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Magellan RoadMate Commercial Truck GPS Navigator 9270T-LM

Posted by tomwiles at 9:44 PM on July 5, 2012

The Magellan RoadMate 9270T-LM is a 7” inch touch screen GPS aimed at the commercial trucking industry. I’ve spent a lot of time with it in real world situations and at this point feel I can give the unit a fair review.

I’ve done a fair amount of experimenting with GPS units aimed at commercial drivers. I live with these things 24/7 and at this point I’ve got a pretty good idea of what a commercial GPS should do. In this review I’ll be using my current Garmin trucker GPS as a bit of a yardstick to compare the Magellan unit to.

The box includes the 9270T-LM GPS itself, along with a long, heavy-duty base unit with dual suction cups capable of securely attaching the unit to virtually any big truck dash, no matter how large or oddly shaped it is. It comes with an AC adapter, which must be assembled with the included prongs for North American AC power outlets. It also comes packed with a USB cable for connecting the unit to a computer for updates, a 12-volt power adapter to power it with a 12-volt vehicle power socket, as well as a very rudimentary user’s manual. The box says the unit can be updated with software for both Windows and Mac, however the website seems to suggest that their Mac update software is limited to certain GPS models.

The Magellan 9270T-LM comes with lifetime maps – that’s what the “LM” stands for. It also comes with lifetime traffic updates, which are accomplished via a passive FM radio system present in many areas of the country. It has a bright 7” inch touch screen that makes the unit easy to read and use. Overall vehicle dimensions can be readily customized, as well as specifying whether or not one is hauling hazardous materials for routing purposes.

The 9270T-LM’s navigation seems on par with the Garmin trucker GPS I’ve had for the better part of a year. It seems to follow truck routes and also is cautious about routing large truck’s around roads it isn’t sure about. One quirk I found with the integrated points of interest is that it does not seem to include the Blue Beacon chain of truck washes, which is a major omission unless I happened to run into some quirk in it’s integrated POI database. I am constantly having to look for truck washes at times on a daily basis so I can get my refrigerated trailer washed out prior to reloading it, so the more complete the integrated POI database is, obviously the better.

In use, the unit warns of an upcoming turn two miles before, then again, as you get closer. It also chimes at both turns and at freeway off ramps. It automatically (and quietly!!!) quickly recalculates if you happen to go past a turn or an exit.

One of the features I really like is the way inputting cities, streets and address numbers works. It is predictive (attempting to predict the names of cities and streets so you don’t have to type the entire words) with a large onscreen keyboard that takes up most of the screen, making the keys easy to hit. It also speaks each letter or number as you hit it, making it easy to tell if you’ve made a typing mistake as you spell the names out.

On the negative side, the unit is fairly inflexible in how it allows you to customize the main screen to your own individual tastes. My existing 5” inch Garmin trucker GPS allows a tremendous amount of flexibility in the multiple pieces of real-time data it allows the end user to simultaneously display. I like to have the current time of the time zone I’m in always displayed, along with the speed limit of the road I’m on, the speed my vehicle is actually traveling, along with how many total miles are remaining for the entire multi-stop trip.

The 9720T-LM has a pop-up display accessed by tapping on the screen that displays the remaining distance, the ETA, the actual vehicle speed, and the elevation. It also displays the direction of travel but I’ve found this digital compass feature to be completely unreliable. This transparent slide-up data display bar stays up for a few seconds and then slides back down with no way to force the information to remain on the screen. It is unfortunate because the large 7” inch touch screen ends up with a lot of wasted screen real estate. I discovered by playing around with it that it is possible to pick one of those pieces of data to display in the lower right corner of the main screen by default. After tapping and getting the slide-up display in position, tap and hold the piece of data you want to remain displaying in the lower right corner and it will stick once the data display slides back down off the screen. The most useful piece of data for me personally and one I find myself constantly monitoring is the current vehicle speed, especially when traveling down two lane roads and going through small towns, which can sometimes be notorious as speed traps.

The Magellan 9720T-LM is capable of multi-stop routes, making it possible to enter a multi-drop trip into the unit all at once, however it falls short in that it doesn’t offer the total miles for the multi-stop trip readily available on the main screen the way the Garmin does. The 9720T-LM only displays the mileage distance to the next programmed stop. This is an important omission for most irregular route commercial drivers, because it is often necessary to calculate the total mileage for a multi-drop trip.

One feature I’d like to see in any GPS is the ability to manually adjust the average prediction speeds myself to particular vehicles. My truck has a 63 MPH top speed, not 65, and not 70. If I could adjust the top speed for about 60 MPH for freeways, and even slower for secondary two-lane roads, the overall ETA predictions would be far more accurate for trucks in the real world.

The 9720T-LM does seem to have some speed limit data for certain freeways, but the data seems to be incomplete. This lack of speed limit data might be revised in future map updates. Going back to my Garmin, it has speed limits for the vast majority of roads, including secondary two-lane roads.

On the plus side, the 9720T-LM calculates routes very quickly compared to my Garmin. On the other hand, the unit can often be somewhat unresponsive to on-screen taps, with delays sometimes of up to a second in some cases before it responds. This delay factor can end up being frustrating if you’ve tapped twice or more thinking that you just didn’t tap hard enough, only to find yourself tapping on something you didn’t intend to and having to start over. To be fair, to an extent my Garmin suffers from the same issue. I don’t know if this is a slow processor problem or a problem that better programming practices could fix.

The 9720T-LM’s integrated speaker located on the back of the unit is loud enough for me to easily hear in my truck at freeway speeds.

Under the “One Touch” menu in the upper right corner of the display, it offers the ability to program in a total of twenty frequent destinations and even save multi-stop trips making it possible to eliminate having to re-enter the same trips over and over again for drivers that are constantly making exactly the same trips or constantly going to the same destinations.

If you are looking for a large 7” inch touch screen GPS for a commercial truck or even a large recreational vehicle (RV), the Magellan 9720T-LM is a nice choice. It offers good routing capabilities for large vehicles, along with a big, beautiful, easy-on-the-eyes display.

Magellan Roadmate RV

Posted by Alan at 11:14 PM on February 4, 2012

magellan logoMagellan recently showed of the Roadmate RV, a specialty GPS unit made for recreational vehicles.  This isn’t the typical GPS device you would place in your car, but a very specialized unit made specifically for the RV.  For instance, automodile drivers don’t generally have to worry if their car will fit on a particular road.

At the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas Andy Smith of TPN got a look at the new Roadmate RV.  This GPS unit will let the driver know about specific road conditions based on the size of their vehicle, such as if the road is too narrow or if there are low bridges.  It can also direct the user to RV friendly campgrounds.

The Roadmate RV has a large 7 inch screen.  Users can also uncheck their vehicle profile and switch the unit to their car for standard navigation.  You can find more about the fautures and pricing by watching the video below and also by visiting the Magellan web site.

Interview by Andy Smith of Geocaching World.

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Magellan Back-up Camera Wins CES Innovations 2012 Award

Posted by Alan at 2:47 PM on December 19, 2011

The run up to CES always picks up speed in the second half of December when early award winners begin to be announced.  Today Magellan, one of the leaders in the GPS market, announced that they have been named the winner of the CES Innovations 2012 Design and Engineering Award for their Magellan Wireless Back-up Camera.

Many cars today are beginning to come with this technology built-in, but if yours doesn’t Magellan makes it an easy retro-fit.  The tiny wireless camera mounts to the car’s license plate and when the vehicle is put into reverse compatible Magellan GPS devices switch from navigation mode to camera view.

“Magellan is proud to announce it has been named an International CES Innovations 2012 Design and Engineering Award Honoree for its Wireless Back-up Camera. Sponsored by the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the prestigious Innovations Design and Engineering Awards have been recognizing achievements in product design and engineering since 1976. Products in 32 categories are judged by a preeminent panel of independent industrial designers, engineers and members of the media.”

The Magellan Wireless Back-up Camera is available from the Magellan Store for $149.99.  You can find out more about the CES Innovations Awards by visiting this page on the CES website.

Magellan RoadMate 9055-LM Review

Posted by Mike Dell at 12:49 PM on August 28, 2011

I have reviewed at least a dozen different GPS devices over the past 5 years, but have never reviewed a Magellan GPS. Immediately upon opening the box I could tell that the Magellan RoadMate 9055-LM was not your normal GPS. The first thing that grabbed my attention was the 7 inch touch screen that was at least 25% bigger than any GPS device I have used in the past.

Over the past several weeks I have used this GPS on trips to both Texas and New Mexico. It was very easy to setup (less than 5 minutes) and use straight our of the box. I was able to navigate the menu system with ease. The menu flow to input destination was very streamlined.

One of the features printed on the box, that did catch my attention was this GPS comes with lifetime map updates! Some of the other GPS units I have reviewed the map updates where often as much as a $100.00 per year.

One of the features I like to use while on travel is what I bill the attractions feature. I am always looking for places to stop and explore. The Magellan RoadMate 9055-LM did not let me down. This unit included a built-in AAA TourBook guide, that gives you ratings and descriptions on AAA-approved places to stay, play, dine, and more. This feature really set the unit apart from others I have tested.

I travel a great deal, and spend at least 1 week each month in a rental car, even though I travel the volume of phone calls I need to make do not diminish. Some rental cars have Bluetooth built in, and some don’t. It is always a pain to get them configured and usually delays my departure from the rental car location for 10-15 minutes, but now I do not have to be delayed as the 9055-LM has Hands free Bluetooth built in. It has an excellent microphone and of course the speaker works great.

Because this units screen size was so large, I was a little concerned in using it in a mid-sized car. My recommendation is that if you have a SUV or larger vehicle this GPS will be fine. For a mid sized car the screen was a little bit to big. But looking at other Magellan RoadMate series they have units with smaller screens with the same exact features.

One thing I hate about the GPS built into my Luxury Mazada CX9 is that it’s slow. My in car GPS seems it is always a street behind on it’s navigation. So I ran some head to head test with my cars built in GPS against the Magellan Roadmate. Not surprisingly the Magellan unit simply kicked my own in cars system butt!  Pretty sad but maybe the folks at Mazda should talk to the folks at Magellan.

This unit retails at $299.00 and is worth every penny and then some. I have only touched the surface on all of the available features but I can tell you that Magellan RoadMate GPS devices will be sitting on our car dashes.

Magellan Partners with AAA, Upgrading GPS to Travel Guide

Posted by Andrew at 11:16 PM on February 8, 2011

Looking back, the conversion of GPS from a military weapon to a ubiquitous consumer gadget is one of the defining technologies of the last twenty years and Magellan has been at the forefront of GPS technology since 1986, so it knows a thing or two about getting from A to B. Andy McCaskey gets some pointers on the direction of the GPS market from William Strand, Senior Product Manager for Magellan.

William demos the new Magellan RoadMate 9055, which is a tablet-style GPS with a 7″ screen, real-time traffic info and Bluetooth, a new generation of larger GPS units which go beyond just navigation and become travel guides. Magellan have exclusively partnered with AAA to include their TourBook guides in the RoadMate, giving ratings for places to visit, eat and stay. Available now for a penny shy of $300.

To finish, Andy and William discuss the relative merits of dedicated GPS devices versus GPS-enabled smartphones. Watch the video to find out what they think.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News.

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