Best Low Priced Car Navigation Unit: Garmin vs. Magellan

The prices of car GPS navigational systems are falling – that’s the fact. However, it is also true that when it comes to really affordable models (around $400 or below), the choice gets smaller and is generally limited to only a few Garmin or Magellan GPS units.Garmin c320 (and c3x0 family) and Magellan RoadMate 2000 (and 2200T)Garmin c320 is probably the simplest and lowest priced of all Garmin GPS units and the same can be said about RoadMate 2000 and Magellan. They are available at roughly the same price – around $349.00 for c320 and $399.00 for Magellan RoadMate 2000 (the prices are for the products sold on Their newer models (c330 and RoadMate 2200T) are a little more expensive, they cost roughly $50-$100 more. Both product families seem to be intended for beginning users with only little experience with GPS units before.Screen: the LCD touch screen of Garmin c3x0 is the Achilles’ heel of this model and the low quality of the screen is the major complaint of c3x0 users. Unlike in case of most other Garmin GPS units, c3x0’s screen washes out in the daylight and the map becomes barely visible in the sunshine. RoadMate 2000/2200T units have no similar problems and their screens are able to show easily visible maps all the time.Batteries: While not the most important in case of using car GPS devices, batteries’ life is extremely important every time we want to plug our GPS unit from the car and go hiking. C3x0 are much better then – their batteries give c3x0 series Garmin GPS units over 4 hours of life, compared to maximum 3 hours of RoadMate 2000/2200T battery life. Generally, the RoadMate 2000/2200T family Magellan GPS units are intended for the car use only and should not be taken on hiking.Maps & software: Both families of GPS units rely on NAVTEC maps, one of the best GPS maps available. However, Garmin c3x0 GPS units store over 5 million POI (points of interest) compared with only 1.3 million in case of RoadMate 2000/2200T Magellan GPS units. In practice this means that c3x0 models can provide a lot more information and “see” more potentially interesting places nearby than RoadMate. As for the software, both models are tight-packed with various trip-planning and address-finding features (c3x0 models have a little more of everything, but not decisively so).While both interfaces were clear and friendly, we felt that the Magellan RoadMate 2000’s was a little easier to use, perhaps due to the better screen.The bottom line: These two navigational units are really a close match. While in case of most expensive ($700 plus) models, Garmin GPS units are virtually unbeatable, in case of economic models such as those presented above, Magellan GPS units are often just as good or even a little better than similar Garmin devices. We felt that RoadMate 2000/2200T models were better than Garmin c3x0. By inches, but better – mostly due to the better screens.

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