September 12, 2011
- Sturdy construction & design
- Large 7-inch display
- Lifetime map & traffic updates
- AAA TourBook database
- Bluetooth & hands-free calling
- Predictive type may limit input
- Speaker sounds "tinny"
The Magellan RoadMate 9055-LM is touchscreen GPS that has a massive 7-inch display, a AAA TourBook, a 6 million points of interest guide, highway lane assist and more. There is also Bluetooth connectivity for hand-free calling, free lifetime map updates and real-time traffic.
Last month we reviewed the Magellan RoadMate 5175T-LM, which is a 5-inch GPS that had a really attractive design and a lot of the same features that this 9055-LM model has, except for Bluetooth. This model, however, has a huge 7-inch screen, which is great for a pickup truck, SUV, RV, a large boat or any vehicle with a large windshield. If you intend to use this GPS in a smaller car, you'll want to get a smaller model because this screen is simply too large and will block your vision.
The whole unit measures 7.6 x 4.5 x 0.8-inches (whd) and weighs about 12-ounces, which again is quite large and a little heavy in hand. The design of the unit is pretty basic, with a black plastic bezel around the screen and silver plastic on the back. The 7-inch display does have very good resolution and as a result, produces very crisp images that are easy to read and with good brightness. The touchscreen input on this model was much more responsive than the 5175T-LM model that we mentioned earlier, which was our biggest gripe about it.
The car mount is a suction-cup type mount that is rather complex in nature, but is constructed very well and seems quite solid. It's a little tricky to setup at first, but once you get the hang of it, you'll be impressed. 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.
On the top, you'll find the power button in the form of a slider switch and 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 Magellan software that this model uses is the standard software they use across all their GPS units, but this one has a few enhancements that we will go through. We need to mention our problem with the QuickSpell feature, which is a predictive type feature that guesses and suggests what city and street name that you're typing by making only certain letters on the keyboard available. It does this by searching its database of city and street names, but we ran into an issue of not being able to type in our own city name. One of the addresses that we tried was in "Macomb, MI", but by the time we typed "Macomb", the GPS automatically chose a city with the same name in Illinois, which wasn't what we wanted. We couldn't even override the predictive type feature and instead had to input our city name by using the zip code. We even tried to type "Macomb Township", which is another name for our area, but we couldn't get past its suggestion for Macomb, IL and it wasn't because the city is new or anything because it's been named this for at least 15 years. This was our only problem with this feature, so hopefully it's a rarity.
Other than that, you get the ability to search by address or name of destination. You can also search the 6 million points of interest database, which also includes a AAA TourBook. The TourBook lets you perform searches in five categories: Accommodations/Travel, Attractions, Destinations, Events and Restaurants. Choosing a category will search near your current position (or an area that you specify) for destinations and give you detailed information about each one. For example, a restaurant listing includes their address, phone number, AAA rating, priciness, a fairly detailed description, hours and parking/accepted credit cards. Next to each listing, you can see the distance and a button to display their phone number, which you can choose to have dialed on your phone if it is connected via Bluetooth.
You may also search for destinations by selecting one of 28 categories from Magellan's own POI database, which includes things like restaurants, gas, automotive services, ATM/banks, grocery, hotels, parking and much more. You may also search by name here too. Magellan's own POI database doesn't give you any of the details that the AAA TourBook does beyond their address and phone number, but keep in mind that the AAA guide is much more limited in scope.
Paring a phone to the RoadMate 9055-LM was easy over Bluetooth, just enable Bluetooth on both units and it will do the rest. Once paired, you can choose to import your phone contacts to the GPS and store them in your address book, which makes them available for hands-free calling. You can type in a phone number on the GPS screen, choose a contact from a list or use voice control to dial and call. The microphone and speaker on the GPS become activated and we found the speaker to be a little "tinny" but of average quality. The microphone produced good quality audio according to our caller too.
While entering your destination, you can choose what type of route you want to use: fastest time, shortest distance, mostly freeways, 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, aside from the street names that are unusually complex. The unit will automatically calculate a new route if you miss a turn or make a wrong turn and it did so quite fast. Once you get to your destination, the unit will ask you if you need to search for parking, which can be especially handy in a downtown city location where parking comes only in the form of garages.
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.
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. 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. 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.
When planning your trip, you can setup multiple stops and either manually choose what order to place them in or let the GPS determine the most effective route, which reduces gas use and saves time.
Battery life is only about 30 minutes, so using it without a power source in pedestrian mode is rather useless because of the limited battery life.