A quick trip from Tuscaloosa, Ala., to Asheville, N.C., last week gave me the opportunity to try out the Magellan Roadmate Commercial RC9270T-LM GPS unit for the first time. First off, I admit I am not the tech-savvy type. In the many years I owned a VCR, I never learned how to program the thing. In short, I’m drawn to devices I consider idiot-proof.
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Being a typical man (I apologize for slandering the entire gender), I pulled the unit out of the box, quickly assembled it and plugged it into my vehicle (for the record: an SUV, not a big truck) – without reading a single instruction. The 7-inch screen instantly came to life. The interface was user-friendly with oversized graphics, including the menu tab where I found the address function. I punched in the letters A.S.H.E., and it did the rest. A few quick strokes for the street name and number and I was off.
I allowed the preset configuration to choose the route. I had planned to go up Interstate 59 to Chattanooga, Tenn., which allowed me to make a stop in Fort Payne, Ala. The unit was set to shortest route. It routed me out of Birmingham onto I-20 to Atlanta and then up I-85… a difference of just a few miles.
Instead of editing the route, I decided to continue on to test automated re-routing. It took it several miles before it finally re-routed me the way I was determined to go. The fault of the stubborn driver, not the unit itself. At my stop in Fort Payne, I finally read the instructions and discovered how wonderfully customizable the unit is.
I set the speed limit warning for commercial trucks. For the most part it was right on the money. The upcoming turn notifications were great – with a constant display at the top that indicates the number of miles and direction of the next turn, it has voice warnings two miles from the turn and increases as you approach the turn. I especially liked the duality of the colorful graphics that showed interstate signs indicating that proper lane to be in.
Other big pluses of the touch screen were the Estimated Time of Arrival tab, which included miles to destination, real-time traffic reports and points of interest including truck stops and specific amenities you may need. The OneTouch favorites menu is vast and easily customized. I also liked the fact it was easy to adjust the volume with a light/volume display on the front screen.
While I didn’t use the logging feature on the trip, I did play around with it during a stop and it seemed to be very functional – easy to set up and access previous trips. I also didn’t use the Bluetooth option, but that goes back to my own keep-it-simple mentality (I’m just one step up from a basic flip-phone). I did familiarize myself with the voice command functions, and I’m sure if I spent a lot of time with the unit, I would eventually use the Bluetooth for both ease of use and enhanced safety.
The only hiccup with system was on arrival at my first destination in Asheville. It told me I had arrived, but I found myself on a block of upscale boutiques. I went in one of the dress shops and inquired about the Grand Bohemian Hotel. It was one block up the street. I found out by talking to the desk clerk at the hotel that it wasn’t the fault of GPS unit. That particular address has been a constant problem for all GPS units and only very recently had the hotel straightened out the problem with Google maps. It’s always a good idea to consult more than one source on routing, even with the best GPS systems, to avoid the rare problematic address.
The next morning I set off with quick directions to the ArvinMeritor plant from a hotel staff member without plugging it into the GPS. Five miles down the road, I pulled over thinking I was lost. Without an address for the plant (my bad again), I punched ArvinMeritor and the unit quickly pulled up the addresses and calculated the route from where I was. This is another big plus – the routing calculations are much faster than units I have used in the past.
By the time I started home, I was very familiar with the basics of the unit and enjoyed an effortless trip back to Tuscaloosa. Overall, I was more than satisfied with this GPS. It was fairly idiot-proof, which is exactly what I need with any device that has more than an on-off switch. For the commercial driver who needs multifunctional tools designed for truckers, it should strongly be considered when shopping for your next unit.