Magellan Roadmate 1220 – Review

My first GPS was a Garmin Nüvi 200. I got it free for applying for a Discover Card. The card is long gone, but I still have the GPS. A fairly basic model, it was nevertheless quite a neat gadget — particularly once I had “hacked” it to speak to me in my own voice. However, at more than three years of age it is getting a little long in the tooth; It takes ages to find a satellite — once failing to do so completely on a fifty-mile stretch of freeway. And Garmin’s wanting $80+ for new maps is nothing less than a joke.

I spotted this online at a good price and purchased two (one for each car). In the box was a car charger, a suction-cup mount, a “sticky disk” (sorry, I don’t know what those things are called) a manual and of course the GPS — a slim, sexy little black number. The testing was done on a run to New York and back; not once did it let us down.

What I liked

  • Power-on time and signal acquisition are far superior to the Garmin unit.
  • Light, pocket-sized small form factor.
  • Ten-second switch-off delay with “cancel” option.
  • Intelligent keyboard with voice annunciation of typing.
  • “Heads-up” chime.

What I disliked

  • Sometimes the screen failed to detect a press, particularly in the corners.
  • Latest maps available are not up to date, and did not include a nearby freeway ramp that went on-stream in late April.

What I hated

  • Sometimes when typing on the keyboard, the voice would announce a letter being pressed, but it would not show up on the screen. This is extremely confusing.
  • Their Customer Service stinks.

I e-mailed Magellan’s Customer Service about the maps issue. What followed was more than two weeks of e-mail back-and-forth. They didn’t answer my questions — and when they did, they gave evasive and ambiguous answers, answered questions I didn’t ask, asked for information I had already given them… and don’t really help at all.

At one point they admitted that “…the 2010 Spring Map Update is current as of the 3rd Quarter of 2009…”, a naming convention that I thought highly disingenuous at best and outright dishonest at worst, but they somehow managed to say it with a completely straight face.

Verdict: The Good: we now have a GPS for each vehicle. The Bad: The maps are a year out of date. The Ugly: Customer Service = the art of telling the customer “NO”.

I am satisfied with the items — I don’t feel that I got a bad deal — but Magellan’s alleged Customer Service has put me off the company. I define “Customer Service” as “helping the customer when you don’t have to“. LIke too many companies, their definition appears to be “telling the Customer ‘No‘” Their unwillingness to meet me half way with a problem that I took the time to inform them about is very disappointing indeed.

I will be avoiding Magellan products in the future

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