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December 31, 2012

Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 3 of 5
Buy this GPS from Amazon

Verdict: Huge Screen & Lots of Route Flexibility

Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB
Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB

The Bottom Line: Lackluster windshield mount and a user interface that's getting long in the tooth aside, the RoadMate 9250T-LMB excels in the most important area: routing. It's easy to customize the route to avoid certain roads, maximize or minimize highway usage, or simply detour around a traffic jam for a few miles and then resume the planned route.

The huge 7-inch screen and support for the optional Magellan wireless backup camera will please RV/large vehicle drivers.

Forward

Conclusion / recommendation / ratings are based on the opinion of the author. I recommend that you read the entire review before making any decision.

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Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Retail Box
Figure 1: Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Retail Box

What's in the Box
Figure 2: What's in the Box

The RoadMate 9250T-LMB includes the following items in the box:

  • Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB
  • Windshield mount
  • Vehicle power adapter
  • Adhesive disc for dash mounting
  • USB cable

Windshield Mount
Figure 3: Windshield Mount

The mini-USB power cable slips into the base of the windshield mount.

RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Connected to the Windshield Mount
Figure 4: RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Connected to the Windshield Mount

The RoadMate 9250T-LMB connects to the windshield mount by sliding the GPS down onto the cradle, so that the slot on the back of the RoadMate aligns with the tab on the cradle. Then slide the GPS all the way down until it rest on the two 'feet', and you hear a click.

Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB
Figure 5: Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB

The first thing you notice about the Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB is that it's huge -- significantly larger than most GPS devices available today.

Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB vs Apple iPhone 4S
Figure 6: Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB vs Apple iPhone 4S

Compared to the iPhone's 4-inch screen, the RoadMate 9250T-LMB's 7-inch screen looks enormous.

Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Front
Figure 7: Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Front

Physically, the RoadMate 9250T-LMB looks virtually identical to previous RoadMate models, except for the largeness of the 7-inch touchscreen.

A glossy black plastic bezel frames the touchscreen.

Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Top
Figure 8: Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Top

Except for the power switch on the top of the unit, there are no physical controls on the RoadMate 9250T-LMB. All functions are performed via the touch screen interface.

Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Back
Figure 9: Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Back

A single, rear-facing speaking is located on the lower-left corner of the back of the unit.

The 9250T-LMB's internal speaker is larger than those found on most other GPS devices, and produces deeper, crisper sound without distorting at high volume.

Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Bottom
Figure 10: Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Bottom

The bottom of the RoadMate 9250T-LMB is where you'll find:

  • an A/V input connector (for connecting the optional Magellan backup camera)
  • USB Connection - Power input from the included vehicle power adapter (or optional AC adapter, sold separately). The USB port is also used to connect the RoadMate to your computer and install map/firmware updates
  • micro SD card slot - used for installing optional map regions (available for purchase from Magellan)

Installing the Magellan RoadMate in a Vehicle

Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Mounted in the Car
Figure 11: Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Mounted in the Car

Installing the RoadMate 9250T-LMB in the car is a quick and simple process that you can do yourself, and doesn't require any professional installation.

Pick a spot on the windshield where you'll be able to see the GPS easily, but it won't interfere with your view of the road. I typically install the GPS in the center of the windshield, about midway between the rear view mirror and the dashboard. Some people also like to install the GPS in the lower-left corner of the windshield.

Connect the Vehicle Power Adapter
Figure 12: Connect the Vehicle Power Adapter

Plug the included vehicle power adapter into your vehicle's cigarette lighter.

Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Connected to Windshield Mount
Figure 13: Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Connected to Windshield Mount

Press the base of the mount (the rubber suction cup part) against the windshield glass, and then push the lever all the way down (towards the windshield) until it locks into place.

Slide the GPS all the way down until it rest on the two 'feet', and you hear a click. Once the GPS is docked to the windshield mount, turn the device into the desired viewing angle and then twist the locking ring to secure the GPS in place.

Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Connected to Windshield Mount
Figure 14: Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Connected to Windshield Mount

The RoadMate 9250T-LMB is significantly larger (and heavier) than previous models, and the included windshield mount doesn't feel up to the task of holding the GPS securely in place.

Throughout my testing, the windshield mount would periodically fall off the window. Also problematic was that the RoadMate would shake around so much that I had to rest the bottom of the RoadMate on my dashboard (as shown above) to reduce the vibration while driving.

Using the Magellan RoadMate 9250T-LMB

RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Main Menu
Figure 15: RoadMate 9250T-LMB, Main Menu

Using the RoadMate 9250T-LMB feels virtually identical to previous Magellan RoadMate models: you can navigate to a street address, intersection, city center, or Point of Interest (e.g. restaurant or gas station).

QuickSpell
Figure 16: QuickSpell

As with previous models, address entry is relatively straight forward: Magellan's QuickSpell feature checks the database for cities or streets that begin with the letters entered. Any letters that could not be used to spell a city or street name are grayed out. This helps speed address entry and reduce errors.

Map Screen
Figure 17: Map Screen

The RoadMate 9250T retains the same basic map layout as previous Magellan GPS units.

Magellan's Map Screen, Explained
Figure 18: Magellan's Map Screen, Explained

Most of the time you'll be looking at the Map screen, shown above. The map screen displays the following elements:

  1. Turn instructions for next maneuver. Tap to display the turn list, and repeat the last verbal instruction.
  2. Traffic - Indicates the GPS is receiving traffic data. A green triangle indicates traffic signals are being receiver and no delay is found on the route. A red triangle indicates the traffic delay is more than 15% of the entire route. The delay (in minutes) is displayed.
  3. Information display - Displays speed, time of day, elevation, compass direction. Can also display the distance to destination, estimated time of arrival (ETA), and time remaining. Tapping this field lets you choose what you want displayed.
  4. Zoom in and zoom out controls to change the map scale
  5. Access to the Main Menu
  6. Access the list of nearest Highway Exit POIs (only displayed when driving on a highway)
  7. Volume controls
  8. Bluetooth functions (for hands-free calling when paired with a cell phone)
  9. OneTouch Menu - shortcut to saved searches and favorite destinations

Speed Limit Information
Figure 19: Speed Limit Information

When available, speed limit information is also displayed on the map screen.

During my testing, most major roads had speed limit information available on the RoadMate 9250T.

Avoiding A Specific Road
Figure 20: Avoiding A Specific Road

The RoadMate 9250T-LMB easily lets you avoid a specific road along your planned route:

Access the maneuver list from the Map screen (by tapping on the maneuver icon in the top left corner of the map screen). Then just tap the Avoid icon (circled in figure 20 above) for the maneuver you want to avoid.

Highway Exit POI's
Figure 21: Highway Exit POIs

The Highway Exit POIs is a handy function that lets you easily see what businesses are available at upcoming highway exits along your route.

Highway Exit POIs include restaurants, gas stations, car repair facilities, and hotels. Tapping on a business name will allow you to navigate to that business. Note that the distance, direction, and AAA rating are displayed next to each business name.

Route Options
Figure 22: Route Options

At any time, you can manually change the routing method the RoadMate 9250T uses to calculate the route to your destination. By default, the GPS looks for the fastest time to your destination. However, there may be times when you want to force the use of highways, or avoid highways.

To change the routing method, tap Options from the main 'Go' screen.

Conclusion

 

Magellan's new 7-inch RoadMate 9250T-LMB is all about road safety: the huge 7-inch touchscreen display feels huge compared to standard size GPS devices (or smartphones). The map is easy to read from the driver's seat. An optional wireless backup camera which provides the driver with a rear view when the vehicle is in reverse can be added to the RoadMate 9250T -- a handy feature for RV's/large vehicles.

The RoadMate 9250T-LMB also includes something called Bluetooth Safe Texting -- a feature that lets you send pre-written text messages while driving.

Also included is Bluetooth for hands-free calling, traffic camera alerts, and "junction view" for navigating highway intersections.

Lifetime traffic and map updates are included for free. Red light and speed camera alerts are included, but updates to those databases are not free.

The included windshield mount is insufficient for such a large GPS, and it kept falling of the windshield and wobbling all over the place while driving. RoadMate 9250T owners will likely want to purchase a dashboard friction mount instead, or a 3rd party windshield mount.

Overall, the RoadMate 9250T's interface feels sluggish, and in need of an update.

Lackluster windshield mount and a user interface that's getting long in the tooth aside, the RoadMate 9250T-LMB excels in the most important area: routing. It's easy to customize the route to avoid certain roads, maximize or minimize highway usage, or simply detour around a traffic jam for a few miles and then resume the planned route. Such features seem obvious, yet many GPS devices lack these important capabilities (or have them buried so deep in menus that they are hard to find).

Previous Magellan owners will feel right at home with the RoadMate 9250T-LMB. Little has changed from previous models, except for the large screen and support for the wireless backup camera option. If you're already a Magellan fan and are looking for a large-screen GPS, the RoadMate 9250T-LMB may be just the ticket.

Pros

Plus Large, 7-inch touchscreen feels noticeably larger that standard 4 or 5 inch GPS models
Plus Unique wireless backup-camera support (sold separately)
Plus Includes lifetime free traffic and map updates
Plus Built-in traffic camera alerts
Plus Nice route customization flexibility (avoid specific roads, stay off/on highways, etc.

Cons

Minus Sluggish interface
Minus Shaky windshield mount
Minus Map screen could use a design refresh