Consumer demand for in-vehicle GPS navigation systems continues to grow at a healthy pace. Industry experts estimated that in the year 2005 over 10 million in-vehicle navigation systems were sold and predict that by 2011 sales will exceed 48 million units per year. Future improvements to navigation accuracy and greater satellite availability, achieved through the addition of a second civilian GPS downlink signal on L2 and the launch and commissioning of the European Galileo satellite constellation, along with increased consumer awareness will help fuel future sales.
To meet this growing consumer demand, Magellan introduced several new members to the RoadMate™ family in the fourth quarter of 2006. One of these additions was the RoadMate™ 2200T, a mid-entry level in-car navigation unit. The goal of this review is to provide you with a general idea of the features, performance, and ease of use of the 2200T. Readers are encouraged to visit the Magellan website and view the 2200T Reference Manual to supplement the information contained in this review.
Important note: Many of the pictures contained in this review are digital photographs of the 2200T screen. They are not as crisp or clear as the display is when viewed in person. You may also notice a weave or hash pattern in some of the pictures. This is an artifact of the photographic process.
The RoadMate™ 2200T is a self-contained vehicle navigation system weighing in at 7.8 ounces and measuring 4.3" x 3.5" x 1.1" in size. Maps for the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico along with a POI database of over 1.5 million locations are factory installed. This stylish, high impact plastic cased unit features a 3.5" (2.1" by 2.8") color touch screen display for feature selection and information display; a built-in multi-directional GPS antenna; and a built-in speaker for turn-by-turn voice directions. The GPS navigation engine is based on the award winning SiRF Star III Generation 2 chipset; enabled for 20 parallel channel GPS and WAAS reception. Windows CE Core 5.0 serves as the units embedded operation system. Power for the unit is provided through an internal 1900 mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery, a 12VDC power adapter, or an AC power adapter.
The 2200T may also be used as a digital music player and photo viewer; accessing this media from a user supplied, industry standard secure digital (SD) memory card .
Environmentally, the unit has a waterproof design specified to meet IPX4 industry standards (protection against splashing/spraying water at a rate of 2.6 gallons per minute at a pressure of 11.6 to 14.5 pounds per square inch) and is specified to operate over a temperature range of 14° F to 140° F.
Magellan has planned two future upgrades to this unit which were not available at the time of this review: CrossoverGPS™ - topographical maps for off-road navigation; and TrafficKit™ - live traffic incident reports via a subscription service. Be sure to check the Magellan website for price and availability details.
Check Latest Prices HERE
• Acquisition Time - Hot:
|• Acquisition Time - Cold:||40 seconds|
|• Acquisition Time - Initial:||5 minutes|
|• Accuracy - GPS + WAAS/EGNOS:||10 to 16 feet|
|• Accuracy - GPS Only:||< 22 feet|
|• Battery Life:||8 hours continuous use|
All of these features, with the exception of the power switch, are located under protective rubber covers on the sides of the unit.
The Magellan RoadMate™ 2200T comes in a well organized box which includes a DC power adapter, a USB cable, mounting bracket and optional dashboard mount 'plastic disc', CD-ROMs containing the 'PC Toolkit' software and the 'Reference Manual', 'Getting Started' guide (English and Spanish), 'Quick Reference' guide (English and Spanish), accessories leaflet, 'Extended Warranty Program' application, and warranty information.
My unit did not include the 'Reference Manual' CD-ROM which apparently was not ready when this unit was shipped. However, a leaflet providing instructions for downloading the manual from the Magellan website was included.
The unit reviewed was configured as follows:
The Magellan RoadMate™ 2200T comes ready to operate right out of the box; the maps and POI database for the United States, Puerto Rico and Canada are preinstalled at the factory. The only things required prior to using the unit are to set the reset button (under the protective rubber cover) to on and charge the battery. The battery was fully charge on the unit I received and I could immediately power the unit on.
After the unit is turned on for the first time, the user has to configure three settings: language (English, French, German, Italian, or Spanish); time zone; and unit of measure (miles/feet or kilometer/meters). If at a later date different settings are desired, they may be selected from the system settings screen. After these selections are made a screen displays a 'legal warning' message which has to be acknowledged. The 'legal warning' message is displayed, and has to be acknowledged, each time the unit is turned on.
After going through the steps outlined above, I verified the basic operation of the unit. It rapidly locked on ten satellites while I was sitting inside my home and correctly showed my location. Satellite acquisition and tracking was well under the 5 minute figure specified by Magellan for an initial acquisition. Kudos to Magellan's hardware engineers for a great job with the RF side. Next stop was my PC.
I installed Magellan's 'PC Tools' software package. This package is comprised of two programs: Magellan's RoadMate™ Tools and Magellan's POI file editor. USB drivers, if required, are also installed at this time. The software installation process was smooth and error free. The screen at the right is displayed on the 2200Twhen it is connected through the USB port to a computer.
There is an error in the directions listed on this screen. An AC adapter is NOT provided with the unit, but an optional accessory you can purchase from Magellan.
My final task was to download the 'Reference Manual' from Magellan's website and to check for any updates to the 2200T's firmware. No updates were available at the time this review was written.
This software package is used to load picture, music, and custom POI files to the 2200T. A SD memory card must be installed in the 2200T before you can load picture or music files to it. Custom POI files may also be stored on the SD memory card or into the 2200T's internal memory. Magellan does not specify how many POIs can be stored to the 2200T's internal memory. The number of picture, music and custom POI files you can store on the SD memory card is limited only by the size of the card.
The RoadMate™ PC Tools software is menu-driven, making it very easy to use. My only disappointment with this package was with the POI file editor. Latitude and longitude data is only accepted in decimal degree format and altitude in meters. It would have been a trivial task to allow user input in degree minuteseconds format and altitude in feet. Call me lazy, but I just hate having to make these conversion and I sometimes make errors in my conversions! Isn't that what computers are for...to make the job easy and error free? I hope Magellan considers adding this capability in the future.
An interesting feature of this software is that it checks the 2200T's battery level before allowing you to attempt uploads to the unit to ensure it has a sufficient charge on it. If not, it won't load your files. Ask me how I know this <smile>! The reminder screen shown on the right also serves as a gentle hint to make sure the battery is charged.
The only in-vehicle installation work to do is to decide where to locate the unit and mounting bracket. I studied this carefully, wanting to achieve these objectives: easy access to and viewing of the RoadMate™ 2200T; connecting the DC adapter to a vehicle power outlet is possible; and minimal blockage of the view outside of the vehicle.
If you live in California or Minnesota it is against the law to mount the unit on your windshield (as laws are constantly changing, check with your local authorities for any rules prohibiting windshield mounting in your area). Magellan provides an ‘adhesive mounting disc’ to mount on your dashboard and you attach the main suction cup mounting bracket to this ‘disc’. Since the ‘disc’ has an adhesive on the bottom of it, it makes dashboard mounting somewhat of a permanent installation. Take extra time if you use this auxiliary mounting hardware to get it right the first time!
My daughter, home from college on winter break, held the unit where I intend on mounting it so I could confirm that the mounting objectives outlined above were met (as much as possible) and that GPS signal reception was adequate. Then I mounted the unit to the right of the mirror just as high as I could get it to keep my field of view as large as possible. From an accessibility perspective the left side of the mirror would have been better, but it blocked too much of the outside view.
I guess I’m one of those individuals who likes the least number of obstructions and distractions in my field of view as I drive and it wasn't long before the power cord swinging back and forth started driving me nuts. Mounting the unit on the dash would have solved the cord problem, but that approach blocked too much of my outside view in this vehicle. I’ll probably end up fabricating some type of mounting attachment so I can mount it where the top of the unit is flush with the top of the dash; much like you see in vehicles which are equipped with a built-in system.
Magellan has made the job of attaching the 2200T to my future homebrew mounting bracket easy for me by providing a mounting cradle (which normally slides on to the adjustable suction cup windshield mounting bracket) with threaded inserts. Nice touch Magellan! And one more kudos to Magellan for providing one of those moistened towelettes for cleaning the windshield/dash prior to mounting the unit--something many of us forget to do.
I like to 'kick the tires and light the fire' on any new piece of electronics I get before reading the user manual. Most of us are anxious to see what our new 'priceless treasure' can do and I bet 99 out of 100 of you do the same thing. But for once fate intervened and I picked up the getting started booklet and read a little. Boy, am I glad I did; otherwise I would have been pulling my hair out trying to figure out why the unit wouldn't power on. As mentioned earlier, Magellan ships the unit with the reset switch in the off position to conserve the factory charge on the battery. And the need to move this switch to the on position before the unit will power on is clearly spelled out in both the getting started guide and user manual. However, Magellan might consider adding this notice to a small brightly colored removable sticker on the protective rubber cover over the reset switch for those of us who 'can't wait' as it might avoid a lot of technical support calls.
Once you've made it through the setup procedures outlined above, you are greeted with the main menu on the touch screen display as shown below to the left.
Main Menu Page 1
Main Menu Page 2
The arrowhead icon in the lower right hand corner of the display indicates this is a multi-page menu. Touching it brings up the second page. In the upper right hand corner is a display showing the 'relative' GPS reception quality. The more green bars, the more satellites locked and tracking. Touching this and the display to the left comes up showing which satellites are being tracked/used in the navigation solution, the 'relative' signal strength of each satellite, their position in the sky, and the type of navigation solution. No colored bar to the right of the PRN number indicates the satellite is not being tracked; yellow indicates a track, but that the satellite is not being used as part of the navigation solution; and green indicates that the satellite is being used in determining a position fix. It's hard to see in this picture, but if you look closely you will see an 'X' in a box in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Touching this returns you to the previous screen.
Notice the 'door with an arrow' icon in the right center of the main menu. Touching this icon displays the application menu screen shown to the right. The 'NAV' icon returns you to the main menu screen; the 'Music' icon to the music play application screen; the 'Viewer' icon to the photograph viewing application; and the 'System' icon to the system settings screen. At the very bottom of the screen is a battery icon which provides a relative indication of the remaining battery life. In this photo, three-fifths of the battery charge remains. An external power source connected icon would be displayed to the left of the battery icon had the unit been attached to an external power source.
There are six different ways to create a route which the 2200T will navigate to. They are:
Magellan's QuickSpell™ feature makes data entry a breeze. In a nutshell, what QuickSpell™ does is to remove letters of the alphabet and numbers, when using the numeric keypad, from consideration as you type and after you've typed a few letters, it offers you a list of choices to select from. The screen shots below illustrate this process. In this example I was entering a destination by street address.
|I've chosen to enter a location from the street address function starting with city name.||I've entered the first three letters of Enon. Notice how the keyboard only gives me a choice of five letters to complete the name.|
|Enon, OH is what I want, so I tap on it.||I've entered the first two letters of Coronado Trail. Notice how QuickSpell™ is helping me out giving me a choice of only three letters for the next letter in the street name.|
|After entering an 'N' Coronado Trail comes up as the only choice meeting my entry criteria and I tap on it.||A numeric keypad replaces the alphabetical keypad and I'm presented with a range of valid numerical addresses on this street.|
I populated my address book with both favorites and address lists using all five of the available methods for data entry. QuickSpell™ and the audible feedback/confirmation you get anytime you touch the screen made this an easy task. The touch screen was very responsive and the street level data base seems very accurate--I found every location I was looking for.
A word of caution here. The 2200T has it's database broken down into five different zones: lower 48 states, Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. So if you are in Detroit, Michigan and planning to drive to a destination in Windsor, Ontario, Canada you have to change the region from lower 48 states to Canada before you'll be able to enter and find your desired destination in Windsor.
The 2200T also allows the user to build and save multi-stop routes. Destinations may be selected from your address book, POI, or new entries can be created from the menu. A nice feature when you have multiple stops to make or want to break a long trip into manageable segments.
While it was extremely easy to enter and save destination information, the geographic accuracy of destination was hit and miss. That's not good! One of the primary reasons for purchasing an in-vehicle navigation system is to get us to our destination without getting lost and thus save us time, energy and frustration. But on several occasions I found the 2200T taking me to the wrong block in the opposite direction of where I wanted to go.
The first occurrence of this problem I encountered was in a return trip to my home. The bulls eye (concentric yellow and black circles far right hand side of the display) is where the 2200T 'thinks' 410 Coronado Trail is at. But that's not where it is! The yellow arrow head with the red/green circle inside of it is where my home is physically located. Since the picture was taken inside the comfort of my home, the arrow head is off road, which one would expect, but geographically accurate. This is important to note as it tells me the navigation solution is precise and just as importantly, that the street level database of where the streets are geographically is on the mark. So why in the world is the destination shown in the next block?
It's not uncommon to run into issues like this in new housing development or when street numbering schemes have been changed. But that's not the case here, as this area was developed over 45 years ago and the address numbers haven't changed since that time. And I've never encountered this kind of error in any other GPS unit I've used.
Scratching my head, I decided to go to two different geocoding websites to see what they had to say. Geocoding, for those not familiar with the term, is the process of converting a street address to geographic coordinates of latitude and longitude. I entered my address information into these two sites and both 'spit back' coordinates which were within five inches of each other and within 20 feet of my self-established benchmark. In other words, the information from both these sites was dead-on accurate. OK, I made note of this thinking perhaps it was an anomaly worth mentioning, but not worth getting worked up over. WRONG!
The next trip out with the 2200T took me to an unfamiliar area (different city, different county) some 25 miles away. I followed the navigation instructions the 2200T was giving me and as we approached the destination, I turned to the right just like the unit instructed me to do. My wife looked at me and said 'Why did you turn right? I went online and got directions and you should have turned left.' Again, the 2200T had the destination located in the wrong block.
I found this 'offset bias' to be the rule rather than the exception in my travels throughout the local area. It's much more annoying when it puts you in the wrong block than when you're just off 500 to a 1000 feet, but regardless, it shouldn't be happening. Since my geocoding experiences produce the correct results, it's safe to assume the correct data is out there. So either there is a problem in how the 2200T translates an address entry into geographic coordinates or there is some corruption in the database being used. Without knowing a great deal more about the internal workings of the 2200T, trying to draw any firm conclusions would only be pure speculation on my part.
The routing algorithms in the RoadMate™ 2200T determine what streets or highways are used to get from your current location to your desired destination. The user can select what type of routing will be calculated based on four different parameters. They are:
Avoidance of toll roads is a constraint which may be applied to any of the routing options.
Most of us take routing algorithms for granted since deciding how to get from point A to point B by looking at a map is second nature for us. We grab a map; find our destination; visually scan the interstates, highways, roads, and streets between 'here' and 'there'; and use our a priori knowledge that interstates are usually faster than highways, highways faster than roads, roads faster than surface streets, etc. We are also aware of facts such as where to expect or anticipate rush hour traffic issues, do we want a fast or 'scenic' route, etc. When you stop to think about this process, our brains certainly are processing a lot of data with most of it being done in our subconscious since it is so natural for us.
As is often the case in implementing artificial intelligence, what humans do naturally, without much conscious thought, is extremely difficult for a machine to do. So it should come as no surprise that one of the greatest challenges faced by in-vehicle navigation software developers is in writing good, solid, well behaved and performing routing algorithms. Routing performance, like navigation, is a make or break issue--get it right and users will love you; get it wrong and users will curse you.
The details of routing algorithms are closely held, proprietary trade secrets and rightfully so because of the large capital invested in their development. Still, we can make some wide assumptions about how they work. A weighting (performance) factor is probably applied to the types of road (interstate, highway, etc.) with these weighting factors being adjusted to meet the user's desire of fastest time vs. shortest distance, etc. I wouldn't be surprised if the algorithm does a straight line approximation of the route between 'here' and 'there' looking for the type of road most likely to satisfy the user's time/distance requirements. The algorithm probably does this in segments (like waypoints) depending on the distances involved. And finally, it presents a route for the user to follow.
The routing algorithm employed in the RoadMate™ 2200T worked very well for many of my test routes and calculated the route in a reasonable amount of time. Yet I encountered some serious quirks and glitches which lead me to question the algorithm's overall robustness.
One of my test routes involves a hypothetical trip from Ohio to Arizona. The first time I ran this test, the 2200T 'crashed and burned' while calculating the route. The unit locked up tight, the unit could not be turned off, and I had to use the reset switch to 'cold boot' the unit. After the reset, I ran the same identical route and the unit performed flawlessly. A little unsettling, but at the time a 'small' problem worth noting and maybe mentioning in the review.
A second test route involved a hypothetical trip from Ohio to Alaska; a good test since it involves crossing regional boundaries. I entered my desired destination and again it crashed during the routing calculations, but this time it gracefully recovered from the crash and reset itself without me having to reset it. I ran this route four more times and it crashed and reset each time. I was on to something--so I thought. A few days later I tried the route again and could not get the unit to crash! So much for being on to something repeatable.
Another one of my test routes, since I frequently drive it, involves a local trip to one of my favorite breakfast spots. During this test I tried the four routing options: Fastest, shortest, most use of freeways and least use of freeways. The results for fastest, most use of freeways (same solution as fastest) and shortest were as expected, but the least use of freeways gave me a most bizarre solution as I was anticipating the solution would be identical to the shortest distance solution.
The picture to the right is a simplified, not to scale sketch of the results of this test. The yellow star is my origin and the red star my destination. The fastest route was as expected--taking me up to the interstate and then over to a state highway leading me south by southwest to my destination. The shortest route too was as expected--using a series of 'country' roads and streets (it really isn't this straight, but I'm not an artist). But look at the 'least use of freeways' route! It took me far to the west and than south of my destination before converging to a solution leading me back north by northeast to my destination. This added eight miles or so to the trip distance and a good 20 minutes to the driving time. This routing tended to lean heavily towards the use of a combination of state and county highways while the shortest route uses almost exclusively 'country' roads. Totally unexpected to say the least!
I've been taught never to draw conclusions based on a single data point, but rather to collect as much data as possible. Thus, I'm going to present you with one more routing anomaly I encountered.
Recall earlier I mentioned that the RoadMate™ 2200T did not accurately position my home to the proper geographic coordinates based on my street address entry. So when driving to my home from the south it presents a slightly different route than what I would drive--taking me a block north of where I would normally turn. The crude, not to scale, sketch to the left illustrates the anomaly I'm about the explain.
Knowing better than 'the box' did on where I wanted to go, I made a right hand turn one block before what I call the original route from the 2200T wanted me to do. This 'detour' confused the 2200T and it kept instructing me to make a legal U-turn as soon as possible trying to get me to resume the original routing. Shortly before making the left turn, the 2200T figured out I wasn't going to listen to it, recalculated a route, and presented it to me roughly at the point the 'recalculated route' lines appear on my sketch. Much to my surprise, rather than having me continue straight, it 'instructed' me to follow the path shown in the sketch--clearly not the shortest or fasted route to my destination!
Reliable and efficient route calculations seem to be hit or miss with the RoadMate™ 2200T. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
Once the routing calculations have completed the screen will display the current location. The route to a destination may be viewed on one of four different screens: a 3D map; a 2D map; a next turn map; and a maneuver list screen. While driving a female voice informs the user of upcoming actions which need to be taken to follow the route. In general I found the voice instructions to come in a timely and clear manner. The text-to-phoneme algorithm did a fairly good job pronouncing some of the more odd street names in this area, but you can definitely tell the voice is computer generated. I found the voice messages to come a tad early or late at times, depending on my speed. It would have been nice had these announcements been better synchronized to speed of travel. Otherwise, I was pleased with them.
Below are pictures of the navigation screens with a few brief comments about additional information displayed in addition to the route.
|3D map screen display||2D map screen
|The next turn to be taken is shown in the lower left hand corner. Tapping on this symbol alternates between heading and direction of next turn. Next to this symbol is the name of the street/road for next turn. Tapping on this name brings up the maneuver list. The top of the screen shows the street/highway currently on. Tapping it displays current position information. (continued to the right)||The very bottom of the screen shows the distance to
the next maneuver. Tapping on this repeats the next maneuver voice
instruction. Next to this is the distance to the destination. Tap on this and it shows estimated
time to destination. Tapping on +/- changes zoom level.
Tapping on speaker symbol mutes/unmutes the speaker.
|Next turn screen display||Maneuver list display|
|A large illustration of the next maneuver to be taken along with a 2D display of your current location on the route is displayed on the screen.||Scrollable listing of maneuvers
between the current location and the destination. Tapping on the
maneuver name allows the user to exclude that section of the route and a
new route to the destination will be calculated.
What happens when you don't follow the route calculated? I intentionally deviated from the planned route while driving to see how the unit would respond. I frequently found the 2200T nagging at me to make a legal U-turn and get back on course. When it finally recognized I wasn't going to pay attention to the way it wanted me to go, it calculated a new route, but often this route was far from the optimum. The 2200T definitely seems to give 'preferred' preference to certain types of roads even when the shortest distance routing option has been selected. Yet another example of routing algorithm anomalies.
I'm a critic on the quality of the information contained in the POI databases used by all the major manufacturers. As a rule they are filled with errors and omissions. I realize it is a huge undertaking to maintain and update these databases, but as much care and attention should go into them as goes into the accuracy of the street level map database.
The quality of the RoadMate™ 2200T POI database is not any better than the industry norm--in fact it might be a little worse. Within a five mile radius of me, I found two gasoline stations (out of the three we have) missing and two locations identified as having gasoline stations--one of which never had a gasoline station and the other had closed more than eight years ago (replaced by a McDonalds which is correctly listed). The one active gasoline station listed has the wrong name associated with it--a brand name which hasn't changed since it opened some 10 years ago! On the humorous side, a local bakery was listed under the bank category as a 'banking company'. Do you suppose it's listed this way because there truly is a lot of dough there?
I found these two additions nice 'value added' features. Neither will replace dedicated devices, but they are great additions if you want to eliminate hauling additional gear with you on a trip. The only limitation is that they can't be used while you are navigating.
Sound quality from the music player was excellent while using a headphone and not all that hateful when using the built-in speaker. Photo resolution was adequate--limited only by the resolution of the touch screen display.
There are a few other features I found useful which deserve a brief mention.
The DC power adapter incorporates an LED to show you when power is available from the vehicle outlet. This might not sound like a big deal, but it is a nice little feature to show you that external power is available to the DC adapter.
The unit also stores trip statistics which can easily be called up for review. The 'trip computer' records average speed, trip time, drive time, and trip distance. The 'trip computer' may be started or stopped at any time and the data contained in it may be saved, under any name the user desires, for future recall.
Other configurable features not mentioned earlier include: selecting which POIs appear on the map display; map colors for night and day (including an automatic night mode which automatically changes to the night color scheme); detour options; route simulator; different menu color schemes; different tones for alerts; the ability to enable or disable the voice announcement of street and exit ramp names; auto power off period; screen brightness along with an option to automatically dim the screen while operating on battery power; and volume level setting.
My overall impression of the Magellan RoadMate 2200T™ is very mixed. The unit has a lot of potential and what works well works well, but it seems to have been released well before it had been given a good 'check flight' and the bugs squashed.
The sensitivity of the SiRF chipset based GPS receiver is remarkable. This is perhaps the 'hottest' commercial GPS receiver I've ever used. Even in the depths of my basement--below ground level and an environment rich with electromagnetic interference--I was able to lock onto and navigate on five GPS satellites much of the time. GPS reception should be more than adequate in all but the most severe scenarios.
The display is clear and crisp and responds fairly well to vehicle dynamics. The automatic change to a night time map display color scheme is a real eye saver.
The mapping database proved very accurate in the areas in which I used it. I was surprised to find how current it is--full and accurate data was available for several new housing developments in the area. I only found one error where the database showed the continuation of a road which no longer exists and hasn't for over 25 years. However, up until ten years ago some local maps incorrectly showed it, so I can easily understand an error like this.
Battery life was impressive. Although I did not conduct any detailed battery life measurements, I believe it will come close to, if not exceed, the specified operating time of 8 hours. Battery power always seemed to be there when I needed it.
The unit has a solid feel and appears to be well constructed. The IPX4 splash rating is a real plus offering a nice level of protection. Magellan needs to mention the IPX4 rating in the user manual, in addition to the website, and also clarify if there are limitations to when this rating applies--such as when the protective rubber covers are open for external devices such as a power adapter.
I'm looking forward to the planned topographical maps for off-road navigation and traffic advisory upgrades. Nice touch to include the ability to upgrade to these features.
An accurate internal oscillator, for timekeeping when the unit is not tracking satellites, is a real plus and helps explain the fast satellite acquisitions/re-acquisitions I observed .
I was extremely disappointed with the performance of the routing algorithms and the large position errors I encountered in the location of destinations. I don't know if these problems are unique to this area or manifest themselves in all locales, but they totally negate the reason for purchasing an in-vehicle navigation system--getting the user to the right place in the most efficient manner.
Errors and omissions in the POI database seem to be a industry-wide issue and do diminish the end user's confidence in in-vehicle navigation systems. What good is a POI feature if the user cannot rely on it? Again, this is not a Magellan unique issue, but one which seems to run industry-wide. Magellan and the entire industry need to tighten the thumbscrews on the POI database vendors and ensure quality is improved.
There are errors in the reference manual, the most glaring being the section dealing with user defined POI. The manual makes reference to an 'Enhanced POI icon', but there is no such icon in this firmware release. The correct soft key is 'My POI'. There is also a 'Premium POI' soft key which is not explained at all in the manual nor does it do anything.
Would I recommend this unit? After a lot of soul searching, I have to say no, not at this time, because of the severity of the problems I encountered with the location of destinations and the performance of the routing algorithm.
Why the soul searching? In my opinion the RoadMate™ 2200T definitely has the potential to be a stellar performer in the mid-entry level market. Everything is there, but it all needs to 'play together'. Can the problems be fixed? Barring any unforeseen hardware issues, I believe they can. Ultimately, it came down to this--will the RoadMate™ 2200T reliably and efficiently get you to your destination? Based on my experience, I don't feel it will in its current configuration.
Magellan released a firmware update (1.72.18) for the RoadMate™ 2200T in April 2007. I updated my unit to this release and ran it through the same series of tests I ran in January. My focus was primarily on those areas I noted in my original review as weaknesses/deficiencies in the unit.
The Magellan 2200T firmware release 1.72.18 is a significant firmware update...the compressed file is over 17 megabytes in size and appears to replace most, if not all of the original code in the unit. Magellan provides a helpful PDF 'readme' file which walks the user step-by-step through the update process. Carefully read these instructions as the update will erase the existing address book data...back it up as Magellan suggests or it will be lost forever.
The update processes takes a little more than 15 minutes (excluding the time it takes to download the file and hook up the hardware). Helpful screens (shown below, click on the picture for a larger image) are displayed on the PC during the update process keeping you well informed on the progress of the update. My unit rebooted five times during the update process...don't be alarmed by this.
|Update Screen 1
||Update Screen 2
|Update Screen 3
||Update Screen 4
Note: - indicates data not supplied
The table above shows the various firmware component configuration data before and after the firmware update. A helpful reader sent me configuration data on his unit after his update. I included it because it points out a couple of interesting facts, the most critical being that there are at least two different hardware versions of the 2200T on the street and that in some cases the component code, as indicated in the version number, is different between the hardware versions.
Notice the 'anomaly' in the hardware version number of my unit. It jumped from 1 to 65535; a number which makes no sense to me. My first thoughts were a bad update, so I downloaded the file again and re-flashed my unit...ending up with the same result. I could do a lot of speculation about this, but I won't. Why the hardware version number is so strange remains a mystery. I even downloaded the update file a third time, after receiving the reader's configuration data, thinking that perhaps the file had changed. A binary comparison of all three downloads showed they were identical.
I wish I could report that this firmware update resolved all the issues I mentioned in my original review. Unfortunately, the only issue resolved was the crashing of the unit while calculating routes. All the serious issues remain: destinations are still a half block off from where they should be (the most serious issue in my opinion) and the routing algorithm still produces very strange, far from optimal results. When I reran my fastest-shortest-least use of freeways test case I got a different result, but still far from what one would expect. The results are shown in the illustration below.
Least Use of Freeways Routing Issue
The least use of freeways routing option now takes me way out of the way to the northeast with the 1.72 firmware version. Still nowhere close to what it should be!
After the firmware update I had the opportunity to use the 2200T in the Phoenix, Arizona area for a week. I encountered the same issue there of destinations being a half-block off from where they are and ran into a new, annoying issue...which for lack of a better description I will call 'the endless loop.' After about 30 minutes of driving, the turn-by-turn voice instructions got stuck in a loop and every turn I took along the planned route ended with 'turn right (or left) on to the 101 Loop'. My passengers and I thought this was funny, until it went on, and on, and on ignoring the actual name of the street we were turning on to. The visual display was fine and showed the correct information but the verbal instructions were caught in this endless loop which was only cleared by cancelling the route and starting over. This happened on three different occasions while driving different routes.
Thanks to readers' comments I am now aware there are at least two hardware versions of the 2200T on the street. It is important to note that the firmware build is different for several key modules depending on the hardware version so one might expect differences in performance between the hardware versions. My findings and comments are only applicable to hardware version 1 units. Hardware version 2 and later units may perform drastically different. Please keep this in mind when making a purchase decision.
Questions? Comments? Corrections? Suggestions? Please Email Bruce