the flexibility of the Magellan's mount. However, people who want to carry a slim cradle with them from vehicle to vehicle will like the svelte TomTom.

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