MAKE:TNT Tools 'n' Tips

Magellan RoadMate 700

Tool photo.

As I drive, my Magellan RoadMate 700's voice prompt tells me when to turn and also recalculates my route if I happen to stray off course. It has a bright, full-color touchscreen display that gives me several ways to choose a destination. The 10MB hard drive contains street details and points of interest for the entire U.S.

The device comes with a vent mount, or you can buy an optional windshield mount. (I recommend that you opt for the windshield mount because it's easier to use.) Power is supplied via the car's cigarette lighter (which is, alas, the only way to power the device; there is no battery). An optional external antenna is available, but I didn't find it necessary because reception was always good, or even excellent. In fact, this RoadMate model seemed to acquire its satellites more quickly than the NeverLost model I rented with my Hertz.

I recently updated to the latest software by downloading a file from the Magellan site, then running the update while my RoadMate was connected to my PC via a USB cable. The update offered numerous new features, such as improved performance, an integrated 3D display, plus the ability to show and route to POIs on the map. The latter ability is very handy if you are driving around trying to find a place like an ATM, gas station, or restaurant. The RoadMate shows POI icons on the map while you're driving, and lets you display their address/telephone info or reroute to them by finger press.

There are two missing features that would be nice to have. One would be routing using real-time traffic conditions (via a wireless data service). The second would be the integration of a restaurant/lodging guide like Zagat or AAA.