The Magellan Map 330(X) Mapping GPS Receiver
 A Review by Joe Mehaffey and Jack Yeazel
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(Ver 2.08 Featured described including WAAS 4Dec 2002)

A Compact Full Featured GPS Receiver

The Magellan Map-330 (Ver. 1.05) $230 (X $280) US Mapping GPS receiver is an important evolutionary step in consumer GPS receivers incorporating maps.  It is a full featured and low cost receiver with a built-in 8 megabyte basemap showing worldwide political boundaries,  U.S. cities, highways, major roads, national parks, waterways and railways. The M- 330 also has another 8 megabytes of "flash" memory available for uploading detailed street maps, waypoints and routes from Magellan's new MapSend Streets CD-ROM (sold separately).   It's a direct competitor to the Garmin eMap.  M330 includes many new features including WAAS in Version 2.08 firmeare

NOTES:  "X" is a unit bundled with a City Streets map CD.  See (HERE) for a review of Magellan's optional topographic map.

Despite the relatively low cost and conventional design,  the M-330 in our opinion is a step forward in mapping GPS products.  While Garmin has used "product differentiation" by equiping low-cost models with small but irritating feature deficiencies while NOT offering a "full featured model with large map memory",  Magellan apparently decided to offer customers an attractive alternative.

Even though it does not offer "all features known",  the M-330 offers all of the features we feel are essential for hiking and highway and marine navigation along with a large map memory and a robust and relatively watertight case at an attractive price.   While the M-330 offers all of the important features of its similar cousin, the M-315,  it has an improved user interface and the decided advantage of an 8 megabyte user uploadable map memory and a good quality base map.  This unit now has "Pan and Zoom"!

Magellan offers a companion USA MapSend Streets mapping system for the M-330.  The functions are similar to the familiar Garmin MapSource R&R product, except that the current streetname or approaching intersection is displayed (as with Garmin's more expensive MetroGuide maps).  It offers map quality apparently of a later database than Garmin R&R maps but not as up to date as the newer Garmin MetroGuide USA (ver II).  The original SOURCE of these Magellan maps is the US Tiger maps,  but we see a number of corrections and new streets beyond the data in older Garmin's R&R and Lowrance map products.  (See comparison map samples (HERE).

The MapSend (ver 1.00) that we evaluated was easy to use,  and includes an important feature missing in Garmin's MapSource.  To select a map area for upload,  the user positions the cursor in the upper left of his desired area,  holds the left mouse button, and then pulls the cursor to the point where he wants the other diagonal of a box to fall.  MapSend generates a rectangle of this arbitrary user specified area.  The user NAMES this map area and then can select one or more map areas for upload.   Magellan's 330 (like other manufacturers) automatically erases map memory prior to uploading new maps. A new feature in Ver. 1.08 is that in addition to being able to find an address in the MapSend map, it now also can be done in the GPS itself and not just in the PC.  The M330 can hold a maximum of FOUR separate and distinct user outlined map "areas" up to the 8meg max map memory.  Map memory is NOT expandable beyond the 8 megs. (Some competitive models such as eMap can go to 128meg but larger memories can be expensive.)

Magellan has set a new price point for computer uploadable street maps by pricing the MapSend STREETS at US$50.  (For the Fall of 2000,  Magellan is offering STREETS  and a data cable "free" with the purchase of a M-330 GPS unit.  This price is about $270)   Check latest prices (HERE).  Note: The DataSend POI product designed for use with the M315/320 is NOT compatible with the M-330.  On occasion, the uploaded street-level maps aren't visible, but re-booting the GPS generally displays the streets.  The base map of the M-330 (Ver. 1.01) is generally superior to that of the earlier Garmin units up to and including eMap.  It contains (some) local streets, more rivers and railroads, plus considerably more lake shoreline detail than that of the eMap.

For a review by GpsNuts see (HERE).
Also for a complete User Interface .pdf diagram for Ver. 1.56 by Thomas Ferguson see (HERE).

MapSend CD

MapSend allows the user to position waypoints on the PC based map and then later place two or more of these waypoints into a route.  The route and waypoints (and tracks) can then be uploaded to the M-330.  Likewise,  downloading of routes,  tracks and waypoints FROM the GPS to MapSend is available.   MapSend (unlike Garmin MapSource or MetroGuide) allows you to FIND a street address,  city,  town,  airport,  parks,  etc.  using the PC program.  You can then place a waypoint at a particular street address or other point of interest, and with Ver. 1.08 the M-330 also can FIND street addresses in the GPS itself.  The M-330 does not have the extensive POI database provided by the M-315.  We consider that POIs are of limited usefulness anyway and are much happier that the memory space was used for considerably higher map resolution. (HERE) is a temporary file with Magellan's latest protocol document which supposedly includes the M-330.

MapSend  (like Garmin  and Lowrance) does NOT offer real time tracking capability such as is offered by Delorme and others.  Map assembly and loading (an automatic process) is rather time consuming compared with MetroGuide and an eMap.  It takes about 15 minutes or so to convert plus about 10 minutes to  upload an 8 meg map of the Atlanta area into M-330.  (This using a P-II, 400mhz, 96meg computer.)  This is the price of user flexibility and provides for the flexibility of being able to select large or small map sections of one's own choosing for upload.  (Note:  If you have room on your hard drive to do the "full install" of the 650meg MapSend program,  Map conversion time is reduced by more than half.)  Once a map conversion has occurred,  MapSend stores the "converted" map section  so that on future uploads,  reprocessing the selected map section is not required.  The initial handshake with the M-330 is at 4800 baud,  but the system switches to  higher speeds up to 115kbaud for map upload if your computer will accept this high speed.  Many computers can operate reliably at 115kbaud  with the M330 if the GPS has relatively fresh batteries.

Keyboard Controls

The keyboard contains the usual buttons on the lower half of the unit (ESC, NAV, mark/GOTO, menu, enter and power)  plus an up/down/left/right rocker switch.  The buttons are easy to push and the layout comfortable.  The NAV button cycles the navigation screens in one direction, and the ESC button cycles them in the other.  There are five  NAV screens and  one Map Position screen available.  Similar to  the Garmin's,  screens are  selected in sequence with the NAV or ESC button rather than from a menu.  There is little delay between screens in the M-330.  The M-330 maintains a map memory cache somewhat larger than the screen display so panning to areas a short distance off the displayed screen is fast and smooth.  Redisplay  of a fresh map section when you pan beyond loaded map extent is typically about 8 seconds.  (Better than most).

Pressing the MENU button brings up a common (and well organized) menu on all screens.  The menu allows for Hide Nav Info,  Map Setup,  Track Clearing,  Find Nearest database search,  Route,  Setup system,  Sun/Moon,  Fish/Hunt,  Contrast,  Alarms/Msg,  and Help.  The M-330 has  unique "tips" screens which offer advice and information on using the GPS.  We found this feature quite handy since our beta test unit came without a manual.    The NAV and MAP  screens are customizable with a selection from fourteen  navigation data readouts.    These include:  bearing,  heading,  distance speed,  VMG,  CTS, ETA, ETE, XTE, TURN,  Elevation,  and Time.     The Position screen can be alternated with the Lat/Long screen with the Left/Right rocker.   Take heart!  The M-330 can pan and ZOOM at the same time.  One  momentary push of the PWR button is all that's required to turn the power OFF 4 second time-out.  Holding the button for several seconds turns on the display and keypad lighting.


Waypoints are created by HOLDING the MARK/GoTo button  which assigns an automatic serialized name of 'WPT 001' and etc.  A unique display "keyboard matrix" of letters, numbers, and punctuation allows very EASY user entry of up to 8 character  waypoint names and a 20 character comment message to go with the waypoint if desired.   We REALLY appreciate the ease of use of this name entry method compared with the means used by other brands.   With the M-330,  you can even use upper and lower case letters in a waypoint name to perhaps reduce screen clutter.  Waypoints can be turned on or off as an all or none function.

If the Mark/GoTo button is pressed only once (and fairly quickly), the  GOTO function is entered.    The user can then select from user waypoints,  nearby cities,  highways,  airports,  waterways,  national parks, etc.  If Database > User (waypoints) is selected, either Nearest or Alphabetical lists are available.  A new feature of Ver. 1.08 is that you now can view any selected waypoint at its map location.


Three variations of NMEA sentences are selectable:  Mode "1.5 APA": APA, BWC, GLL, & VTG  Mode "1.5 XTE": BWC, GLL, VTG, & XTE and Mode "2.1 GSA": APB, GGA*, GLL, GSA*, GSV, RMB, & RMC*.  The (*) indicates sentences required for real-time tracking by Street Atlas.

 Compass and Sun/Moon Screens

The M-330's compass screen contains a unique display of the sun and moon positions (when above the horizon).  With this information, one can point the sun icon to the sun (or moon icon to the moon) and determine approximate true north without the necessity of moving or using an accessory compass. The Sun/Moon screen shows  the current (or past/future/different-location moon-phase, and sun/moon rise, and set times.


The walking tracklogs of Ver. 1.08 are much improved.   See comparison with a Garmin eMap while walking a figure-eight pattern with the long dimension about 100 feet (HERE).  However, non-existent track lines are drawn between where the unit is turned off (or loses lock) and where the unit is turned on (or regains lock).  The M-330 locks on quite quickly, but usually some distance from the actual location, and then jumps back to the correct location.  See example (HERE).

Software Compatibility

This version of the M-330 can exchange and store data with Street Atlas 7 (with the "AllGPSUpdate.exe" fix),  or SA8, Delorme TOPO, OziExplorer,  MapSend, and possibly others.  As of this writing,  waypoints can be uploaded from Street Atlas, but the waypoint names are truncated to six characters.  However, the full name appears in the "Comments" field.   If SA7/8 is used to generate a route and an attempt is made to upload the route,  the waypoints associated with the route upload fine, but the route does not.   Icons are replaced by a default square box.  Apparently in order to exchange data with Street Atlas 8 at 19,200 baud, one must select NMEA mode 2.1.

Ozi will exchange waypoint and track data with the M-330.  However, with Ozi one can download Garmin  waypoints and then upload them to the M-330 provided the waypoint icon number is less than 43 (the  M-330 has a total of 42 icons).  We doubt that any 3rd party software will fully support all functions  without an update.   Ozi, SA7/8, and Delorme TOPO  can download and display tracks from the GPS.  Ozi can upload them back to the GPS, but SA7/8 and TOPO cannot.

Version 1.08 Features

1. Added street address search capability!  Now you can search for addresses with the MAP330 just as you can
   in MapSend Streets.
2. Any selected waypoint can be viewed at its map location.
3. Tracklogs can be recorded with trackpoints every 0.01km instead of 0.05km.
4. Enhanced the map screen "quick info" box.  The user can now customize the MAP330 by selected
   whether to display navigation or street information in this box.
5. Added the display of the destination waypoint of a backtrack route.
6. Increased the speed of pan-n-scan cursor movement.
7. Help tips revised and enhanced.

The first thing you notice about the M-330 is its small size and light weight.  It weighs about 7.5 oz.  (~210gm) with its two AA batteries.   (The 315 weighs  6.5 oz.  The comparable Garmin eMap weighs 6.7 oz.)  The M-330 (and M315 and eMap) only require two AA batteries.  Battery life of the M-330 is quoted at 10 hours and 12 hours for the eMap.  The  units are approximately the same size.  Screen resolution of the M-330 is 104 x 160 pixels and eMap 120 x 160 pixels.

The firmware version No. of the unit reviewed is 1.08 (which is visible at power-up).   HERE is how you can update the firmware in your unit.

Unit cost is about $$250US and $39US for the data/power cable.  Accuracy is stated as 15m rms (95% confidence).  Upon detecting no receiver movement, the receiver automatically goes into an averaging mode in order to refine its position estimate.  A feature not seen in most other GPS receivers is, "The best time for hunting and fishing".   (Folklore or Speculation,  we could not tell which.)

What other GPS features does the M-330 have?
Sensitive 12-parallel channel receiver
500 waypoints, 20 reversible routes with 30 legs
Waypoints recorded include altitude of the waypoint.
Proximity alarms with audio beeper
2-level Electro Luminescent Backlit display and keypad
Displays distance, bearing, heading, steering, speed, time to go, elevation, XTE, time
Standard satellite elevation screen
1200 point Track record
Resetable trip odometer
"EZstart" position initialization
9 coordinate systems: Latitude/Longitude, UTM, OSGB, Swiss, Swedish, Irish, Finnish, French and German
126 map datums
NMEA data output for PC interface
DGPS ready
It floats!
Pocket Size, 6.0" (h) x 2.0" (w) x 1.3" (d) / 15.75 cm x 5.0 cm x 3.3 cm

Other Characteristics
The battery drain was measured as 165ma with regular alkaline batteries.  This would indicate about a 10-hour battery life as advertised (or 20 hours for four AA batteries normally required in many  GPS units).  Note:  For typical GPS applications,  Lithium or Alkaline batteries have the most available energy.  Rechargeable batteries of all kinds have less.

Pinout: If you look at the back of the unit's contacts and number them from left to right as 1,2,3,4 then:

315/320/330 Contacts  Other connections
 1 = Data in (pin 3 on DB-9) yellow wire.
 2 = Regulated 3.86vdc, red wire.
 3 = Ground (pin 5 on DB-9) and ground on cigarette-lighter  plug, black wire.
 4 = Data out (pin 2 on DB-9) orange wire.

What is our overall opinion of the M-330?
The M-330 with its small size, light weight, sturdy construction,  watertight case,  clear and detailed screen,  excellent maps,  low cost and extensive feature set  should be one of the most popular GPSs of the year.   There are no glaring feature omissions which would cause users problems.  The redesigned user interface is very simple to use and learn.  Battery life at 10 hours for just 2 AA cells is acceptable.   (Some users report somewhat less.)    For an approximate "street price" of  $250 Magellan is currently offering the M-330 with data cable and a "free" copy of MapSend STREETS (USA) for a limited time.  This is a superior value. Check Latest PricesHERE.

What we did not like about the M-330.
1) The limited number of Datums available will be a problem for some.
2) We like to see a "highway style cross track error display" for marine use.  However,  M-330 does offer a XTE readout window.
3) We like to have an input for an external amplified antenna which is not available on the M-330.
4) Uploadable maps are limited to the (good  quality) USA highway map.  Hopefully Magellan will expand the available maps quickly.
5) Several users have complained about the long time necessary to step through waypoints when the quantity gets large.

Note:  version 1.05 firmware for the M-330 is available for download from the Magellan website if a M-330 purchased happens to have an earlier version of firmware.

There is a Magellan 330 user's forum HERE

Please send corrections and comments to
Joe Mehaffey (features write-up)
Jack Yeazel (software and mapping)