Magellan’s top end in-car GPS aims to fulfil everything you could want from a navigator all at once: it has maps of 27 European countries on board, live traffic updates via FM Traffic Messaging Channel, Speed Camera locations for UK, France and Germany, as well as a wealth of other Points of Interest options and handsfree mobile phone calls via Bluetooth. Plus you also get an MP3 player and a photo viewer just in case that wasn’t quite enough for you.
It has a quite large 3.5” touchscreen display built into the weighty 121.9 x 96.5 x 35.6 mm, 245g chassis, as well as a handy SD card slot. And, like most other GPS currently available, it offers turn-by-turn voice guidance, a quick detour function and the option for automatic re-routing when the TMC registers an upcoming jam.
The strong feature set is undoubtedly going to be the Roadmate’s biggest lure and a brief comparison with its competitors reveals that you’re going to have to shell out a little extra for a rival with the same specs. Or you’ll have to forgo some of the things that come as standard in the Magellan to make a small saving.
One of its better design aspects comes in the form of the intelligent address finding. This works by presenting you with a full alphabet, but then, as you spell out your intended destination, the options narrow down and it makes it a lot easier to jab at the right letter. This is pretty good for when you’re being naughty and trying to program in an address as you set off, or if you’re just in the passenger seat trying to program it while the car bumps along. Furthermore, you’re not limited to using the start of the address either – you can just use a part of the name and it will give you a list of available options to choose from.
The quality of Bluetooth calls was quite good as the sound quality was clear making it easy to hear the caller. Furthermore, the range of Bluetooth options isn’t just limited to receiving and ending calls – you can set up an address book, access recently dialled numbers or dial any number using the touchscreen keypad. The only downside was that sound quality for the person on the other end wasn’t that great.
Unfortunately there are many aspects about the unit’s design that I don’t like. For example: surrounding the display are no less than 10 individual buttons along with a directional keypad. This seems all the more unnecessary given that the screen is a touchscreen. This does mean that almost everything you would normally use the touchscreen for can be achieved using the external buttons, but all that does is highlight the fact that the touchscreen isn’t anywhere near as precise as those found on rivals like Garmin GPS systems.
Worse still, apart from the zoom and volume buttons, there’s little about the button names that really helps you determine what they do. You can get used to this as you learn your way around it, but the result is a steep learning curve and a lot of time wasted simply trying to get back to where you were before – a problem further capitulated by the device’s tendency to lag when you jab at too many buttons in frustration. And in pretty much everything but the address finder, the speed of operation seems to hang a lot too.
The display is also a bit of a let down. Most map settings offer graphics that look like something that escaped from the BBC Micro era, although it is nice to have the option to select from a wide range of colours until you get something more bearable. Less forgivable are the abbreviated road names that appear around your location to help you keep track of where you are – again competing products often manage to display these in full and without compromising on clarity.
Receiver: 20 channel SiRF Star III, WAAS/EGNOS enabled
Dimensions: 121.9 x 96.5 x 35.6 mm
Bluetooth wireless connectivity
Turn-by-turn voice and visual guidance
Maps: 27 European countries
Digital format compatibility: MP3 and WMA audio, JPG, JPEG and BMP images
Live FM TMC updates
Points of Interest Database
Speed cameras locations for UK, France and Germany
Instant Locate, FlexAddress and QuickSpell
Looking at specs alone the Magellan Roadmate 6000t is a tempting proposition and the core functions such as Bluetooth and, essentially, address finding are pretty good. However, some poor physical and software design decisions threaten to undermine that good work and over complicate what should really be straight forward tasks. However, you can pick one up for a little under £300 if shop around, so there is a silver lining at least.
Related sites: Magellan