It’s been a little while since we’ve seen anything from Magellan, but in late October, the company revealed its latest in-car GPS, the Magellan Maestro 4370. A step-up model from the Magellan Maestro 4250, the portable navigation device (PND) offers a new user interface with a feature called OneTouch that gives you quick one-click access to your preferred destinations. It’s real time-saver for navigating to frequently visited locations or finding favorite businesses in new territory since you don’t have to go through various menus. The Maestro 4370 also delivers with accurate directions and advanced navigation features, such as text-to-speech functionality, integrated Bluetooth, and lane guidance. While there are a couple of performance issues, the Maestro 4370 provided accurate directions and is a good PND for those looking for a higher-end system. The Magellan Maestro 4370 is available now for $399.99.
With a sleek lacquered black chassis and vibrant display, the Magellan Maestro 4370 is certainly an eye-catching device. The clean, streamlined design will make a nice addition to any car interior. It’s also fairly compact at 4.6 inches wide by 3.2 inches high by 0.7 inch deep and weighs 7.3 ounces, and unlike many GPS devices, it comes with a protective case so you can pack for a trip without fear of scratching the screen or outer shell and then use it in a rental car.
The real attraction of the Maestro 4370 is the 4.3-inch touch screen. With a 480-by-800-pixel resolution, maps, text, and images look amazingly sharp and smooth. You can adjust the backlighting, but you don’t get the option to choose from various map colors, aside from the standard, day, night, or automatic modes. The onscreen keyboard is fairly spacious and in QWERTY format, so we found entering addresses pretty easy. However, we found that the system is a bit sluggish so sometimes we had to retap icons and back out of menus, or the map screen often brought up a rotating clock or “Please wait” message.
The user interface has been slightly revamped since the Maestro 4200 series. Of course, the main difference is the new OneTouch menu. Basically, the feature lets you preselect your favorite businesses (restaurants, banks, gas stations, and so forth) and addresses and presents them on a single page where you can just tap on the appropriate icon to navigate to the destination from your current location. There’s no need to go through several menus or manually enter addresses since they’re all in one place. Unfortunately, unlike we originally thought, you can’t assign OneTouch functions to multimedia or Bluetooth, though Magellan plans to add this capability to future OneTouch devices.
The OneTouch screen can be accessed by touching the tab in the upper right-hand corner of the screen; you can also hide it by tapping the tab again. The process of assigning OneTouch keys is easy if you’re simply entering an address, but if you want to add a certain point of interest (POI) or save searches, it gets a bit more involved. For example, you have to go to the POI database, select a category or subcategory/specific business, save, and then select a OneTouch button. It’s not particularly complicated but we recommend checking out the user’s guide to get the hang of the process. Overall, we found the feature to be useful. Having all our favorite locations in an easily accessible pull-down menu was convenient and a quite a time-saver.
On the right side, you will find an FM antenna input, a mini USB port, and a SD/MMC card expansion slot for side loading multimedia. There’s a power button on top, while the speaker is located on the back.
The Magellan Maestro 4370 comes packaged with a car charger, an AC adapter, a USB cable, a protective pouch, a vehicle mount (windshield and dash), and reference material. The car mount requires a bit of assembly, but it’s really easy. More importantly, it did a good job of securely holding the unit in place during our test drives.
In addition to the new OneTouch interface, the Magellan Maestro 4370 offers plenty of other navigation features. The GPS comes preloaded with maps of the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico and 6 million points of interest. The trip planning process is like most other PNDs; you can enter a specific address, choose a previously entered destination, select a location from your address book or a POI, and more. Of course, you can also choose any favorite that you’ve saved on the OneTouch menu.
You can customize the way the system creates routes. From the Settings menu, you have the option to choose which road types you want to use on your journey (highways, toll roads, carpool, etc.) and whether you want calculations by fastest time, shortest distance, simplest route, or the most economical. Traffic can also be factored into route creation, since the included car charger has an integrated RDS/TMC receiver. The real-time traffic updates are supplied by Navteq Traffic and displays the color-coded road conditions on the map and lists any traffic incidents along your route. If you’re already on the road and encounter traffic, the Maestro 4370 can provide an alternate route if you so choose via the SmartDetour Feature. With the purchase of the GPS, you get a three-month complimentary subscription to the traffic service; afterwards, you’ll have to pay $39.99 per year. The Maestro 4370 offers routing options for the car, taxi, bus, emergency vehicle, bicycle, and for the first time, pedestrian mode.
Other navigation functions include automatic route recalculation, a detour function, and multidestination trips. The POI database contains all the major categories (accommodation, airport, gas stations, and restaurants) and more specialized interests, such as wineries and race tracks. You can search for restaurants by cuisine type, but in addition, Magellan includes separate listings for popular chain establishments like Dunkin’ Donuts, Outback Steakhouse, and Jamba Juice.
While the Navigon 7200T offers Zagat ratings and reviews, the Maestro 4370 has AAA. In addition to the branded POI, the Maestro 4370 carries on the tradition of the Maestro 4250 and continues to offer TourBook listings for AAA Diamond-rated lodging and restaurants, complete with information such as hotel amenities, restaurant description, and hours of operation, admission prices for certain attractions, and so forth. AAA members get a bit more benefit out of this feature since you can view listings for establishments that offer discounts to AAA members, and AAA-approved auto repair facilities. In addition, in case of an emergency, the unit will display the AAA member toll-free help number and your exact location, so you can give the operator all your information.
You can view maps in 2D or 3D mode, and you now get 3D building renderings, much like those on the HP iPaq 310 Travel Companion. You won’t get 3D models for all buildings, but the feature is still helpful in getting your bearings in unfamiliar areas since it gives you a visual reference point. You can also turn this capability off if you don’t want it. While you’re driving, the map screen will show the current street, distance to, and street name of your next turn, estimated time of arrival, and more. In addition, the Maestro 4370 offers land guidance for highway driving, so the system will zoom in and overlay directional arrows on the street to show you which lane you should be in for your upcoming exit.
The system provides guidance by way of text- and voice-guided turn-by-turn directions, plus text-to-speech functionality, which Magellan calls SayWhere, so the system will speak actual street names. There is a simulator mode, so you can get a running demo of your route before actually heading out the road. The Maestro 4370 offers automatic route recalculation, so it can get you back on track if you happen to get off course.
The Maestro 4370 has integrated Bluetooth, so you can pair your Bluetooth-enabled cell phone or smartphone and use the GPS as a hands-free speaker system. For a list of compatible handsets, you can check Magellan’s Web site. With it, you can place and accept calls, view your call history, search the device’s address book, redial, and even receive and send text messages. You can also directly dial any number associated with a POI. Unfortunately, your phone’s address book and call history list do not automatically synchronize with the PND.
Last but not least, the Magellan Maestro 4370 features a multimedia player and image viewer. The media player supports AAC, MP3, WMA, MPEG2, and MPEG4 music and video formats, and supports playlist creation, shuffle, and repeat mode. The system also has a built-in FM modulator so you can pipe the PND’s voice guided instructions and other sounds through your car radio.
As we noted in the Design section, general performance on the Magellan Maestro 4370 could be a little sluggish. The delays occurred mostly when we were navigating through the menus or entering trip information, and fortunately didn’t affect performance while providing real-time route guidance.
For our road tests, we took the GPS out on the streets of San Francisco, and from a cold start, it took about 5 minutes for the unit get a fix on our position, while subsequent starts were nearly instantaneous. The system did a good job of accurately tracking our movement as we drove throughout the city, and maintained its lock on satellites as we drove through the Financial District where tall buildings often prevent a clear view of the sky.
We planned two trips with the Maestro 4370. The first was from the Marina District to San Francisco International Airport and the second was from the Marina District to CNET’s downtown headquarters. The PND was quick to create routes in both instances, and checking out the turn-by-turn maneuver list, we found that it provided accurate routes. If you have the Smart Zoom feature turned on in the Map Screen Settings, the GPS will automatically zoom in and out of maps depending on where you are at on your trip. For example, if the course requires that you travel on one road or interstate for a long period of time, it will provide more of an overview map but as you get closer to a turn or maneuver, the Maestro 4370 will zoom in on the specified section of the map.
The pronunciation of text-to-speech instructions was pretty good, though it had problems with longer street names. Also, we noticed that the voice prompts occasionally hiccupped mid-sentence. We also missed several turns along the way to test the route recalculation rate. While the audible notifications came a bit late, the Maestro 4370 was still able to get us back on track in a timely manner and with efficient routing.
We also paired the Maestro 4370 with the RIM BlackBerry Curve 8310, and had no problems making or receiving calls. We also tried sending a text message from the GPS, but after we hit send, it got stuck on a “Sending SMS” message and after waiting for about 15 minutes, we gave up. And though we don’t necessarily find multimedia capabilities on a GPS useful, music playback on the Maestro 4370 was quite good with full sound and a nice balance between treble and bass. Viewing pictures was also pleasant, thanks to the sharp screen. The unit has a rated battery life of 3 hours.