August 9, 2011
- Attractive design
- Lifetime map & traffic updates
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- 6 million POI & AAA database
- Screen responsiveness problems
- Limited Web browsing
The Magellan RoadMate 5175T-LM is one of the latest GPS navigation devices that offers free lifetime traffic and map updates, built-in Wi-Fi, AAA travel resources and a database of 6 million points of interest. It also has a large 5-inch touchscreen, text-to-speech and wireless Web browsing.
The Magellan RoadMate 5175T-LM measures 5.75 x 0.5 x 3.5-inches (wdh) and is the thinnest GPS device that we've tested to date. It has a really attractive design that made us go "oo and ah" when we opened it up for the first time. The front of the unit has a brushed metal bezel and the back is made of sturdy, hard plastic.
On the top, you'll find the only physical button, which is the power button. On the bottom, there's a mini-USB port (non-proprietary), a microSD card slot and the mounting slot. The USB port is used to both charge the device and to update it with map updates. The unit is preloaded with maps of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico, but you can have access to more maps if you put them on the microSD card.
The car mount is a standard suction cup-type mount but it is built rather nicely. It definitely doesn't feel like it will break if dropped or throw around a little it. The suction cup also forms a strong seal with the windshield thanks to a lever that deforms the suction cup to get a good, tight seal. The GPS slides into the mount via the slot on the back and the USB cable also snaps into the mount, so there's always a sturdy connection that allows for easy and quick storage when not in use. Magellan includes a 12-volt to mini-USB cigarette lighter adapter for powering the device while driving.
A unique feature of the Magellan RoadMate 5175T-LM is the built-in accelerometer, which lets you rotate it horizontally clockwise to view it in portrait mode. This comes in handy when viewing long lists and while surfing the Web. While on the subject of surfing the Web, this GPS has built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can connect it to any wireless network and browse the Internet from the limited Web browser. Because of the screen's resolution, viewing even moderately sized text is either very hard or impossible without zooming. Because of this, its functionality is a little limited.
The 5-inch resistive touch screen gave a very clear and vibrant image, but we felt the touch input to be a little bit lacking. We had numerous occasions where presses would be ignored or delayed. This was especially painful while entering addresses using the on-screen QWERTY keyboard. Also, while panning across a map there were delays in the device's reaction to our finger movements.
The interface of the Magellan software that powers the device is pretty straightforward to use. While in map view, there's a button in the upper right corner for accessing the OneTouch menu and along the bottom, there's a Menu button, zoom buttons and a direction/elevation/speed/time indicator. If real-time traffic is available via the RDS-TMC radio band, it will be displayed along the left edge. Real time traffic updates are free for the life of the device and they cover interstates and major roadways. It worked fairly accurately and a time duration of the delay is also displayed when data is available.
The OneTouch menu is where you can store 15 shortcuts to frequently traveled destinations as well as custom searches. You also get two menus here, one for around your home and one while traveling. The main menu shows icons that let you search by address, browse the 6 million points of interest locations, open the Web browser, view previous destinations and access the TourDirector.
The TourDirector feature lets you look for attractions, restaurants and shopping destinations near your location. This can be helpful when you are in an area that you aren't familiar with because clicking on a destination shows a written description of the location along with some handy basic information, like accepted methods of payment, phone number, hours, disabled access and more. There's also a time estimate for how long a trip to that destination is expected to last.
The AAA feature lets you search AAA-approved destinations, like hotels, events, restaurants and more. Clicking on a restaurant, for example, showed the AAA diamond rating and price cost rating (out of 4 $'s) as well as the address, phone number and basic information. We found the information for hotels to be extremely detailed, from available business services, guest services and information about the rooms that are available.
To start navigation mode, either enter in an address or choose a point of interest from the database. You can choose what type of route to go: fastest time, shortest distance, mostly freeways and least freeways. Next to each option is a estimated time of arrival and a route preview option. While navigating, you'll get turn-by-turn directions that are announced to you vocally. We found the computerize voice to pronounce street names quite clearly and accurately. However, there were some issues with hard to pronounce names, like Schoenherr Road, but it did both display and say both names of a road if it has dual names (example: M-59/Hall Road). The unit will automatically calculate a new route if you miss a turn or make a wrong turn and it did so quite fast. We did notice one issue with the turn-by-turn navigation and it had to do with the "Michigan Left", which is a way to turn left on a divided road not at the intersection, but by means of a crossover a short distance away. While driving straight past all of the crossovers, the GPS kept telling us to "stay right at the fork", but they aren't really forks at all. This problem isn't too horrible since Michigan Lefts are only in Michigan and are sort-of strange to begin with.
You also get lane assist directions when traveling on an interstate while navigating a route. It will tell you which lane to get into ahead of time at large interchanges to correctly execute your route. The road's speed limit is also displayed on the map screen and an audible chime will alert you if you're exceeding the customizable threshold. We found the speed limits to be shown on interstates, major roadways and even most smaller roadways and they were also correct too.
Besides the issue with the Michigan Lefts explained above, we had no issues with the directions that the GPS gave us. The acquisition of GPS signal was speedy in most situations where we had an unobstructed view of the sky. Battery life while not on a power supply is rated to be 2 hours, but we found it to be a little less than that, so this probably isn't the best GPS to use away from the vehicle.