Magellan Roadmate 3045 LM
Magellan Roadmate 3045 LM. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Paul Williams

I’m not sure whether all portable GPS units deteriorate over time, but mine exhibited problems after five years of good service. It’s possible that because Garmin stopped supporting my Nuvi 350, its mapping became so out-of-date that it got lost more often than not.

Whatever the reason, retiring the Garmin also meant ditching Karen, the efficient but somewhat petulant Australian avatar who’d been the voice of my Nuvi. But it was clear that relationship was going nowhere.

Portable GPS units are so inexpensive now that a replacement was not a major purchase. Responding to an email offer by Magellan, I opted to return to a RoadMate (the first little RoadMate I owned, about 10 years ago, cost $1,500!).

The list of Magellan units from which I could select — all costing around $200 — was extensive, but checking the feature list of each device, they seemed to offer similar utilities. A careful reading identified one unit that offered a feature none of the others possessed: free lifetime mapping updates.

Magellan Roadmate 3045 LM
Magellan Roadmate 3045 LM. Click image to enlarge

At $229.99, the Magellan RoadMate 3045-LM has an 11.1-centimetre (4.7-inch) touch-screen and announces street names when giving directions (even some factory-installed systems don’t do this). It also generates traffic alerts and re-route options as you drive, and contains the usual points of interest to assist with locating fuel, food, bank machines and accommodation as you travel.

Another useful feature is “Highway lane assist,” where your direction of travel is clearly marked at intersections and where roads diverge in multiple directions. According to the feature list, this is only available in the U.S., but it works in selected Canadian locations as well.

I purchased the 3045-LM directly from Magellan at You do have to register to use this site for commerce, but it’s a smooth process. Don’t forget to look in the left-hand menu where you can change your location from the default United States to Canada. Pricing will then be in Canadian dollars and the shipping charge is $6.00.

And if you can figure it out (I couldn’t) you can get a 15 per cent reduction in price based on your membership in CAA (if you have one). It would be nice if you could just key in your valid CAA number to receive this, but it’s more complicated than that. Maybe the 1-800 support number would have helped if I’d called.

The device arrived after a few days, and was ready to use pretty much right out of the box. You do have to download some interface software onto your computer from the Magellan support web site, but it’s not onerous. One thing I noticed immediately is the absence of an AC adapter, which is available as an optional accessory. I suppose it’s just one more gadget to lose, when you think about it.

A familiar Magellan characteristic is the clunky cradle that you use to power and mount your GPS on the windshield. You have to carefully slide the unit in, taking care not to bend the power outlet while doing so. It works, but it’s delicate, and I thought it would have been updated by now. So far, the suction-cupped windshield mount has not fallen off, but it does droop.

Unlike the Garmin GPS, there are no custom voices, although the standard American woman’s voice is clear enough. Nor is the vehicle icon customizable, being a rather large triangle that’s adequate.

The display image is bright and clear and the unit itself is light and thin enough to easily put in your pocket.

Magellan GPS units don’t give you your speed en route, unless you press the bottom left corner of the display. Your speed (and altitude) stays visible for a few seconds, and then disappears.

The Roadmate has a larger display than my outgoing Nuvi, and this is appreciated. It also activates faster than the Nuvi (which sometimes took 10 minutes to get its bearings), usually taking only a few seconds.

Instructions are clear, and mispronunciations are acceptable. But making my way through an unfamiliar and busy major city (Montreal) was not without incident. Several times the instructions were unclear, and the unit was too slow to respond to the changing roads. When it counted, I feel the RoadMate let me down.

I also wonder about the lack of customization. By now I thought I’d be able to download voices, icons, colours and set it up to my personal preference. But with the Magellan you pretty much get what they give, and adapt to it.

The Garmin, issues notwithstanding, seems a more sophisticated and reliable unit, even at five years old.

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