I passed on my old Magellan Maestro 3225 (reviewed last year) not long ago to one of my sisters when I got exasperated with its inability to properly find my work location (I started a new job last May) or the library (we got a new downtown center in 2007), and she moved and started job-hunting. My plan was the same as the last time I bought a GPS: Get the cheapest reasonable-looking one at Costco (for their good return policy), and if it wasn’t perfect, at least it wouldn’t have cost an annoyingly large sum. So I looked at their online store and read reviews of their cheaper models, and thought I’d probably get a Garmin running around $129 — sure, the last one I’d had froze up and then decided to live a rich fantasy life in Kansas (I could never get it to accept that no, we were still on the East Coast, not back where it had originally been manufactured), but their software was bound to be better by now, right? and I could always return it to Costco if not, like before. Certainly the reviews looked good.
However, when I got to my local Costco, I was seduced by another Magellan — the Roadmate 1212 was selling there for a mere $89.00! Seriously! I’ve been driving around with it for a few weeks now, and thought I’d share my impressions.
Pros: Good battery life, fast address entry, highly readable screen/display, clear voice, reasonably good directions for the most part. The UI is pretty much the same as my old Magellan, as far as I can tell. This Magellan seems to have more POIs pre-programmed in than the last one.
Best improvement: The address entry is screamingly fast compared to the other three GPS units I’ve used before. Type-ahead, looks locally first, and simply fast fast fast. In the parking lot at the store, it fired up before I put it on the charger (the on button is on top, not on the side like the old one, oops) and figured out where it was very quickly. I programmed in the first two names of my home’s town (one over from the town we were in at the moment) and it filled in the rest of the town name/state, bam! and paused for me to confirm before going on to the street name. As soon as I’d put in the first two letters of the street, it gave me a choice of the four streets that started that way; no waiting required.
Cons: power plug design, still doesn’t know where my job or the library are. The latter is disappointing, but easy to get around by just setting map points and programming those in to my address book instead of the street addresses. The power plug, however, makes the cable coming out of the GPS point straight back, stiffly, in a way that I can’t just fit it on the tiny shelf in front of a dashboard dial I don’t care about. I don’t like fooling with the mounting gear, and the dial solution had worked fine with my old Magellan (it leaned back and never fell out).
On the whole, I would say the Magellan Roadmate 1212 is great value for money.