Magellan RoadMate Commercial Truck GPS Navigator 9270T-LM

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.

Touchscreen Kleen Review

Fingerprints are the bane of modern life. You’ve got your beautiful new tablet, you show it to your friends and before you can say, “oleic acid”, there’s a horde of greasy smudges all over the screen. Aaargh!!!

Here at Geek News Central we’ve seen several solutions to this problem, from carbon-based wipes to fashion self-cling pads. Touchscreen Kleen adds to the portfolio: it’s a special-formulated spray combined with a microfibre cloth.

TouchscreenKleen Package

It’s pretty simply to use….turn off the screen, squirt some cleaning solution onto the microfibre cloth and polish the screen with the cloth. Job done.
And it really is that easy. I cleaned tablets, smartphones, LCD monitors and they all came up looking like new, completely smudge free. Very impressed.

The microfibre cloth is washable so if you have to clean a really dirty monitor screen, the grubby cloth can be washed before the next use.

Touchscreen Kleen is available in two sizes, 15 ml and 50 ml, currently on special offer at £3.99 and £5.99 respectively in the online store.

Disclosure – Touchscreen Kleen was provided for review by Screen-Kleen Ltd.

Screen Cleaning with Stickems at The Gadget Show

Keep Calm and Drink Tea StickemIf you have a smartphone, tablet or other fingerprint magnet, there’s a pretty good chance that you’ve also got something to clean your screen, whether it’s a microfibre cloth or carbon-based wiper. However, these all suffer from the same problem….you never have it when you want it. Stickems solve this problem by sticking to the back of your phone or tablet, ready for use at anytime.

Coming in a good range of sizes and patterns, Stickems have ultra fine microfibre cloth on one side to clean the screen of dust, fingerprints, ear smudges and make-up, with a self-cling backing on the other side. The Stickem simply peels off for use and sticks back on when done. Prices range from £2.99 to £4.99.

I caught up with Alex from Stickems at The Gadget Show Live and he told me more. I suspect he hasn’t actually wiped 10,000 times and I don’t think there’s really a guarantee….

Gunnar Digital Performance Eyewear

Gunnar Phenom EyewareGunnar‘s digital performance eyewear is a range of spectacles designed for people who spend too much time in front of a screen. Typically stylish and yellow-lensed, Todd occasionally wears a pair of Gunnars while doing the GNC show.

Joe Croft dropped in to show off the latest specs and Gunnar currently has a four-way line-up with Advanced Computer, Advanced Gaming, Premium 3D and Advanced Outdoor eyewear. As you might guess, three out of the four are primarily for indoor use only.

The Advanced Computer eyewear is for those people who use computer screens all day and the glasses help with the typical symptoms of prolonged computer use, such as a lowering in the blink rate leading to dry eyes, tired eye muscles from short range focussing and poor light quality from fluorescent lights. The technology in Gunnar glasses addresses each of those issues to make the eyes more comfortable while using a computer screen.

The new Spring 2012 collection is now out at Gunnars. Prices from $80 – $300 for standard lenses. Budget up to $700 for custom prescription lenses from Zeiss.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central and Steve Lee of Netcast Studio for the TechPodcast Network.

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Usefulness of Apps

As I continue to live in a world of both Android and iOS apps, I have a few observations. These should serve as lessons for would-be app designers.

The most useful apps are those that take a single to narrow range of tasks that can be accomplished conventionally on a computer browser and squeeze them down into a simple interface that fits into a small touch screen.

Speedtest is a free iPod, iPhone, iPad, iOS app that makes it instantly possible to check Internet connectivity speed. It’s certainly got snazzy graphics, but it’s basic functionality is excellent.

To date, the most useful apps I’ve found revolve around banking, bill-paying and finance. For example, with a few taps on my iPod Touch I can easily log into my local bank’s banking app and check up on the status of checking and saving accounts as well as transfer funds and even pay bills.

I can do the same for credit cards. It’s amazingly simple. Apps such as this are most effective and effecient when common actions taken are quicker, simpler and faster than handling them with a conventional computer and browser. The acid test comes if I reach for the app even though I have an open computer browser in front of me right at my fingertips.

Apps such as these should include all of the primary action-oriented elements present on the main website. If seemingly small elements are left out, it can reduce an app’s usefulness. For example, the iPod/iPhone/iPad/iOS GoDaddy app includes most of the action elements of the GoDaddy.Com website. However, the app neglects to include PayPal as a payment option which ends up forcing me to use the main GoDaddy.Com website anyway – a partial but serious fail.

In short, to make any splash at all, apps must be designed for accomplishing their tasks even better than a conventional computer and browser.

Do you have some apps you believe fall into this category? Let me know in the comments.

Lenspen Sidekick for Apple iPhone and iPod

If you hate fingerprints and smudges on your iPhone or other mobile device, then Sidekick from Lenspen is the product you’ve been waiting for. Using a carbon-based technology, it wipes away oil-based marks like fingerprints from flat screens, leaving them clean and shiny.

New at CES and available soon for $9.95

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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MobileMonitor Presents Monitor2Go & Field Monitor Pro With Keypad Portable 15″ USB Monitors

Lawrence Pensack presents two portable 15.4″ inch USB monitors that are designed to extend the desktop real estate of laptop computers. Monitor²Go, which is available in May, is a USB monitor that sells for $279 dollars.

The Field Monitor Pro With Keypad is available now and sells for $289, includes an integrated numeric keypad. Both monitors are DisplayLink Certified.

It is possible to daisy-chain up to 6 of these monitors for maximum high-performance portable screen real estate. Both units fold up into the shape of standard laptop computers to go into standard laptop bags and weigh about 4 pounds. They are powered with their own power adapters.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central.

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