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An Very Inexpensive Aftermarket Navigation Solution


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After using a Magellan "Hertz Neverlost" navigation system in a rental Infinity M35 during an eight day trip in Massachusetts in May, I decided to buy a Magellan Roadmate 2200T at Costco last week for less than $250. For now, I have given up on finding my "perfect" phone/PDA/navigation solution.

As far as I can tell, 2200T has features that are very similar to the Hertz Neverlost system except that the 2200T has a touch screen that makes it much easier to enter addresses. The main thing missing from the 2200T is that it does not have a direct selection to navigate to Hertz locations.

Most surprising is that the 2200T - it has the latest SirfstarIII chipset -- can quickly acquire 10 or 11 satellites regardless of whether it is attached to its windshield mount or held in my lap in my LS400. It can even acquire 8 - 9 satellites inside my house! My almost new handheld Garmin GPS - made for hiking - can not acquire any satellites unless it is outside and has a clear view of the sky.

I quickly found (again) that I hate having a navigation device attached to the windshield. It blocks the forward view somewhat - a safety issue - and mounting it on the windshield requires removing the mount to use a windshield sun shield on hot summer days.

Some of the attached photos show the 2200T attached to the windshield and one shows where I will soon mount it just above my phone console on a Pro.Fit Legend bracket ( http://www.pro-fit-intl.com/ ) which I ordered today. I purchased a second $10 2200T mounting plate and a second DC power cord from Magellan and will run the power cord up through the phone console so that there will be no wires dangling about. I will reserve the articulating windshield mount for use in rental cars. The Magellan mounting plate has the standard AMPS hole pattern that matches perfectly to most phone brackets.

BTW, the Pro.Fit Legend bracket has an integrated swivel that will allow the GPS to be tilted towards the passenger seat. I expect that my wife will be using the GPS more than I will while I am driving.

The Magellan 2200T also has a photo viewer and can play MP3's and audio books -- I am not going to try to connect it to my Nakamichi system. The Magellan accepts the SD card from my Dell PDA and it is possible to listen to the stored music on the SD card with headphones.

The 2200T does not have Bluetooth and can not dial POIs; it does not come with a "traffic" receiver although one is an optional add-on -- I was not looking for any of these features.

I am not "advertising" for Magellan or encouraging others to buy one. Mainly, I am surprised at how far prices have fallen for products with these kinds of features.

The first thing I did when I got the Magellan home was to download the latest software to it -- took only 10 minutes. That certainly can't be done with an in-dash OEM GPS.

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Does the rental M35 come with it's own in-dash navigation? Was just curious of how the Magellan faired up against Infinity systems. I have a Garmin C330 unit. What concerns me the most with these suction cup mounted GPS unit is that the sun on a hot summer day can make the temperature of these little units extremely hot, maybe around 150F-180F. I'm wondering what is the maximum operating temperature for touch-screens in general?

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Does the rental M35 come with it's own in-dash navigation? Was just curious of how the Magellan faired up against Infinity systems. I have a Garmin C330 unit. What concerns me the most with these suction cup mounted GPS unit is that the sun on a hot summer day can make the temperature of these little units extremely hot, maybe around 150F-180F. I'm wondering what is the maximum operating temperature for touch-screens in general?

The Infinity M35 we rented had lots of optional equipment - surprising for a rental car - but it did not have the OEM navigation system. I did not care much for the M35. The controls were not intuitive and the car rode very harshly -- even with its standard 18 inch tires set at the recommended pressure. The interior was very roomy and I loved the "keyless go" and not having to take the key out of my pocket to unlock the doors or start the car.

But back to the subject. According to the specs, the Magellan 2200T has an operating temperature range of from 14 to 140 degress F (-10 to 60 C). I would hope that the unit could take a little higher temperature when it is off but I don't plan to press my luck. I always use a sunscreen to protect the dash (summer and winter) when I park outside and it is too much trouble to attach a nav unit to the windshield each time I enter the car.

If I have a nav unit I want it to be available at a moment's notice and not have to mount it only when I need to use it. That is why I am going the mount the Magellan on a bracket by the radio just above my phone console. Besides that, my wife can not reach a windshield mounted nav -- she doesn't have my "gorilla arms".

As of a few months ago, the local Lexus dealer was still installing Garmin C330's in Lexus cars without OEM nav. The dealer usually installs the C330 in front of the tachometer which is probably OK for 99% of people who probably never use the tach anyway.

Other than its touch screen, size and low price, the other main reason that I bought the Magellan 2200T is that it speaks the street names instead of only saying "turn left" or "turn right". After using several portable nav systems and the Hertz Neverlost system without this feature, I have found the "text to speech" feature to be one of the most important featurs for a nav system to have.

Like any genuine car nut, I took photos of the Infinity M35 we rented. Here is a photo of the dash. I will mount the Magellan 2200T in my LS in about the same relative position as the Hertz Neverlost nav is mounted in this M35.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Congrats Jim!!! I know this was a long time coming! haha What was it that made the Magellan stick out of the pack and win you over? I still toy with the idea of replacing my old Garmin iQue3600 with something a little more modern, but the more reasonable side of me asks why since my Garmin still works wonderfully even on its 2003 software. I guess the idea of updating comes from when I look at the cost to update the software; it's almost as much as a whole new reciever.

My almost new handheld Garmin GPS - made for hiking - can not acquire any satellites unless it is outside and has a clear view of the sky.
I understand where you are coming from here. My Garmin is picky about syncing up with the satellites sometimes! I'm thinking about getting an external antenna to see if that helps me any (I hear good things about them.). I'm anxious to hear how you like the mounting position of the GPS....hanging over the phone! LOL ;) ;) One of the many advantages of a portable GPS: you can enter your destination it while you are driving!!!!!

I sat in an Infiniti M35 once....loved the headroom!! Legroom was better than Lexus (which isn't saying much.), but not up there with the Germans....of course!! They are really good looking cars too...

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Congrats Jim!!! I know this was a long time coming! haha What was it that made the Magellan stick out of the pack and win you over? I still toy with the idea of replacing my old Garmin iQue3600 with something a little more modern, but the more reasonable side of me asks why since my Garmin still works wonderfully even on its 2003 software. I guess the idea of updating comes from when I look at the cost to update the software; it's almost as much as a whole new reciever.
My almost new handheld Garmin GPS - made for hiking - can not acquire any satellites unless it is outside and has a clear view of the sky.
I understand where you are coming from here. My Garmin is picky about syncing up with the satellites sometimes! I'm thinking about getting an external antenna to see if that helps me any (I hear good things about them.). I'm anxious to hear how you like the mounting position of the GPS....hanging over the phone! LOL ;) ;) One of the many advantages of a portable GPS: you can enter your destination it while you are driving!!!!!

I sat in an Infiniti M35 once....loved the headroom!! Legroom was better than Lexus (which isn't saying much.), but not up there with the Germans....of course!! They are really good looking cars too...

OK Blake, I'm frugal and I had to think about buying a portable nav for a LONG time.

By now I think I've read every portable nav review on the Internet. First I spent months searching for the "perfect" "price no object" Windows Mobile PDA phone that would efficiently run a navagation program -- but putting all my eggs in one basket increasingly looked liked a very bad idea. Then I homed in on a Garmin Nuvi that included maps for Europe -- but by the time we go again (next summer), who knows what portable nav products will be available -- nav products are morphing quickly.

For hundreds of dollars less than the least expensive Nuvi that can say street names, and with a similar but slightly larger form factor, I couldn't pass up the Magellan 2200T. Today I even got a $30 refund from Costco which bought the price down to only $219. I suspect by next summer I will buy a portable GPS with European maps and that the Magellan will go into my wife's Camry and for her to use in rental cars when she travels on business - which can be one or two weeks each month.

Another plus for the 2200T is that it includes Canada -- we'll be wandering around Ontario this fall on a family history tour visiting cemeteries and former family farms. The Garmin Nuvi 200 I saw at Target today ($399.99) does not include Canada -- and it does not say the street names.

The "closer" on the Magellan was spending about 45 minutes in Costco entering addresses from my PDA into the Magellan in "simulation" mode and watching the Magellan simulate the trips including the voice instructions.

And it didn't hurt that the Magellan can handle a multiple stop trip -- none of the Garmin Nuvis can do that. And the Megellan is ready navigate in only 1 second when started up at the same location where it was turned off -- no waiting at all.

I'll see if my positive opinion of the Magellan 2200T holds up after 10 days driving around Florida -- we leave tomorrow morning. With my (good) luck, our Hertz rental car may come with a nav whether I want one or not.

Regarding the Infinity M35, one nice feature is the way the drivers seat automatically slides all the way back after turning off the engine and opening the driver's door. I'm 6' tall and could not reach the pedals with the driver seat all the way back. I also liked the ventilated seats but I disliked the I-Drive type control on the dash. But I sure loved the "keyless go" -- took a while to get use to using an ignition key again when we got home to our own cars.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I'm back from using the Magellan Roadmate 2200T GPS for 10 days in a Honda Accord rental car in southern Florida where it let us down only once when it could not find what turned out to be a really awful restaurant in Homestead Florida. The Magellan did a great job getting us to a number of destinations in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale and it was even of value in Key West where we used it to find various restaurants and points of interest regardless of whether we were driving or walking.

One unexpected benefit of having a GPS is the effect it has on my obsessive wife who is paranoid about getting to the airport in plenty of time on the day we leave. On our last day in Florida, my wife could always look at the Magellan's screen and see exactly how far we were from the airport by the fastest route and how long it would take us to get there. It made the last day a lot more pleasant.

Attached is a photo of the 2200T mounted in our 00 LS on a Pro.Fit Legend bracket that I installed yesterday. Although the Pro.Fit bracket has a built-in swivel, I found that moving it around quickly loosened the screw holding the swivel to the bracket. So...it is necessary to decide what position you want the swivel base to be in and then very firmly tighten the screw. Although I had hoped my wife could swivel the GPS towards her for easier use, I decided to point it directly towards the driver's seat since I will often be alone in the car. My wife can always lean a little to the left to get a better view of the screen.

When I have more time, I will hide the power cord for the GPS behind the carpet on the transmission tunnel and connect it to a DC extension cable that I will connect to the wire leading to the center console auxilary power outlet -- I ran out of time last night.

Overall, I am very happy with this inexpensive GPS. And, if I want a nicer GPS unit, it will be easy to install a different GPS unit on the Pro.Fit bracket and to hide its power cable -- doing so will require only removing/reinstalling the phone console and the wood panel/ashtray assembly in the center console -- should take less 30 minutes to install a different GPS.

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  • 5 weeks later...

i just got a garmin nuvi 660. Its awesome. it was $600 but well worth it. I travel alot and I'm always on the go. It has bluetooth, traffic,an fm transmitter and an MP3 player, along with a couple other niceties.

Personally i'm still a fan of cassette adapters so all i do is connect it through the adapter, pair it with my phone through bluetooth, and load up my mp3's on it. I was gonna get a basic tomtom but after i tried out this thing... i couldnt give up the features from the NUVI.

I LOVE the Points of interest too. I was in augusta ga the other day and was craving some Chinese food on a budget. Found one 3 miles away. Even called em through my phone with bluetooth. Except for the unsightly chords i absolutely love portable gps systems.

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  • 2 months later...
OK Blake, I'm frugal and I had to think about buying a portable nav for a LONG time.
I certainly didn't mean to imply anything by what I said. I was mostly getting at it must be nice to enjoy the fruits of your labor because I know a lot of reading went in to this decision. ;) I know I told you that it would take me forever to pick one of these out too!

That sure is a great price that you paid for your GPS. The best I could find was around $300 for a brand new one ($170 or something for a refurb, but I don't want that.). After having the Magellan for a few months, any further remarks about it?? Thanks!

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OK Blake, I'm frugal and I had to think about buying a portable nav for a LONG time.
I certainly didn't mean to imply anything by what I said. I was mostly getting at it must be nice to enjoy the fruits of your labor because I know a lot of reading went in to this decision. ;) I know I told you that it would take me forever to pick one of these out too!

That sure is a great price that you paid for your GPS. The best I could find was around $300 for a brand new one ($170 or something for a refurb, but I don't want that.). After having the Magellan for a few months, any further remarks about it?? Thanks!

Blake, I certainly didn't take any offense at your comment. Funny, as I get older I seem to take longer and longer to make up my mind to buy anything. I guess I have so much "stuff", I hate the idea of acquiring even more "stuff" to take care of.

The Magellan 2200T is pretty short on POIs and, like many GPS products, does not know about neighborhoods that have been built in the last few years. The most nagging issue is that the screen does not dim enough at night when the display automatically goes into "night mode". Even in "night mode" the display seems to light up the entire car interior and is distracting. The only way I have found to tone done the display's light output at night is to put the display in maximum battery saving mode (20% of maximum light output) and unplug the power cable from the Magellan. Even then it is a little too bright.

Magellan customer service has been a disappointment. I ordered an extra power cord about July 1 to use in rental cars and it still has not arrived as of today (Oct 27) -- just shy of four months! Good thing the battery has an unusually long life on a charge -- about 8 hours.

Another interesting development is that it is now taking much longer to acquire satellites than when the 2200T was new. I've seen posts from others on GPS forums complaining about the same thing. When it was new, the Magellan would acquire enough satellites to be ready to navigate in only 5 to 10 seconds -- truly amazing. Now, it seems to take about 60 seconds. I wonder if the software update I did on it shortly after I bought it slowed down satellite acquisition.

The Magellan is still very useful. I've bailed out of bumper to bumper traffic on main roads into residential neighborhoods on several occasions and the Magellan has - so far - gotten me to my destination. It got me to the nephew's soccer game in Iowa a few weeks ago and to the Pizza parlor between matches to pick up the food -- never would have found the hole-in-the-wall Pizza place without the GPS and it was even in the POI database.

I used to think these GPS devices were merely crutches for the geographically challenged. Now I wouldn't drive without one.

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