The Magellan RoadMate 360 is the most affordable ($499.99) member of the company's RoadMate series of vehicle navigators, and like its more expensive siblings, it offers a powerful GPS receiver and accurate, turn-by-turn, voice-guided driving directions. It's simple, intuitive, and perfect for first-time GPS buyers. That said, the RoadMate 360 lacks some of the extras found in similarly priced models, such as 3D map views, traffic service capabilities, and an integrated MP3 player, to name a few, so if you want more bang for your buck, we recommend taking a look at Lowrance iWay 350c. Housed in a black-and-silver plastic casing and weighing a mere 9 ounces, the Magellan RoadMate 360 is small enough (6.1 by 3.1 by 1.2 inches) to fit in a jacket pocket or a handbag. Unfortunately, the lack of an internal battery means you can't use the device as a true portable navigator and take it with you on foot.
The 3.5-inch color display is bright and easy to read in any lighting environment, and the touch screen is very responsive. To the right of the screen is a series of function buttons for zooming in and out of map screens, selecting destinations, viewing your current location, selecting or canceling menu options, and accessing the User Options screen where you can change settings and view trip statistics. There's also an eight-way rocker switch used for map panning and selecting menu items. All controls are intuitive and easy to use, but if we could add one thing to the wish list, it would be a dedicated volume knob. The internal speaker is certainly loud enough to hear voice-guided directions and turn alerts, but to adjust the volume, you have to enter changes through the settings menu.
The flip-up patch antenna is positioned on top of the RoadMate 360, while the USB and power connector ports are mounted on the left. Located behind a protective rubber cover on the bottom of the device is an SD card slot, and you'll find a headphone jack on the right. Magellan packages the RoadMate 360 with all the standard accessories, including a 12-volt cigarette-lighter power adapter, a suction cup mounting arm, an AC power adapter, and a USB cable for uploading new firmware and software releases. A CD containing a reference manual is included in the box. The Magellan RoadMate 360 features a 14-channel WAAS-enabled (Wide Area Augmentation System) receiver and comes with an SD card preloaded with detailed maps of the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. The unit offers all the standard GPS capabilities you'd expect in a vehicle navigation device, such as voice- and text-guided directions, automatic rerouting, a 2 million points-of-interest (POI) database, and instant routing from a POI or address book entry. That said, the RoadMate 360 lacks a number of features found in similarly priced competitors, such as the Lowrance iWay 350c.
You don't have the option of viewing maps in a 3D orientation, although Magellan's TrueView screen mode will display an upcoming maneuver in 3D when enabled. Also missing is integrated Bluetooth for use with your cell phone or PDA and the ability to add traffic alert services as found on the TomTom GO 300.
However, for the GPS newbie, the RoadMate 360 will be a good fit. It offers the basics to get you from point A to point B without any extra distractions. As always, Magellan's user interface is intuitive and easy to follow. The maps are colorful and easy to read, and Magellan's QuickSpell feature makes it easy to enter destinations via the onscreen keyboard. We've come to expect outstanding performance from the Magellan RoadMate series, and the RoadMate 360 didn't disappoint. The 14-channel receiver did an excellent job of tracking our progress as we navigated through the streets of Manhattan's Upper West Side, and a trip to the Catskill Mountains in upstate New York was equally successful, with only one lost signal error during a six-hour ride through a dense forest.
Driving directions were accurate and route calculations very fast. We also appreciated the speedy recalculation time when we had to change course because of a major traffic backup. Our only complaint would be that it took a while for the unit to acquire a satellite fix from a cold start. The first time we fired up the RoadMate, we had to endure a five-minute wait for the unit to lock into the requisite four satellites; we've seen units do this in just a couple of minutes, but the longer start time isn't a deal breaker. Plus, subsequent start-up times were less than 45 seconds.