Santa gave me the perfect gift this year—a Magellan
You hear about Global Positioning Systems (GPS) more and more these days.
This is such a cool technology, but more amazing when you can access this
technology from your own car! If you have a GPS system in your vehicle, you
know what I mean. Or, if you've ever rented a Hertz car and used their Never
Lost system, you also had a taste of this very cool feature. Now you can
purchase your own GPS system to easily move around from vehicle to vehicle
so you'll never get lost. And you guys will never have to pull over and
Earlier this year, Greg had to go to his HQ office in Boston. I was lucky
enough to be able to travel with him to enjoy my first visit to that part
of the country. While there, we rented a car that had this same GPS system
in it. It was too cool! Who needs a map? We had this voice that told us just
how to get from our hotel in Boston to the Witch Museum in Salem. We loved
Being a road warrior who has to find my way to client offices, this was the
perfect gift for me. We'd checked into it at the time, but discovered that
they were not commercially available. However, in the fall, I saw an add
for the Magellan GPS in a Best Buy flyer. I immediately hit the Magellan
web site and learned that they were now available, but only in the US for now.
They do mention that they will be available in Europe soon, within 2004,
The unit itself is totally portable, so you can take it with you and use it
in any vehicle that has a cigarette lighter for power. It's about the size
of your hand. Note that the image below is shown smaller than the actual
size, but you can check out the MagellanGPS.com web
site for full video details.
It comes with a prong mount that you can shove into your air conditioning
vents to mount it so you can view it while driving. However, to help, so
you rarely have to actually look at it, a choice of a female or male voice
will tell you
when you need to turn, etc. And they give you lots of warning.
Note, however, that I soon discovered that the prong mount doesn't stay put
too well and a turn can send the unit flying into the passenger's lap. Greg
fashioned me a wooden/spring mount until they come out with the new dashboard
mount they're promising this month. Now it stays put, yet I can still easily
remove it and toss it in my purse for safe keeping when I leave the car.
Granted, they're not cheap. The GPS 500 unit (which I have), runs $999.99.
The 700 unit is about $1300+. The only difference we found between
the two is that the 700 has an internal memory so you can store the whole
of the US and Canada. Whereas, the 500 has a memory card, like a digital
camera, that you load with the region in which you'll be traveling.
But notice the image below, you can allow up to three different users to store
their own personal address lists!
So for the price, you can pass it around amongst three drivers in
your household to use when they need to travel to unfamiliar locations. That
can balance out the cost, it being a family gift that not only saves
time and gas (when you're not driving around lost), but also a nice safety
factor (no more fumbling with maps while driving or having to stop at gas
stations in strange neighborhoods).
And it's so easy to use! Just take a few minutes to enter in the location,
either from your address book, by street address, intersection or use it
to find facilities near your current location. You can use either the buttons
or the touch screen.
It also uses a new technology called Quick Spell. When you start to enter
in a name of a city, it knows all the next letter combinations that
can possibly match all the cities in your current region (or country, if
using the 700). Therefore, as you type in letters, those characters that
couldn't possibly be used are grayed out, leaving only valid letters. This
makes it very quick and easy to spell out and find the city or street you
Once the GPS realizes that there are no more possible letter combinations
that would match any location in the category you're searching, it displays
all possible choices. A touch selects the city or street you need.
From there, you can enter a street address, intersection or request a item
from the points of interest list, such as the nearest ATM, gas station, park,
hotel, restaurant, shopping, etc. The list is amazingly complete! If you
know the location, such as McDonald's, you can start typing in the name and
just find the closest one. Or, you can get a list of all the places to eat,
in alphabetical order, within so many miles of your current location.
And the display is unreal. Oh sure, you can get a list of driving directions,
like a printout from Yahoo Maps or Mapquest.com (as shown below). But even
...the default view shows you the actual road on which you're traveling (see
below)! It'll tell you the name of the road you're currently on, the miles
to the next turn and in which direction that turn will be, the time until
you get to your location (assuming you're not stuck in traffic), the general
direction of your destination...like pointing "it's 3 miles over that way."
But then, that's just added information located at the bottom of the screen
so you're not driving just waiting for the next turn.
Nope...this thing does not provide directions like your sister..."quick...turn
here!" It's more like..."right turn in 1.5 miles....right turn in
.5 miles...prepare to turn right...DING (that means...this is the spot, now!).
And if you're traveling on a highway, you'll get extra warning regarding
exits and when to prepare (turn on the signal).
No...I don't get a commission on these things.<smile> Although I wish I
did, because they're amazing. I just want to make sure all our readers are
aware of the cool technology available out there.
If you have to travel around to a lot of different locations, such as being
in Real Estate or other sales or service jobs that means you have to drive
to client offices all over the state, this unit is definitely something you'll
want to put on your wish list. They've just come out with them, so
with luck, the price will come down.
For me, this thing is priceless. I've had it for several months
now and it's saved me tons of time and stress. If the roads are a mess and
you'd love to get on or off the highway now, no problem!
The unit will recalculate your direction and you can easily change it from
"use highways" or "shortest time" to "don't use highways" and
it will reroute you from where you are to where you need to be. And if you
have an emergency and need to tell someone where you're located, assuming your
vehicle can still give the unit power, even if you're in the middle of nowhere, just
press the Locate button
and you'll get an instant read out of your exact location, including longitude
You do get
a CD with all the regions on it; so for the 500 unit, no matter where
in the US/Canda you live, you can install your local region onto the memory
card. You can also purchase larger cards, although a local area does
cover a couple hundred miles in radius. I haven't yet completely checked
into the map updating service from their web site, but I believe there is
a small fee to update the maps over time. But
for the peace of mind it provides while driving...alone, at night, on a strange
road...I'll be saving my pennies to make sure I can keep it up-to-date,
because I never plan on being lost again!