Question: I have an older navigation system I like, but the maps are sorely out-of-date. Updating the maps costs almost as much as a brand new navigation system so I am torn between sticking with something I know and like, or taking the plunge with a brand-new unit. What are your thoughts on this?
Answer: Given the typical expense of a one-time map upgrade I think you are better off getting a new navigation unit, especially since so many of them now come with free lifetime map updates.
Portable navigation systems also have come a long way from their predecessors of just a few years ago. Competition from GPS applications on smartphones has forced manufacturers to up the ante with bigger screens, more advanced features and added value. A recent product evaluation has shown me how far portable navigation systems have come in a short period of time.
Before I discuss systems, you should know I am a real road warrior. I absolutely love to drive and take road trips, racking up almost 25,000 miles per year. For the past few years, I have depended on my trusty Magellan RoadMate 1470 GPS when I drive a car that does not have navigation built-in.
I have always been a Magellan fan because I think it provides the best value on the market, along with unique features that are easy to use and very helpful in real-world driving. For example, a chime sounds to let you know when it is time to turn and the chime's tone tells you what direction you should turn. I have found that this feature makes it much less likely you will miss a turn when driving in unfamiliar territory. Another feature that is very handy on long trips is the Exit POI (Points of Interest) button. A dedicated button on the screen will instantly call up food, fuel and lodging facilities at upcoming exits.
I recently tested a Magellan RoadMate 5265T-LMB and it is a huge leap forward from the still excellent RoadMate 1470. The RoadMate 5265T-LMB includes popular Magellan features such as the Exit POI and turn chime and adds improvements that clearly make it a huge stride forward.
One of the biggest improvements is the landmark-based spoken directions. For example, a typical navigation system may say "go 500 feet and turn right on Main Street." The 5265T-LMB will say "go 500 feet and at the BP station, turn right on Main Street." It's a lot easier to see the BP station 500 feet ahead than a tiny sign that says "Main Street." When driving on the interstate, the screen changes to show upcoming lanes and exit signs in full-screen mode to make it very easy to make sure you are in the proper lane at confusing interchanges.
The unit includes Bluetooth for hands-free phone calls and a wireless backup camera can be added. Free lifetime map updates and traffic alerts could make it the last GPS you will ever need to buy.
At $199.95, the Magellan RoadMate 5265T-LMB is not inexpensive but I can easily say that the value proposition is outstanding, given its performance and advanced features. See it at www.magellangps.com.interact - soundadvice
Read product reviews by Don Lindich at soundadviceblog.com.