The low-priced Magellan RoadMate 1200 skimps on the extras, but it's a pleasure to use while driving. This budget model features easy-to-read menus and maps and a helpful split-screen view that displays your next turn along with the 3D map.
Bulky Design, Simple Interface
While slim, this RoadMate is nearly as large as the window mount that comes with it. The display measures 3.5 inches diagonally, and the casing is all black in color.
Even those new to GPS devices will find Magellan's menus easy to understand. Big icons lead you to the most commonly used choices, such as entering an address or choosing a point of interest. Small icons on the bottom of the menu let you quickly set your course for home or get your bearings, so you can tell a tow truck where to find you.
The RoadMate offers an especially small POI database of only 1.3 million entries. Its limitations showed themselves frequently in our testing, such as when it couldn't find a Target store that had been around for three years--or when it did find an Italian restaurant that's been gone even longer. The POI and address interfaces have a helpful QuickSpell feature, though, which makes text input faster by autocompleting your entries or graying out unneeded keys on the screen. Other than POIs, a trip-planning feature lets you create a route with multiple stops and edit existing routes.
How It Drives
The RoadMate offers only one voice, and unfortunately, it doesn't pronounce street names. Navigating is still easy, however, thanks to the well-designed, colorful maps. They have just the right friendly, easy-to-read appearance, with your route outlined in bright green. Info on the map view lets you know where your next turn is and how long you have left in your trip. When you approach a difficult intersection, the screen automatically switches to a split view, with one side showing how you'll turn and the other offering a map view.
We wish the RoadMate were a little faster at rerouting. Miss a turn and it takes the device between 15 and 20 seconds to recalculate your route. Equally bad, the screen freezes during the recalculation, so you can't track your position during that time.
Because of its weak POI database and sluggish rerouting, we wouldn't recommend the RoadMate 1200 for those who need to depend on a GPS device every day. But if you need directions for the occasional longer trip, then the RoadMate is a good choice: It provides reliable directions, is very affordable, and is easy enough to use that you won't need a refresher course every time you pack your bags.