Author: Ken Payne
This is part two in a series of articles reviewing the use and
installation of a Magellan Ford F150 navigation system. Part one,
the installation procedure, can be found by clicking here.
One of the features I like about the unit is that it looks like it
belongs on the truck, the texture and fitting look OEM, and the
curvature of the housing matches the driver’s dash area.
Notice the satellite icon on the right of the Magellan’s
screen? When you power on the unit for the first time it will take
a few minutes to sync up with the GPS satellites and find your
location. If you leave the unit off for several days it may
occasionally go through this syncing process. The accuracy is very
good and it nails my home’s mailbox within about 15 feet and
the shop (pictured above) by about 20 feet.
The setup procedure involves entering your home address (it will
store up to 3 addresses for different drivers or locations) and then
you’re all set to go. The unit is pre-programmed with maps of
the USA and Canada, along with 7 million points of interest.
If you don’t travel often or you don’t mind using maps
you might ask yourself “why do I need a navigation
system?” Well, whether you’re looking for a different
place to eat, trying to find an ATM, want to find a new place to
fish or the wife wants to find new places to shop (!) -- the points
of interest can really simplify day to day driving.
My first test of the unit involved using the points of interest to
find a nice place to eat dinner with the wife. The Magellan easily
solves a common dilemma for some couples: You want to go out on date
but you’re tired of the same old places so you drive with no
specific destination in mind, wasting your time, convincing yourself
you’re going to find someplace new and the next thing you know
you’re back at the same old places. I decided seafood would
be a nice change of pace…
Step 1: Push the points of interest button.
Step 2: Choose your location method. You can spell the name or
select by category. I choose by category. If you choose to spell
the name the unit has a handy feature to simply input of the name
using the touch screen. As you start entering letters the unit is
searching matching entries at the same time. With each character
you enter the selection of characters is narrowed down to only
Step 3: Select “Restaurant”.
Step 4: Here’s where it gets really handy. You can
search by distance, city, name or cuisine type. I selected
Step 5: I selected “Seafood”. (Note: The list of
cuisines is large and I’ve used it to find many interesting
places located in the county that I never knew existed.)
The unit will take about 1-3 seconds to give you a selection of
matches. You then select a restaurant and mapping options. Mapping
options include Shortest Time, Shortest Distance, Lease Use of
Freeways and Most Use of Freeways. Additionally, in on of the
configuration menus you can select whether you want the system to
avoid toll roads (not a problem where I live).
I found a seafood place about 15 miles from away and proceeded to
drive. The unit gives step-by-step visual and verbal directions.
It will announce any turns required before you arrive at
intersections. With highways it tends to give much more advance
notice (probably due to the speeds involved). A chime will ring
just as you arrive at an intersection which requires a turn. 20
minutes later the wife and I were sitting down to enjoy a nice meal
at a new place.
I put this unit through its paces and purposefully tried to mess it
up. Here’s the great thing: you can’t get lost even
if you try. Pass up an intersection you needed to turn and
shortly the unit will tell you to make a u-turn or will provide
alternate directions back to your destination. Drive 10 miles off
the route it gave you and it will continuously recalculate
directions to get you to the destination, including
“detour” style instructions if you drive more than 5
miles off the original course. No matter how many detours or
incorrect turns you make it will re-calculate the route, whether the
destination is a point of interest or an address you enter.
Overall I am impressed with the unit’s abilities. Its screen
is readable even on the brightest of days. The computer generated
voice is accurate and easy to understand. Naturally there are some
streets will to mispronounce due to local variations in
pronunciation but not enough to make a difference. Driving
directions are impeccable and I’ve even found short-cuts to
destinations I’ve driven to for years. My only complaint is
that in a fast growing metro area like Atlanta the points of
interest are out of date the day after they are published! This is
a problem with any navigation system, there’s no way (yet) to
have them 100% up-to-date because mapping data providers don’t
provide real-time data. You’ll be able to get the unit
updated periodically through your local Ford dealership if
that’s an issue for you.
If you’re looking for a great unit with OEM-style looks you
can’t go wrong with the Magellan Integrated Ford F150
(Next month we'll review the details of the advanced features.)