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Magellan GPS Companion review: Magellan GPS Companion

Magellan GPS Companion

John R. Delaney
2 min read
Magellan's GPS Companion is a 12-channel receiver with a Helix antenna and Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) capabilities for enhanced positioning accuracy. The sledlike Companion snaps onto the back of the Palm and measures 6.13 by 2.7 by 0.9 inches, but it adds a mere 4 ounces in weight. It uses two AAA batteries (included), and we managed to get a little more than 12 hours of battery life.
In addition to the GPS receiver, Magellan provides its NAV Companion software, which displays the receiver's signal strength and your position in latitude, longitude, and elevation. NAV Companion also gauges speed and heading, has a trip odometer and a battery-level display, and will calculate ETA between waypoints.
Rand McNally's StreetFinder Deluxe travel software contains a huge database of U.S. maps and points of interest, but since it doesn't have a true GPS user interface, you'll have to switch between StreetFinder and NAV Companion to monitor the receiver's signal strength and other GPS-specific functions. But, there's also a Concierge menu that suggests destinations and a Trip Organizer to help plan expenses, create schedules, and map driving directions.
Although StreetFinder has a lot of useful trip-planning features, you'll have to do all preparations on a desktop first by selecting a portion of the map, creating driving directions, and transferring it to your PDA. Disappointingly, we found that the New York City metro region maps were too large to transfer to the Palm, so we had to exclude certain areas to make it fit. However, the routes we created on our desktop were accurate when we put them to the test. The Magellan GPS receiver worked well, maintaining a steady lock on the requisite four satellites.
At $149, the Magellan Companion is an affordable GPS add-on for users of the Palm m500 series. It gets you where you're going, but you'll have to spend a good deal of time creating maps before you hit the highway.