Magellan company logoFounded in 1986, Magellan Navigation is an America-based producer of consumer and professional grade global positioning navigation systems and other related electronic devices. Well known for their high-quality GPS devices and excellent design, Magellan is a widely known brand name in the North American GPS market, as well as being very popular in Europe and Asia. Magellan currently operates out of their main office in Santa Clara, California, but they also have major sales centers in Nantes, France and Moscow, Russia. Magellan holds over 200 patents in GPS technology, and is recognized as a major innovator and a leader in the electronics industry.

Many of the most popular brands of GPS units are designed and manufactured by Magellan Navigation. From the award-winning RoadMate to popular bicycle GPS devices like the Cyclo, Magellan has a long history of producing excellent consumer electronics with a wide range of applications.

The History of Magellan Navigation

Magellan started off as an independent electronics company based in the famous Silicon Valley, near San Francisco, California, but several larger corporations eventually bought them out. In 1994 the Orbital Sciences Corporation purchased Magellan and together they designed many of the GPS transmitters used in satellites today. In 2001 The Thales Group purchased Magellan along with several other divisions of Orbital Sciences to create Thales Navigation. Five years later, Thales Navigation was purchased by Shah Capital Partners and the company was officially renamed Magellan Navigation.

Magellan came to prominence very early in the company’s history because they created the world’s first commercial handheld GPS receiver. In 1989, Magellan unveiled the NAV 1000, a device that signaled a major turning point in the popularity and acceptance of consumer satellite navigation systems. In 1997 Magellan broke new ground again by producing the first handheld consumer satellite communicator, paving the way for modern smartphone technologies and military satellite phones.

Consumer GPS Systems

Magellan Navigation produces many variants of portable vehicle GPS systems, hiking GPS systems, and sports (bicycle) satellite navigation systems. Over the past twenty years, Magellan has designed and produced many popular GPS devices, and they continue to release several new products each year. Magellan has built a reputation for offering up-to-date technologies in an affordable package, while adding many new features and applications with each product upgrade.

The RoadMate

Primarily focused on vehicle navigation, the Roadmate is considered one of the best portable automotive navigations systems currently on the market. The most recent variant of the Magellan RoadMate comes with rechargeable lithium-ion batteries that last approximately two hours when fully charged. Many models of Roadmate have larger screens than most of their competitors, measuring about five-and-a-half inches. Modern iterations of the GPS system come with a high-definition touch screen, which streamlines navigating menus and entering information. Many of the Roadmate systems come with built-in Bluetooth technology, so the device can double as a speakerphone or MP3 player. The most popular Magellan Roadmate models are the Roadmate 9250T-LMB, Roadmate 5045-LM and the Roadmate 1700-MU.

Bluetooth integration and Internet connectivity have become major selling points for vehicle GPS systems because many places prohibit cell phone use while driving. Many government agencies recommend using hands-free devices like Bluetooth headsets instead of operating your phone, which can distract you from driving and may cause an accident. That’s why many automotive GPS systems have incorporated voice activation, Bluetooth, and Internet technologies, so the user can sit back and pay attention the road while the GPS does all the work.

Along with new and advanced technologies, the RoadMate system includes many features that you would expect to find in a high-end GPS system, including turn-by-turn instructions and multiple destination programming. The GPS also comes with landmark guidance, a programmable address book, and an AAA tour book loaded with over six million points of interest. Another new feature that pushes the Roadmate ahead of its competition is the addition of live traffic updates. By crowd sourcing data from other Magellan GPS devices and constantly analyzing local news feeds, the Roadmate can detect traffic jams along your route and send you on a detour that can shave minutes to hours off your commute. The RoadMate also keeps track of traffic camera locations using Magellan’s patented PhantomALERT technology.

The Maestro

Magellan’s first crossover series, the Maestro is an excellent vehicle GPS system that can also be used for pedestrian navigation. The Maestro is a popular all-purpose navigation device that includes turn-by-turn directions when you’re on the road, and detailed 3D maps for when you’re out walking. The Maestro includes the same navigational systems of the Roadmate, along with off-road walking routes and a smaller, easy-to-carry design.

These days, many cell phones have some form of internal GPS system, but none of them can compare to an independent GPS device. Smartphones have a tendency to be inaccurate and run out of battery charge quickly when used as a GPS navigator. When used for pedestrian navigation, a GPS devices needs to be reliable, accurate, and have an extended battery life. The Maestro comes with a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that will last for over three hour when fully charged. The GPS is accurate down to five meters and comes preloaded with maps of nearly every traversable location in North America.

Many of the products in the Maestro line come with advanced Bluetooth, which lets the user listen to radio broadcasts, play MP3s, and talk on the phone. These features help increase user attentiveness because they don’t have to fiddle with their smartphones when out on the road, decreasing the risk of a phone-related accident. The Maestro also comes with AAA roadside assistance that will help you contact the nearest towing company if your car breaks down, or emergency services if you encounter a more serious problem.

EXplorist and Triton

The Magellan eXplorist and Triton series are two of the best handheld GPS units built specifically for hikers, campers, and outdoor enthusiasts. They both built to be durable, impact-resistant, and receive a clear satellite signal from anywhere in North America. Even through thick foliage, the hiking GPS systems can determine your location, elevation, destination distance, and estimated time of arrival.

They also come with built-in cameras and are capable of geo-tagging and setting up waypoints for future journeys. The GPS devices come standard with a built-in compass, barometric altimeter, and preloaded topographic maps. New maps can be installed using an external SD card, or through a USB connection to any Mac or PC computer.