Automotive GPS Systems - Reviews/Comparisons

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I recently purchased two different low-priced portable GPS systems for each of my vehicles, the Magellan Roadmate 1412, and the TomTom One. Each of these systems provides great features for its price and the choice between them is a matter of personal preference. The Garmin Nuvi 200 falls into the same class of entry level GPS systems. What I like and don't like about each are discussed below. You should be able to get most of these GPS ystems for less than $200 (even though list price is higher). With pricing like this, and the features provided, there is hardly any reason to do without a GPS system today.

Garmin Nuvi 265WT4.3yesyesyes$220
Garmin Nuvi 265T3.5yesyesyes$180
Garmin Nuvi 255W4.3yesnoexternal$160
Garmin Nuvi 205W4.3nonoexternal$140
Garmin Nuvi 200W4.3nonono$130
Garmin Nuvi 2003.5nonono$110
TomTom One3.5nonoexternal$120
TomTom One XLS4.3yesnoexternal$150
Magellan RoadMate 14704.7yesnoexternal$180
Magellan RoadMate 14304.3yesnoSubscription$140
Magellan Roadmate 14124.3yesnono$100
Navigon 7200T4.3yesyesyes$180

In general, as a techie, I prefer the TomTom One because it is more configurable, allowing downloads of extensions provided by other users, and sharing of my own map fixes, etc. A tyical user would likely not make use of such features, and the spoken street names and split screen feature on the Magellan Roadmate 1412 woud likely make it the prefered unit.

There are many version of each of these GPS systems, with different features and model numbers. Within a particular line of systems, some features will vary, but the basic operation is likely to be similar. If you are considering different models of these systems, this review is likely still useful, but you will need to look at the specific features of the models you are considering to see if a particular comment is still relevant for comparison. For example, while the TomTom One does not speak street names, the TomTom One XL-S adds that feature as well as the 4.3 inch screen, making it perhaps more comparable to the Magellan Roadmate 1412. While the Magellan Roadmate 1412 does not include a built in traffic receiver, the Magellan Roadmate 1430 does, but you will pay to subscribe after the first three months, while the Garmin Nuvi 265 and Navigon 7200T include the traffic receiver and service for the life of the device.

The TomTom One and the Garmin Nuvi 200 have a smaller 3.5 inch screen than the Magellan 1412 that has a 4.3 inch screen. In typical map mode I do not find the smaller screen to be a limitation, but the Magellan 1412 does take advantage of the lager screen to provide a split screen view when approaching a maneuver along a route: the right side will display the map, and the left side of the screen will display a closeup view in 2D mode of the maneuver you are about to make. The screen of the Garmin Nuvi 200 is extremely bright and easy to read in sunlight conditions.

I found the user interface for the TomTom One to be smoother and more intuitive than that of the Magellan 1412 and the Garmin Nuvi 200. Each interface has its unique functions. Some of the features in the Magellan 1412 that I like include simulator mode (which will review a planned route before you start a trip), easy access to the full list of maneuvers along a route, and trip computer mode, which tracks elapsed time since the last reset, and it allows you to save these values for review at a later time. On the TomTom One I particularly like the ability to make corrections to the map and routing, and to share these corrections with others.

I found the TomTom One to be more cofigurable than the Magellan 1412, including the TomTom's choice of voices and the ability to download voice packages and shared points of interest databases from a community web site.

All three units are capable of being connected to a computer, and charged through a USB cable (as well as an auto-adapter), but the TomTom One comes with the correct USB cable to make this connection while my Magellan 1412, did not come with the cable. The TomTom and Magellan units come with software, but the Magellan software seemed less specific to use of the Magellan 1412 and more suited to integrating the management of map features across multiple units. I found that software difficult to figure out and chose not to use it.

The Magellan 1412 has the ability to speak street names, whereas the TomTom One does not. I did not find this to be an issue for me, but I know others that need the spoken street names, so that is a choice you will have to make. If you like the TomTom, and need the spoken street names, then the TomTom One XL-S may be for you, but it will be a little more expensive. The TomTom One provides many voices to choose from, whereas I could not find that feature on the Magellan 1412.

For users in the United States, I found all units to come with suitable maps (except the Nuvi 200 which omits Alaska) in the device but I do not have specific comments regarding the accuracy or currency of the maps.