Review – Magellan RoadMate 3065 Commuter GPS

Over the river and through the woods … hey, that cloverleaf interchange wasn’t there the last time we took the sleigh to Grandma’s house! Good thing we have our Magellan RoadMate 3065 GPS with us!

In a world full of online mapping websites and cell phone coverage to come instantly to the aid of any driver who may veer off course, there is little tolerance anymore for getting lost or arriving late, be it to a business meeting, sporting event, or family holiday dinner. So, it’s reassuring to have the savvy directions from a GPS unit at your fingertips, to get you from here to there efficiently. There are quite a few out in the marketplace right now, and the RoadMate 3065 from Magellan holds its own among the pack.

Like many of the other Magellan vehicle navigators, the RoadMate 3065 offers some great features: hands-free calling with advanced Bluetooth technology, One Touch bookmarking features that let you make note of your favorite destinations and searches, and the built-in AAA TourBook guides for the US and Canada. The spoken directions, provided by a female voice with good diction, are clear and easy to understand, although users do not have the option of choosing from a selection of male or female voices as they do with other GPS units. A very handy feature is route customization, which lets you opt for the route with the shortest distance, fastest time, most use of freeways or least use of freeways. And the ever-enjoyable Pedestrian mode, which reveals that walking is often faster than taking the N.J. Turnpike on a Sunday afternoon, or anytime on the 405 freeway near LAX!

The high-res touch screen is simple to use, and the graphics are easy to read. The 4.7-inch screen is just the right size - not so small that you can’t see details, but not so large that it creates a blind spot. Drivers cruising in heavier traffic will be happy to find that the Traffic Wakeup feature provides real-time traffic information, and can give you the vital road volume information before you start out on a trip.

The unit can be mounted in a car window with the typical suction-mounting device, but we found one accessory to be very useful – the optional Magellan Beanbag Mount. The beanbag holds the RoadMate in a location that is easy for the driver to see, and within an easier reach in a car with a long sloping front windshield, such as a minivan.

All GPS units seem to have their own minor idiosyncrasies, and the RoadMate 3065 is no exception. On a recent trip through California’s Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, the RoadMate kept politely repeating instructions to “make a legal U-turn when possible” for more than 50 miles, even though we specifically chose a route that began in the foothills of Porterville and entered the park through the southern entrance. Once we arrived at Grant Grove it regained its senses and it seemed much happier. At least we thought her voice sounded less frustrated with us. To be fair we took a much less common route, so it probably wasn’t an entirely fair test! However, a day or so later, upon entering the high-use main road into Yosemite Valley, we were once again admonished to turn around (we didn’t listen to her that time, either!)

We tried all the various features including the AAA TourBook guides. This proved surprisingly helpful when trying to find an open place to eat in the middle of nowhere. With the help of built-in Bluetooth connectivity, we could make a selection, dial the number, and figure out if it was the place we needed. It often surprised us with different options and categories then we expected. Most valuable was the lifetime subscription to Travel Alerts. In areas like Southern California, a warning about delays can allow you to take an alternate route that could literally save you hours from being stuck in traffic.

Having a GPS without travel alerts doesn’t help you actually get to your destination faster, but with them, you have some choices, and even if stuck in traffic you can let folks know your estimated arrival time. Using Magellan’s Content Manager software, we were easily able to download new software to the unit. For the Mac user the lack of a Mac OS X version of the software is frustrating. Luckily we have a Windows system to work with, but I’d like to see Magellan release a Mac version.

All in all we found the Magellan RoadMate 3065 Commuter a solid, easy to use, and flexible GPS, and if you don’t have Rudolph to light the way, it will help you arrive on time and to the right address. Of course, as with any portable GPS, be sure to use common sense and follow your state and local laws when choosing the best location in your auto in which to place the unit.

Nancy Burlan, Posted 11/27/2010

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