Magellan RoadMate RV5365T-LMB GPS Navigator
Of all the practices that modern technology has rendered obsolete, asking for directions is the one I will miss the least. Most people are terrible at giving directions, and while you can usually puzzle out a route with a paper map given enough time, it is still quite easy to become lost. A GPS navigation unit allows you to sidestep both of these issues. It always knows where you are, given access to open sky, and it knows enough about route planning to plot a course that is, if not optimal, at least sensible. GPS navigation is so useful, in fact, that we’ve built it into practically all of our phones now.
Given that, you might wonder why anyone would buy a dedicated GPS unit. The answer to that depends on how often you need to use GPS navigation. For the daily commuter who only occasionally needs help getting to an unfamiliar destination, such a unit would probably be superfluous. For someone who spends a lot of time on the road though, such a unit may well be a necessity. In addition to all the convenience features you get from a purpose-built device, a dedicated GPS unit allows you to free up your phone for other tasks, like taking calls.
Today we’ll be taking a look at the Magellan RoadMate RV5365T-LMB GPS Navigator, which is designed with long trips and large vehicles in mind.
Packaging and A Closer Look
The packaging gives you a clear idea of what this GPS is aimed at: road trips in a RV or large truck. It will work in any size vehicle, of course, but there are some added features present that you wouldn’t see on a car-oriented device.
The provided suction cup mount is meant to stick to your vehicle’s windshield, and holds the device firmly without being excessively difficult to remove. It also has several clips on the back, to hold the charger cable up and out of the way while in use.
The car charger itself is large, and will deliver up to 1A of current at 5V. As there is no clip on the windshield mount to hold the mini-USB plug in a certain orientation, you’ll have to get used to attaching the cable before you clip the unit in place.
Other accessories included with the unit include a regular USB A-to-mini B cable for downloading map updates to the device, quick-start guide, warranty card, and several promotional cards.
The GPS unit itself is a fairly rounded affair, with no front-facing controls. The power button is partially recessed on the top left, and the ports and slots are all lined up along the left edge. Aside from the expected mini-USB port, we see a microSD card slot for map updates, and a port labeled AV Input, whose function we’ll discuss later.
When you first power the unit on, and at every subsequent power on, the GPS unit displays a warning screen whose message boils down to “don’t fiddle with the unit while you’re driving, or stare at it when you should be looking at the road”. There’s no way to disable this, but it only stays up for about 10 seconds. After this, it begins trying to get a fix on any GPS satellites it can see above the horizon, which usually takes a minute or two. Those of you used to using GPS navigation on your smartphones may be surprised at this delay, but it’s inherent to all GPS receivers. Your phone uses aGPS, which cheats a bit by using cellular tower triangulation to supplement the GPS satellite data when it can.
From there it’s good to go, and we can pay a little more attention to the main features of the map screen. The unit defaults to a 3D flyover view of the map, centered above and behind your vehicle. The [+] and [-] buttons at bottom center control the current zoom level. The two buttons along the side control Bluetooth device pairing, sound volume and screen brightness, while the triangular button to the left accesses traffic updates, which are delivered to the device in near-real-time as part of the GPS ephemera.
The Time display in the lower left corner, which changes to ETA when a route is programmed, is itself a button that pops up a sidebar displaying info like distance remaining, compass heading, current speed, travel time remaining and your elevation above sea level.
The OneTouch button at top right brings you to a quick menu where you can choose from a list of saved locations or searches. It doesn’t quite live up to its name, requiring three or four taps to actually start navigating, but it’s certainly faster than the manual address entry. Aside from saved locations, you can assign saved searches like “nearest gas” or “nearest hotel” or “closest ATM”, which can be handy on longer trips.
When a route has been programmed, an icon appears in the upper left that changes to reflect the next turn or lane-change you should make. This icon can be tapped to bring up a list of the remaining maneuvers needed to complete the route. From here, you can tap the Avoid icon on the right next to any given maneuver, which will cause the unit to try to recalculate the route to avoid that street or turn.
The Menu button at bottom right brings up the GPS unit’s main menu, which is used to access the unit’s trip planning and route finding functions. In addition to the usual “go to this address” mode we’re all familiar with, the GPS unit can plot a route based on a pre-planned sequence of destinations, can direct you to nearby points of interest, and can navigate by intersection as well–“corner of 5th and Main” rather than “123 Main Street”, for example. It will also keep track of places you’ve asked it to navigate to previously, and the Previous option will bring up that list for re-use. Across the bottom from left to right, the buttons will take you back, go to your address book, go to the vehicle info screen, and open the settings window, respectively.
Most of the entries are the sort of thing you’d expect: map display, sound, navigation options, screen brightness, &c. A few point at further functionality though. The Bluetooth settings menu lets you manage which phones the device will pair to, at which point it can act like a speakerphone for placing and receiving calls.
There are also several functions designed to help you avoid unnecessary trouble with traffic cops while on the road. The Speed Warning is pretty much exactly what it says on the tin, providing audible and visible warnings when you get too far above the posted speed limit. The Phantom Alerts function can warn you about law enforcement hazards, including red light cameras, speed cameras, and other such enforcement tools, though most are only enabled with a subscription service. Of course, none of this should be taken as encouragement to break traffic laws or speed, but sometimes a little advance warning can mean the difference between a smooth trip and an unwanted traffic ticket. Sadly, most of these features are locked behind a premium subscription service, which we did not have access to for this review.
If you’re suspicious of the direction info the unit is giving you, you can tap the satellite status icon in the upper right corner of the main menu to get real-time info on the number of GPS satellites the unit has fixed on, as well as signal strength from each. If you don’t see at least four such satellites, you’re in an area where the GPS unit won’t work reliably.