There are several ways to find where you are on Planet Earth. Some people like to ask helpful locals, others prefer to find landmarks and chart points on foldable often outdated paper maps; our ancestors used star maps and colossal statues to approximate their location. Luckily you live in the 21st century and have a few more options. The global positioning system or GPS is the premier way to chart your location, get step by step spoken directions and even find the local McDonald’s. These GPS receivers are always decreasing in price and increasing in their features. The real question here is; which one is right for me? And how reliable are they? I seek to answer these questions by comparing two mid price range receivers from two rival GPS companies, Magellan’s Road mate 3000t and the TomTom GO 510. Both receivers sell in retail from $450 – $600. The two receivers are compared according to their interfaces, the extra perks and most importantly, telling you where you are, where you are going and how to get there.
Length 2.5 Height 3.1 Width 4.2 inches
What’s in the Box:
•The GPS receiver
•SD Card: Preloaded with Street level and interstate maps of USA and Canada.
•Carry Case: It does what it says
•Home Dock: To Update the unit when plugged into a USB 2.0 port on your PC/Mac
•Car Charger: To charge in the car when 4 hour battery life is depleted
•Windshield Dock: To dock to your windshield. Like the name implies.
•External Microphone: For phone convos via Bluetooth and for the unit to adjust its own volume
•Instruction Book: For those who opt to know more
Street level detailed maps of all 50 US states and Canada are pre-installed on a SD card. TomTom claims “Door-to-door navigation across the USA and Canada”. You can also plan your route to fit your preference, or tolerance level with options like quickest or shortest traveling time, avoidance of toll roads and a time limit if you want to get to the party by 8 pm. Once you program your route which is really just typing on the keypad, the unit displays your route and any points of interests (POI) along the way. There are allegedly over 6 million poi’s preprogrammed onto the TomTom’s SD card separated into categories like restaurant, parking garage, movie theater or gas station of which you can search by proximity to current location, on your route, near a specific city, etc. When I first used this gadget I inputted my town (Wantagh N.Y.) and it came up with literally every gas station and eatery in a half mile radius. I was impressed to say the least. If you lose your way along the road for those of us that are too busy trying to figure out how to work this device, the TomTom will automatically reroute you and attempt to get you back on track. If you decide to buy the TomTom 510, remember to subscribe to the 18 month free trial of traffic jam alerts which constantly updates traffic info to help avoid any and all gridlocks on the way to Aunt Bessie’s house for Thanksgiving dinner.
The interface of TomTom 510:
The TomTom 510 has one on/off button and a release button. Its entire user interface is through a touch screen which is easy to navigate. The main “soft buttons” on the touch screen are select, a 3D viewing and the graphics on the TomTom 510 come displayed on an extra wide anti-glare screen that uses a built-in sensor to adjust to the changing in car and out of car light.
Bluetooth is the big seller on this unit. Once you sync your Bluetooth capable phone to the unit you can make and receive calls directly from the unit. When a call comes in, the gps voice automatically cuts off or you can set it to play low in the background. You can also view, send and receive your text messages and upload your entire phone book to it. If you are really worried about getting those annoying cell phone while driving tickets, available in many states, an option to automatically answer all calls after the first ring is available for real hands free talking. You can also set the Bluetooth to automatically connect to your phone which would override any other Bluetooth device, most likely a headset, which it was previously connected to. The decent built in speaker allows you to listen to MP3’s if you decide to get the one with a 4gd hard drive or put them on an Sd card but you can also connect it to the car stereo using the audio cable into your auxiliary jack. If you already have Bluetooth installed in your car you can stream the MP3’s into your stereo system which is probably of a fairly higher quality then the speakers on the TomTom. There is also a car linked speed volume control which utilizes the built-in microphone which notes the noise level in the car and adjusts the volume of voice instructions so if your kids are yelling along to the latest Kids Bops hit, your gps will try to drown them out. It also displays air temperature, pressure and humidity. With a decidedly smarter step the TomTom Euro version has a traffic camera alert system, which notifies the driver when there is a camera coming up. Also, for those of you who want to learn a new language the extremely hard and confusing way, the TomTom also comes in 36 different languages in 50 different voices. When it comes down to it, this Unit is superb and easy to use especially for those who opt to forgo the features of the TomTom 910, which has a 40 gigabyte hard drive and maps of most of the civilized world.
Length 3.8. Height 4.8 Width1.4 inches
What’s in the Box:
•The GPS receiver
•Road Mate Tools CD: The finer details of navigating your way around this receiver.
• Music & Photo Managers: Organizes your play lists and photos
• Windshield Mount: For mounting
• Cigarette adapter: For charging the Li-Ion Battery when 6 hour battery life runs out.
• USB cable: For transfers and updates between PC/Mac and the receiver
• Quick reference guide and manual on CD-ROM: CD-ROM has more detailed info.
You can search from 6 million poi’s, already installed on the unit, to find anything nearby. When you highlight a poi you can automatically get directions to there from your current location. The built-in map shows your location, destination and route in a “birds-eye” 3D for a clear view of your surroundings. You distance to destination, estimated time of arrival, GPS signal strength and see the distance and direction for the next turn. The smart detour feature will also allow you to bypass bumper to bumper traffic. When you slow down below 15 mph an icon will pop up asking you whether you want to reroute around the traffic and by how many miles.
A small satellite-shaped icon in the upper right corner shows GPS signal strength and status; and your current direction of travel is displayed in the lower left corner. The current road is displayed across the top. A tap on the satellite icon brings up three screens of detailed GPS-status information and for the sci tech obsessed, how many satellites you are currently connected to. The destination button to open the Destination menu, offers a selection of addresses, favorites, and Poi’s. If you select POI, you can spell the name of your POI, choose one of your imported custom POIs, or select from any of the 37 categories. Within those categories, you can choose the place nearest to your position, by city, or simply spell the name. Some categories, such as Dining, have subcategories such as type of cuisine and even Chinese food, a feature which I particularly was fond of. The quick spell feature is a kind of predictive text which, as you type, dims out characters that aren’t used in the available choices. Once you select your destination, you can choose between the shortest route and the quickest route, with the most and the least use of freeways; to avoid toll roads. You can go back and change your routing preferences any time and force a route recalculation much like the TomTom 510. One thing this receiver has is a shrinking “status bar” which regresses in length per time elapsed to your next maneuver.
The Road Mate 3000T also allows for multiple-segment trips and can even optimize trips of three or more destinations, good when running errands in unknown territory. Also, if speed drops below 15 mph while driving on a freeway, a detour icon pops up. When you touch the pop-up icon and you can opt to detour around the congestion by your own choice of miles.
Interface of 3000t:
There are three buttons in a row across the top of the unit: One for power-on/off/sleep mode, one for zooming in, and one for zooming out. There’s also a volume control on the top which, when pressed, will cause the 3000T to repeat the last voice announcement. On the right-hand side of the unit, there’s a “Locate” button that will pop up a screen with your current location. You can also save your current location with another soft button tap.
This unit has 4-gigabytes of internal memory for preloaded detailed mapping of 50 U.S. States, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, and Canada. It also has over 6 million point’s of interest for things like restaurants, gas stations, shopping, ATM’s and much more. An SD slot is built right into the side that will let you add MP3 or jpeg photo files but you can also store these onto the hard drive. This particular unit does not have Bluetooth technology but spend another $100 and you can buy the 6000t which does and has maps of most of the civilized world preloaded.
In conclusion the main differentiating points between these two units are Bluetooth technology and the hard drive. Many people like the hard buttons on the Magellan but choose the hands free calling option on the 510. Since now you’re armed to the teeth with this multitude of product information, go to your local Radio shack and impress your salesman. You’ll have no trouble finding your way back.