July 8, 2013
- Good-looking design
- Yelp & Foursquare databases
- Bright display
- Fast performance
- Display could have been larger
- On-screen keyboard needs work
The Magellan SmartGPS is the first true 'smart' GPS as it utilizes Wi-Fi or your smart phone's data connection to interact with Magellan's Cloud service to get Yelp and Foursquare content, live traffic and other alerts. It also has a premium design and a new interface that is extremely interactive.
The SmartGPS measures 6.3 x 3.5 x 0.5-inches (whd) and weighs just over 0.75-inches. The front face edges have a silver plastic lip and the on the back, a diamond design gives the GPS a premium look and feel. The front of the GPS has only one button: a touch-sensitive Home button in the upper left corner. The 5-inch touch screen could have actually been a little larger (mostly wider) because the bezel around the display is quite thick.
Speaking of the screen, it has a resolution of 800 x 480-pixels and it looks quite good. The display's brightness was quite good and colors were bright. The capacitive touch screen aspect of the display needs some work, however. During our use, especially while using the on-screen keyboard, we frequently experienced the wrong letter being selected. But while interacting with the larger tiles and other interface elements, things worked more smoothly.
The SmartGPS feature of this GPS is Magellan's major selling point. Most of today's GPS devices are standalone devices that do not have much of a connection beyond GPS. With the SmartGPS, it is a cloud-based platform that has a large database of always-updating location-relevant content. When you are connected to the cloud service, you get access to Yelp and Foursquare points of interest (and associated reviews/information) as well as traffic data and fuel prices from nearby gas stations.
To get this setup, you have to connect the GPS to your smart phone via Bluetooth, which was extremely easy and worked on first try with our Apple iPhone 5. Once connected, the GPS will use your smart phone's 3G/4G/LTE data connection to download interactive content, location-based information, traffic data and fuel prices. You do not need a separate data package for this, but it does use your phone's data plan, so it will consume data from your plans allotment.
Also while your smart phone is connected via Bluetooth, you can use the GPS as a way to make and receive phone calls through your connected device. It acts as a Bluetooth hands-free speaker phone and the speaker is quite loud and sounded clear.
The interface of the Magellan SmartGPS is one that is brand new. On the left side is where the map is located, which shows your current location as well as any upcoming direction prompts. It also shows your current speed and the road's speed limit (if available). On the right side of the screen, you'll find squares that show traffic info, route information and interactive content from Yelp and Foursquare for nearby locations. You can also adjust the amount of interactive tiles showing, including none to have the map show full screen.
If you want to search for nearby points of interest, just select "Go To..." at the bottom of the interface and you can search by category (gas, restaurants, shopping, etc) and then by subcategory (for restaurants, for example: American, Mexican, Italian, etc.). You may also search by name or address if you know it. The search process is very quick and searched first nearby then expands if necessary. The database contains 7 million points of interest.
While in route navigation mode, you get spoken turn-by-turn directions in addition to landmark guidance. This means that in addition to street names, you hear things like "In 500 feet, turn right at the Shell gas station". There is also lane assistance, which shows you which lane to get into while navigating on multi-lane highways.
With this GPS, you get free lifetime map updates and traffic alerts, which are both extremely useful. There is 4GB of built-in storage memory, but this can expanded with a microSD memory card. Inside the box you get a suction cup mount, a vehicle power adapter and a microUSB to USB cable for syncing.