With its ever-growing library of navigation apps, the iPhone seems like a great way to get turn-by-turn directions without getting a whole other device. However, with a loudspeaker the size of a pinhole, GPS draining its battery, and occasionally questionable location accuracy, even the mighty iPhone could use a little help.
The Magellan Premium Car Kit aims to fix all of these issues by combining a 12-volt charger, a noise-cancelling Bluetooth speakerphone, and a built-in GPS receiver for more accurate GPS location. If this all sounds familiar, it's because we've been down this road with the TomTom Car Kit for iPhone, which we criticized for being too pricey.
The Magellan Car Kit features a good deal of adjustability in its design. The cradle mounts to the vehicle's windshield or dashboard with an adhesive disk, using a strong suction cup that locks into place with a lever. At the top of the mount's neck is a ball joint that can be positioned freely and then locked into place by tightening a knob. Even when locked in at the ball joint, the cradle can be spun 360-degrees for portrait or landscape orientation, with stops in 90-degree increments.
The cradle features an adjusting retaining arm at the top that can be extended to accommodate hard cases for the iPhone or shortened to accommodate the shorter iPod Touch. You simply press the retaining arm release button on the right side of the device and move the arm to the appropriate height. At the back of the cradle is a switch that adjusts the back support block to keep your device firmly locked in. Even the 30-pin dock connector at the base of the cradle is slightly elongated to reach into thick cases and features a few degrees of wiggle room, thanks to its rubber mount.
Along the left edge of the cradle, you'll find the volume dial and, if you look closely, a pinhole microphone. On its right edge, just below the release button, are an auxiliary audio output and a Mini-USB port for connecting the included 12-volt power adapter.
Besides holding your iPhone or iPod Touch in place, the Magellan Premium Car Kit features a noise-canceling speaker phone that pairs via Bluetooth to your device. After pairing with a four digit PIN, phone calls are routed through the Magellan's speakerphone. The system doesn't seem to support A2DP audio streaming; but with an iPhone connected, the Magellan makes use of the dock connector to send audio and spoken turn-by-turn commands to the loudspeaker.