Friday, February 24, 2006

Magellan Road Mate 760Last week, while heading home from Seattle, we stopped briefly on the way out of town to pick up something at a mall. While there we saw a Brookstone store (I'm such a sucker for those places) and were pulled in by the magnetic gadgetness. Only Sharper Image compares in terms of pure gadget tractor beam power.

Anyhow, a minute or so after I entered the store, over walked an employee, nice guy. First words out of his mouth? Anything in the store you can touch on the floor - all floor models - 50% off (except massage chairs and tempurpedic mattresses, those were discounted 30%). Woah! So, I started looking around. It was almost too good to be true. And I just got my tax refund. Heh.

There were all sorts of cool things, and my mom and friend Mary Beth - they were there with me - picked up a few some stuff they liked. Me? Time to look for some electronics, baby. I was shocked to walk around a floor stand and find a Magellan Roadmate 760 GPS display - one of those displays where the device is security-sealed in a hard clear plastic frame, but it's a real, working model, you know? I call the sales guy over. Sure enough, half price, he says. He looks in the back to see if the box, papers and parts were anywhere to be found - and again, sure enough, he found everything. Score!

So, I bought it - essentially brand new for $450. Talk about luck. This is a GPS system that typically retails for around $750 to $900 in stores, sometimes more. It definitely pays to shop around. Froogle searching for new units shows you can get it for as low as around $700 if you look hard enough. Costco members can buy it online as of the time of this posting for $750 (after a $150-off coupon). I've been traveling a lot lately, and my job will have me traveling more and more in the future, so with all the unfamiliar cities and rental cars, having a GPS unit that does everything will be very useful.

Note: The RoadMate 760 has been around for something like a year now, and it's a terrific unit. The RoadMate 800 is pretty much the same device, only with a battery built into it, different color case, some button changes and whatnot - so you can use it without external power. And it costs a bit more.

It talks to you and gives turn by turn directions with street names (via a text-to-speech feature), has a bright touch screen display, and tons of cool features like auto dimming of the display at nights, auto color changing of the display at night, automatically increasing volume as you drive faster to account for road noise, and more. the pre-installed maps cover all of the US and Canada, and maps for Europe are pre-installed (you buy an unlock code to license those).

Having used mine a couple times, and with plenty of time to play with it (I'm a passenger when it comes to cars right now), I can say that the money was well-spent. The first time I plugged it in, it fired right up and found the GPS satellites. I created a route by entering the name "Olive Garden" into the locator as we were driving down the highway, and then instructing it to display destination results to me with the closest match shown first in the list. I selected the restaurant I wanted, and it displayed the address and phone number of the business (phone numbers - nice feature!), then I just clicked to create the driving route.

Almost immediately (this thing calculates routes very quickly), it started speaking the driving instructions and showed the route on the screen. As you drive, the map scrolls and updates, with your location in the center of the screen. I set the unit to display heading-up orientation, so that the top of the map is the direction of travel (you can also set it so that the top of the map is always north, but I didn't find that to be very intuitive). It warns you when you're two miles from a turn, then again at a half-mile, and one more time as you approach the turn. When you reach a waypoint in your route, it plays a sound (you can choose the sound, like a chime or beep, etc.) to let you know you've made it each step along the way. If you go off route it will immediately recalculate a new route and tell you where to turn, or if needed it will tell you to "make a legal U-turn" to get you back on track.

I'm a lucky guy to have found it at the price I did, but I can honestly say that after having used it for a day or two I would buy one anyhow at the available market prices. It makes driving and finding things remarkably easy and the routes it found were spot on. It will meet a real need with all my business and personal travel.


  • Map Software: Ready to use detailed, seamless North American map (48 contiguous United States, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and all of Canada) loaded on internal 20GB HDD. Pre-loaded European maps may be unlocked for an additional fee - for more information see:
  • User Interface: Touch Screen or dynamic keypad input
  • Display: High Resolution TFT LCD full color touch-screen display automatically adjusts to lighting changes
  • Display Size (H/W) 2.25" x 3.0"
  • Route Calculator: Choose from four different route methods: Shortest Time, Shortest Distance, Least Use of Freeways, Most use of Freeways
  • Turn-by-Turn Navigation: TrueView 3D screen shows upcoming turn while voice prompt politely gives turn-by-turn guidance in any of 11 languages (French, UK and US English, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Norwegian, Danish, Swedish, Finnish)
  • Route Recalculation: Automatically and quickly calculates new route when car deviates from the established route
  • Multi-Destination Routing: Create and save multi-destination trips. Use route optimization to determine the quickest way between stops or choose your own order.
  • Track Progress on Map: Dynamically tracks progress on the onscreen map - the map scrolls as you drive
  • Choose heading-up or north-is-up map orientation
  • QuickSpell Technology: Simplifies data entry by pre-determining letters from the available database when spelling street and city names
  • Address Book: Holds 200 addresses per user — up to 600 total
  • Points-of-Interest: Almost 7 million points of interest
  • Portable: True plug-n-play in any region - just a 12-volt lighter plug
  • Mapping Data: Provided by NAVTEQ
  • Dimensions: 3.25" H x 6.5" W x 2" D
  • Weight: 13 oz.
  • Mounting hardware: Supplied with suction cup and fully-articulable snake arm, quick release mount
  • Device antenna folds up, can be removed to attach external antenna if desired

Add/Read: Comments [2]
Friday, February 24, 2006 10:24:03 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Saturday, February 25, 2006 9:16:19 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
This is one COOL gadget that is definitely worth buying!

It was definitely cool to see this in action.
Mary Beth
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