Magellan is best known for their RoadMate products and while they span multiple price points, they all target car owners. Checking out each device while looking at the features and price should help you decide which Magellan GPS device is really the best for you. However, the model names can be a bit confusing. The RoadMate 5430T-LM, for instance, looks like an average RoadMate device with some minor upgrades but it actually represents a fresh new start for the company as the new 5-incher is powered by Android. To make things a bit more complicated, Magellan also launched the SmartGPSseries with the Magellan SmartGPS 5390 being the very first member.
For a new product category, Magellan doesn’t do much in making the Magellan SmartGPS 5390 stand out. Until the device is turned on, you might mistake it for a RoadMate or a generic 5-inch GPS device since you won’t even find a Magellan logo on the front. Fortunately, the Magellan SmartGPS 5390 has a premium feel with a 5-inch glass touchscreen with WVGA resolution. It comes with a windshield mount, vehicle power adapter, AC adapter with micro USB cord and a special download card for the SmartGPS apps. A microSD slot is available if you need to add some memory storage.
Unlike the Magellan devices in the RoadMate series, the SmartGPS 5390 is primarily focused on making your car smarter. Most new cars come with fancy in-dash infotainment systems that may eliminate the need for a GPS device. The only problem is that these cars have premium price tags and it can be pretty expensive to add such a system to your existing aging car. The Magellan SmartGPS 5390 wants to be the affordable solution with a huge bag of tricks to boot.
Most GPS navigators have Bluetooth and the SmartGPS 5390 is no exception but it is the built-in Wi-Fi that plays the much bigger role. The idea is to have the Magellan SmartGPS 5390 connect to your local Wi-Fi network and sync so it can gather as much data from the cloud as it can for mobile use. This data is used to power the main interface which consists of various content squares that continuously update. It works a bit like the Live Tiles feature in Windows 8 and it looks great when used in the car. 8 content squares are shown by default so you can check traffic events, gas prices, Wi-Fi status, safety alerts, destination info and other goodies right away. There is an onscreen wheel that you can scroll to reveal the map while still keeping 4 content squares in view.
An active Internet connection is recommended if you want the real-time data and that’s where your smartphone tethering comes in. Mobile connectivity is another strong point thanks to the newly launched Magellan SmartGPS app for Android and iOS devices. The app is more intuitive than Magellan’s past mobile efforts and it opens up new ways to plan routes. You can launch apps like Foursquare and Yelp for finding a destination and send it straight to the SmartGPS 5390 via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The app also lets you put your contacts and other important files in the cloud so the SmartGPS can easily access them. The screen is large and clear enough to show the map view on one side and the Yelp or Foursquare reviews and offers on the other side so it makes exploring your surroundings a lot more enjoyable.
Just because the Magellan SmartGPS 5390 is made for the cloud doesn’t mean that the device is useless offline. In fact, this GPS navigator still has the heart of a RoadMate with familiar features like landmark guidance, junction view and the highly convenient OneTouch Favorites Menu. The integrated Bluetooth can still connect to your smartphone so you can make hands-free calls. Despite the lack of letters next to the model number, both lifetime map updates and lifetime traffic are provided and it comes with 7 million points of interest that remain accessible offline. If you drive near a Wi-Fi hotspot, you can take advantage of the cloud features and even launch the included Internet browser if you prefer the classic way of searching for destinations. Like other new Magellan products, you can try the new PhantomALERT service for a year. PhantomALERT notifies you of any upcoming speed cameras or red lights.
Using the Magellan SmartGPS 5390 takes some getting used and the various updating content squares might be information overload for some people. But on the innovation side of things, the Magellan SmartGPS 5390 is a refreshing step forward and it makes great use of your smartphone’s features. Plus, the SmartGPS 5390 is attractively priced at $229.99. You just have to decide if you want these cloud features or pay the same amount for one of Garmin’s new 7-inch GPS devices which are larger but not as smart.