Magellan’s Maestro line of GPS devices has always been designed to appeal to consumers who are willing to pay more for more features. And that’s still true of the new Maestro 4700. However, Magellan has also added more features to the models in its budget-friendly RoadMate line—so much so that you have to wonder whether the Maestro 4700 is worth even its slight price premium.
The Maestro 4700 has an impressive list of features. You get a larger-than-normal, 4.7-inch screen; maps for the United States (all 50 states), Canada, and Puerto Rico; a database of 6 million points of interest; highway-lane-assist signs; text-to-speech; and multisegment routing capabilities. You also get several items unique to Magellan, such as the AAA tour book and the One Touch feature, the latter of which lets you easily navigate to a favorite destination or search with just a single tap of the screen.
But here’s the thing: All of those features are also available on the $250 RoadMate 1470 (not to mention the $300, 7-inch RoadMate 1700 [ ]).
What does the $50 premium buy you? First, you’ll find a Bluetooth phone interface on the 4700, which the RoadMate 1470, like most budget models, lacks. The interface connected easily to my LG VX9900 phone, and the sound on both incoming and outgoing calls was very good. You have the option of calling your home number, redialing the previous number, using the dial pad, calling an entry from your address book or call log, or using one of nine speed-dialing entries that you define. You can also dial a point of interest directly. Unfortunately, the Bluetooth interface doesn’t read the address entries or call history from your cell phone (at least, not mine). I was, however, pleased that the 4700 reconnected automatically to my phone when I returned to my car.
The 4700 also features predictive traffic routing, a function very similar to TomTom’s IQ Routes that generates routes based on historical speed and traffic patterns. The intended result is more-optimal routing and more-accurate ETAs. In my tests, predictive routing accurately anticipated rush-hour delays. Even so, sometimes your best option for getting somewhere is to tough it out and tolerate traffic delays anyway, and there’s nothing Magellan’s products can do about that. I do hope that Magellan will include this feature in upcoming RoadMate models.
Voice recognition is in the 4700, but I thought it was somewhat underwhelming, as the feature allows you to control only a few things by voice. A tap of the speaking-man icon on the map view brings up the “Say a command” menu, which contains entries for “go home”, “previous destinations”, “nearest bank”, “nearest gas”, “nearest coffee”, “nearest restaurant”, and “where am I”. Though it responds to some additional commands such as “go back”, “next”, and “map”, the device itself offers no listing of the available commands. Voice control of a portable GPS unit may be a viable interface option someday, but not today.
Smart Sound, a simple but significant feature that links the device’s volume to the speed of the vehicle, further differentiates the Maestro 4700 from the RoadMate products. In addition, the sound options let you set separate levels for navigation and the phone interface. Other extras in the Maestro 4700 include a pedestrian mode, 3D landmarks, and a feature that helps you locate your parked car. I was disappointed, however, to see that the 4700 lacks the Local Info feature (for events, attractions, destinations, restaurants, and gas in either your current location or a city of your choice) available on the RoadMate 1470.
Navigation with the Maestro 4700 is almost identical to the experience you’d have with current RoadMate models. The menu structures are virtually the same, with the exception of the additional features found on the Maestro. In my road testing, I mounted both the 4700 and the 1470 and drove some test routes. In many cases the spoken directions were in unison, but on occasion one unit was about a half second ahead of the other.
At the $300 price point, Magellan gives consumers three choices: the 7-inch RoadMate 1700, the Maestro 4700, and the RoadMate 1475T (which is identical to the 1470 but includes a built-in traffic receiver with lifetime traffic). Though the Maestro 4700 does have a number of additional features as compared with the RoadMate models, for me the RoadMate 1475T has the optimal blend of features for the $300 price. And for $50 less, the 1470 is a good value if you can live without the traffic information.