Magellan RoadMate 760
As the first GPS unit to feature text-to-speech functionality, the Magellan RoadMate 760 jumps ahead of its in-car GPS competition. This full-featured in-car navigation device builds on the success of its predecessor, the . Along with text-to-speech functionality, it boasts other new capabilities, such as a smarter detour function and multiple-destination route preparation. Most important, the RoadMate 760 delivers accurate directions. Unfortunately, you'll take a hit in the wallet. At $1,099, it's one of the most expensive systems available, but for those who want a premium portable in-car GPS, the Magellan RoadMate 760 offers the latest and greatest. The Magellan RoadMate 760 shares the same gray and silver color scheme, dimensions (3.3 by 6.5 by 2 inches), and weight (13 ounces) as its older sibling, the RoadMate 700, and is outfitted with a 2.2-by-3-inch color touch screen that is both responsive and bright. We were impressed with the display's readability; maps and menus remained vibrant in every lighting condition, thanks in part to a light-sensing mechanism that adjusts the contrast and brightness levels as lighting conditions change. To the left of the screen is the power button, and to the right are eight function buttons, one of which is an eight-way rocker switch for positioning the cursor anywhere on the map. The View, Locate, Option, Enter, Cancel, and Zoom keys let you toggle between maps and maneuver lists, view details about your current location, access the user options menu, select menu choices, stop the current function, and zoom in or out of maps.
Along the top bezel are a flip-up antenna, a volume control, and a button for repeating the last voice prompt. The rear of the unit contains a speaker, a CompactFlash slot, and grooves for attaching the mounting cradle, which has a power jack and a USB port. One of the few gripes we have with the Magellan RoadMate 760 is related to the cradle; every so often, it became dislodged when we hit a bump or tried to adjust the viewing angle. More than once, the unit wound up on the floor of the car. On the upside, the excellent suction-cup mounting arm remained firmly attached to our windshield.
Aside from the aforementioned vehicle mount, Magellan packages the RoadMate 760 with everything you need to get up and running: AC and 12-volt car adapters, a USB cable, a quick-start guide, a basic user guide, and two CDs containing electronic documentation, as well as a points-of-interest (POI) manager utility that lets you create POI on your PC and upload them to the GPS unit.Under the hood of the Magellan RoadMate 760 sits a 20GB hard drive with detailed Navteq maps of North America, as well as a 12-channel WAAS-enabled GPS receiver. The drive also contains European maps, but you'll have to purchase an unlock code for $249 before you can use them.
The Magellan RoadMate 760 is the first system we've seen that uses text-to-speech technology--dubbed SayWhere by Magellan--for improving your driving experience, although variations on this feature are turning up in many of the latest car navigation devices, such as the. With SayWhere enabled, the RoadMate gives actual street names in the audible driving directions rather than the typical "Turn right in X miles" command. Overall, SayWhere worked well during our testing, but there were a few occasions in which the street name was garbled or incorrect; other times, there was no street name given at all. We love the TrueView 3D box that pops up before an anticipated maneuver, displaying the actual turning direction, distance to turn, and street name. The built-in speaker is loud and clear, and once you hit 45mph, the volume level automatically increases to compensate for engine and highway noise. With all these new audible and visual driving aides, it's virtually impossible to miss an exit.
Also new to this model are SmartDetour and multidestination-routing capabilities. SmartDetour is a cool feature that assumes you are stuck in traffic if your speed falls below 15mph for a predetermined period of time, prompting the unit to automatically calculate a new route around the trouble area. You can also use the Detour option manually to get around congested streets and freeways. Multidestination routing lets you create trips using the Trip Planner that include several stops along the way. You can choose the order of your planned stops or let the RoadMate do it for you.
Additionally, the Magellan RoadMate 760 now includes approximately 7 million POI, which are categorized and easy to access using the touch-screen menus. You can determine how many POI icons appear on the map and create your own personal POI via the options menu. Other features include autorerouting in case you do find yourself off course, a trip computer, three user profiles for sharing the unit between several vehicles, and an address book that holds 200 addresses or destinations per user. There's even an IR port for beaming addresses to the 760 from a compatible PDA or a smart phone.
Because the Magellan RoadMate 760 has so many features, its menu system is extensive, but it's fairly easy to follow. Still, it's a good idea to read through the manual and spend some time with the 760 at home, using the included AC adapter, before hitting the highway.Installing the Magellan RoadMate 760 is a snap; simply attach the cradle to the unit, slide it on the suction-cup mount, attach the mount to your windshield, plug it in, and go. When we first powered up the unit, it took a little more than 5 minutes to acquire a 3D fix (four satellites locked in), but after that, our waiting time averaged around 30 seconds.
We plotted a route that would take us from the suburbs of Long Island, New York, through Manhattan and on to our final destination: the Meadowlands Sports Complex in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Knowing that more than 60,000 die-hard fans were all converging at Giants Stadium to see the Rolling Stones, we were curious to see if the RoadMate 760 would take us there without our getting lost or arriving before the last encore. Right off the bat, we hit traffic on the Long Island Expressway, but the SmartDetour kicked in, quickly rerouting us through a series of local streets and highways and eventually back on the LIE. During the journey, voice commands alerted us to upcoming turns, with plenty of time to prepare for the next maneuver, and our location on the map was spot on. Our satellite signal remained strong throughout the trip, and the directions were flawless. Most impressive was the unit's ability to guide us through the maze of the Meadowlands Complex directly to the stadium, with time to spare.