Magellan RoadMate 500

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Magellan RoadMate 500

Unlike some GPS receivers, the Magellan RoadMate 500 is designed exclusively with the driver in mind. From its address book and turn-by-turn guidance with voice prompts, to the color touch screen for fast data entry, ease of use is built in.

To take a trip using the RoadMate 500 you need to download a map of the region you're traveling in. The map is stored on a removable CompactFlash (CF) memory card with space for 100 MB of data. Map data is transferred to the card from your computer. The receiver comes with four map CDs, which have detailed coverage of North America, including over two million points of interest. And with the receiver's zoom keys, you can vary the map scale to see more or less detail.

When choosing your destination, the Magellan RoadMate 500 offers two ways to enter data. You can use the keypad or the 2.25" H x 3.0" W touch screen. The screen is a high-resolution color LCD which automatically adjusts the contrast and brightness according to light conditions. The keypad is backlit, so operating at night isn't a problem either. Whichever way you choose to enter data, a keyboard is shown on the screen. You can either touch the letter you want or use the arrow keypad to select the letter with a cursor.

Once you've entered your destination, the RoadMate 500 offers you four ways to get there. You can choose the route with the shortest time, shortest distance, least use of freeways, or most use of freeways. The route will then be calculated and you'll see the map guidance screen.

The guidance screen shows a map of your current location and destination with the route highlighted. The direction, distance, and time to your destination is also shown, as well as the distance to your next turn. If the receiver is picking up a Wide Area Augmentation (WAAS) signal, this is indicated, otherwise the GPS signal strength is displayed. As you travel, the Magellan RoadMate 500 constantly updates your location and other information.

So what happens if you miss a turn when using the RoadMate 500? The receiver will sense that you're off the route and offer you a "Resume" option on the screen. Once you're ready to resume, your route is recalculated to guide you back to your original path. And if you ever miss one of the voice prompts for a turn, there's a repeat key to replay the message.

The heart of the Magellan RoadMate is a 12-channel GPS receiver. WAAS signals are used, when available, to produce a position error of less than three meters. The antenna rotates out of the way when not in use. Power and data transfers are handled with a single interface cable, which is provided. And the power for the unit comes from the vehicle's cigarette lighter. Magellan offers a selection of brackets for mounting the receiver.