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.