Magellan RoadMate 1340 Review

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$179

Pros: Runs favorite searches quickly; Lane assistance; Text to speech

Cons: Outdated AAA event information; Some lag between map position and actual position; No Bluetooth

Verdict: This GPS navigator sports an excellent interface and useful features for a good price.

Magellan has come a long way in the past few years. The Maestro line offered substantial interface improvements over previous navigators, and now the company has taken it a step further with the 1340's useful OneTouch interface. Although this device's GPS performance could be better, you get a good deal for your money.

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Design and Interface

An attractive compact navigator, the 1340 has a 3.5-inch screen and an elegant black-and-silver casing. It comes with a small yet sturdy window mount and a power cord, and the navigator is easy to stow away when it's not in use.

Magellan has done a good job of packaging the 1340 with the most useful features: The navigator pronounces street names (although in only one computerlike voice), helps you get in the correct lane for turns, and lets you run point-of-interest (POI) searches quickly. What you won't find, however, are Bluetooth connectivity, media playback tools, or 3D maps.

Every screen on the 1340 includes a small OneTouch icon in the upper right corner. Tap it to see a menu of frequently used choices, such as a previous destination list or a gas station search. You can customize this page with a few of your favorite searches, which can be a real timesaver for those who choose to do it.

Maps and Navigation

The RoadMate 1340's software rivals Garmin's in its overall simplicity. The main screen offers four large icon choices: Go To, View Map, Local Options, and Settings. Entering an address or running a search is fast thanks to the QuickSpell feature, which shows only the letters possible for whatever you're typing. The screen requires an extra firm touch, however, compared with other GPS devices.

While driving, we found the map view cleanly organized and appreciated the bright colors. Because the map view is intentionally sparse, you won't see all the information you need at a glance, but when you tap the distance remaining counter in the lower left corner the 1340 will show you the time remaining.

Although the 6 million POI database felt mostly up-to-date, we noticed a few local problems, including a listing for a video rental store that was long gone, a Starbucks and a Hyatt that were a block from their given locations, and the wrong location for Jersey City's famous Colgate clock. Rerouting took between 5 and 10 seconds, and we often noticed a slight lag between our real position and the map position.

Extras

The 1340 offers lane assistance for highway driving, which shows how quickly a midrange perk can appear on a budget device. The interface here is different from those on Navigon or TomTom devices, though: when you approach an exit, the screen shows highway signs with lane arrows, letting you know which lane you'll need to reach your destination; the incorrect one is grayed out. We found this information to be perfectly clear while driving.

We also like the inclusion of branded search, which let us check exclusively for certain chain restaurants or coffee shops, as well as the AAA-recommended repair shops and campgrounds. The local AAA event information, however, was outdated--one of the events listed for June was the Hoboken Christmas tree lighting. Sadly, updates are available to AAA members only, who can download them quarterly from the AAA Web site.

Verdict

A model of simplicity and usefulness, the $179 RoadMate 1340 strikes a fine balance between price and features. If you're looking for a budget-conscious navigator, this is one of the better ones we've seen. Although now that Magellan has dropped the price of the 1440 (which has a larger 4.3-inch screen) to $199, you might want to consider spending $20 more for the extra real estate.

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Laptop Mag & Tom's Hardware
Wi-Fi
Bluetooth
Touch Screen Yes
USB Yes
Serial
Size 7.0 x 3.7 x 3.1 inches
Weight 4.9 ounces
Company Website http://www.magellangps.com