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Magellan eXplorist XL - 3.5 in. Handheld GPS Receiver
The biggest thing to hit outdoors navigation just got a whole lot bigger - thanks to the Magellan eXplorist XL. The eXplorist XL combines the ease-of-use and power of the eXplorist 500 and 600 with a 3.5 diagonal, sunlight viewable, high contrast color TFT LCD screen.
13 Reviews from Epinions.com
Jan 23, 2006
Pros: Large color screen, removable SD card storage, portability, solid construction
Cons: battery life, poor base map - plan on buying additional detail map.
The Bottom Line:
I love the large color screen. This GPS does everything I need and then some. I'm happy with my purchase.
I wanted to buy a GPS last summer after a recent vacation. My cousin had a Meridian Platinum which was very useful. I decided to go for a color model. After a lot of research - I was ready to buy the Garmin 60C or 76C. I was put off by the small screen. Once I found out that Meridian was coming out with a new large screen color model - I decided to wait.
I bought the eXplorist XL when it came out Thanksgiving weekend 2005. I ordered my online for $350. I've had the unit for about two months now.
The 3.5" - 16 color TFT screen has a resolution of 220x176 pixels (3.5" diagonally or 2.8"Hx2.0"W). The Garmin models have a 2.6" - 256 color screen with a resolution of 240x160 pixels. The Garmin display, although smaller, contains almost the same amount of pixels and can display more colors. In theory, this should provide a more detailed display. I have not seen the Garmin display in person so I cant say for sure. I can say that the eXplorist XL's display is bright enough to view in sunlight and has more than enough color and detail for reading a map. I prefer the larger display especially when on the road.
The unit comes with a USB connector. It requires 4 AA batteries. The unit has 28MB of internal memory and storage is virtually unlimited with removable SD cards. The unit does not come with an SD card - these must be purchased separately. Thankfully, they are inexpensive. The unit itself is solidly constructed with a rugged feel. It is water resistant.
The base map is very basic and only contains major highways. Plan on buying one of the optional detail maps.
There are two detail maps available for purchase on the included DVD. You must buy the maps online from Magellan to unlock the DVD. The maps are $150 each. You can also buy these maps via 3rd parties for about half the price but you will have to wait for the CD to be shipped to you.
The two primary detail maps that are available are:
MapSend DirectRoute North America and MapSend Topo 3D USA.
I've actually purchased both of these. Either of these will get you where you want to go with a few major differences.
DirectRoute is oriented toward auto travel and provides street routing with turn-by-turn directions. Topo 3D is geared for hiking and outdoor activities. It does NOT provide turn-by-turn directions but does provide elevation contour lines and other topographic details (streams, water, hills, valleys). Interestingly, the Topo 3D map
displays many more POI's (Points-Of-Interest) on the GPS than the DirectRoute map. DirectRoute covers most of USA and Canada whereas the Topo map is only USA. I happen to prefer the MapSend DirectRoute over the Topo since it has the turn-by-turn directions.
Once you have purchased a detail map - you use the supplied USB connector and map software to download regions to the GPS. A rectangular region covering Boston to Washington DC is about 128MB. This is a huge area covering all of the Boston, New York, Philadelphia and the Washington metro areas. Note that there are no further fees once you have purchased the detail map. You are free to download as many regions as you wish to your GPS. The maps are also fairly up to date. Roads constructed in the last two years or so will probably not be included. There were a few newer shopping centers missing from my neighborhood. Overall the detail map is good and accurate.
There are 7 buttons and one joystick to navigate through the display screens. All of the buttons are lighted for use in low light conditions.
The joystick also allows you to label custom Points-Of-Interest.
There are 4 main display screens:
1. Compass - (graphical compass + 2 customizable data fields). The compass will also display the current positions of the moon and sun. This can be an aid when you are trying to find a heading when standing still.
2. Position Data (lat/long/elevation,accuracy,date/time,trip odometer,a batter meter)
3. Satellite Status - which shows how many satellites are being tracked, their relative signal strength, and the lock status (2D Fix, 3D Fix, or searching).
4. Map Screen. The zoom in/out buttons allow the scale to be changed from 1700 mi to 100 ft. There are also 2 customizable data fields.
I've found that it is fairly easy to get street-by-street directions to a destination. I've run several tests while running errands and the explorist does a good job at computing directions. There are a few cases where the directions were less than ideal - for example - the explorist had me take a slow bumpy secondary road when a faster highway was available - but the results in general were good. Another nice feature is that the explorist can recompute directions on the fly. This is handy if you must detour for some reason - traffic,construction, wrong turn. The explorist displays your next turn and the distance until that turn. It makes audible notification about a half mile before each turn or transition.
I have also tried out the geocaching feature. This was my first time ever trying this so I was interested to see how it worked. I was able to download several geocaching points from the computer. The unit did a good job of leading me to the spots.
Finally, a word about the batteries. This unit can really drain the batteries - especially when you have the backlighting on. The specs say that the 4 AA batteries will last up to 14 hours with the backlight on low. I would say that the battery life is realistically about half that depending on how stingy you are with the backlight. The unit does come with a power saver - which turns off the backlight after a few minutes (This is adjustable). Also, there is no way to recharge your batteries with them in the unit. You must use an external battery recharger. There is an optional car adapter available which plugs into the USB cable.
Overall, I am very happy with my purchase.
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