The RoadMate 1470 hits enough bullet points to make it competitive with PNDs in its price range.
Text-to-speech turn-by-turn directions enable the unit to read street names and exits aloud. Three languages are supported out of the box (English, Spanish, and French) with only one voice per language. Graphic lane guidance helps with navigating complex freeway interchanges by displaying a representation of the intersection and highway signs, while indicating what lanes are valid for the current route.
Maps and POIs are provided for all 50 United States, plus Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico. In addition to the millions of POIs in Magellan's database, the 1470 includes a AAA database of approved auto repair shops, AAA branch offices, TourBook Destinations, and POIs that offer discounts to AAA members. If you're a AAA member, the RoadMate 1470 can also help to get you in contact with Roadside Assistance, but without a Bluetooth hands-free connection built in, we presume you'll have to do the dialing yourself.
One of the most useful features--and one that is, as far as we can tell, unique to the RoadMate series--is the OneTouch menu. This is a customizable shortcut menu where users can store up to six quick links to commonly accessed searches and locations. For example, we were able to store a link to the CNET offices and a search for our favorite fast food restaurant. In addition to the six user-customizable links, the OneTouch menu also features permanent links to Home, Previous destinations, Local Info, GPS status, and Emergency services.
On most of the map and menu screens, the OneTouch icon lives in the upper right-hand corner. Tapping that icon causes the OneTouch menu to slide down.
The unit doesn't include traffic monitoring out of the box, but can be upgraded with an add-on FM receiver.
Starting with a cold boot and a clear sky, we powered up the Magellan RoadMate 1470. It took a scant 30 seconds from the flip of the switch to the display of the home screen. Selecting View Map and waiting for our position to be confirmed took another 34 seconds, which is rather impressive.
Searching for a destination, we settled on a fast food restaurant a few miles away. Within 5 seconds, we were presented with the GO button and an ETA of 12 minutes. This is where we first noticed the Route Options button. After a quick press and a 5-second wait, we were greeted by four potential routes, each with their own ETA. Clicking the preview map button in the bottom right-hand corner, we were presented with four color-coded routes overlaid onto the same map. That the RoadMate could calculate four routes in the time most units calculate one is impressive in its own right, but the level of flexibility this feature affords the driving enthusiast is quite cool.
After taking into consideration that the fastest route was only a minute quicker than the shortest route and that the shortest route looked more interesting on the map, we chose the short route and locked in our destination. That this whole search and deliberation happened over the span of about 2 minutes is a testament to the speed and efficiency of the RoadMate's interface.
The RoadMate 1470 matches (or exceeds) the performance of the competing TomTom and Garmin units when it comes to basic functions (such as routing, booting, and positioning), and we can really appreciate the extra interface real estate provided by that huge 4.7-inch screen. However, while the RoadMate gives driving enthusiasts and map geeks a good deal of granular control over their routes, Garmin and TomTom both have systems in place that automatically find the fastest or most fuel efficient route with no tinkering involved.
This isn't to say that the RoadMate is difficult to use. Its interface features large icons for the most commonly used functions; and the OneTouch menu allows users to make the interface even easier to navigate.
Compared with, for example, the TomTom XL 340S and the Garmin Nuvi 255W, the RoadMate 1470 represents about a $20-$40 savings on the MSRP. So for less money, you get comparable core functionality and a bigger screen. If you can deal with the wonky car mount, this Magellan unit is a pretty good deal.