User Comments on the Magellan GOLD by Doug Ward

1)  Why you picked out the GPS you did.

The primary reason was the address lookup feature.  Also, the ability to add memory was a plus.  My intent was to sell my Garmin 12Map and
purchase the Meridian Gold.

2)  What you like about your choice.

The memory card slot is fantastic.  It allows the addition of  SD cards and will now recognize up to 128 MB officially with the latest firmware release
v. 3.08.  I use a 64 MB card and can get the entire state of Illinois and a significant portion of all surrounding states on this one card.

Uploading detailed maps requires a card to be present and you also need the CD for Mapsend Streets or Mapsend Streets and Destinations.
Mapsend Streets is the original version of the software for the Magellan 330 line of GPS's.  I find it works quite well with the Meridian as well, but
I've ordered the Streets and Destinations to get maps with points of interest included.

In comparison to the Garmin Mapsource software, the Mapsend Streets has excellent street detail as well and even seems to include some newer
streets the Garmin software did not have.

The Meridian holds satellite lock very well and seems to acquire a lock much faster than my 12Map.  The antenna also seems to be a bit more
sensitive as it will get a lock in the house where the 12Map will not.

When entering data into the unit, a little keypad with letters and numbers appears.  This is a much easier and faster way to enter data than scrolling
through the alphabet.

WAAS.  Two W's are present on the satellite screen when the unit is using these satellites.

The basemap is fantastic.  They've really included more than you would expect in the average basemap.  Major streets are included as well as the
interstates.  This really helps if you're out of the area for which you have loaded maps, or if you don't intend to purchase the CD right now.  It's still a
very functional unit for the traveler.

Apparently you can also upload the marine map to your Gold.  See the Yahoo Meridian group for more info on this topic.  It is a somewhat detailed
process but is a definite plus for us boaters.

Cross-streets are displayed at the bottom of the map screen.  You can also setup a little window at the bottom to display the upcoming street in a
larger font.  This is VERY useful when traveling in an unfamiliar city.  The street it lists depends on the zoom level and detail level you have setup.
Very nice!

Other useful items are:  Audible alarms, Backlight with 2 settings, Best hunting/fishing times (myth?), 8 character waypoint names, Nice crisp
screen, It floats!, Anchor alarm, Simulate mode.

One of the most important items I like is the price.  For the money I really think you're getting a feature packed GPS with almost nothing left out for
the hiker, boater, and person who wants a portable unit for driving.

3)  What you do not like about your choice?

Basically the only real downfall to this unit for me is the address lookup feature.  Using address search, within any one of my detailed map sections, I
cannot get the 'near position' and 'alphabetical' to work.  Near position does not work at all.  Alphabetical sorts by street name but not by city.  If
you're using a large SD card this can take forever to find say Main Street in the town you're currently sitting.  Should be an easy firmware fix once they realize there's a problem.

Other, more minor issues IMO are:  No page flip (can only flip through lists one line at a time), Alarms aren't loud enough, Can't turn off WAAS with
the user menus (can do it through the 'secret' menu however).

4)  Your experiences in using your GPS receiver.

I really like this GPS.  It's a bit bigger than my 12Map and is lighter but I still think as robust.  I rarely lose a lock once it's acquired and I've been in
some pretty dense tree coverage.

I also think it's easier to see/read the screen when driving than my 12Map.  My battery life is good, and with only 2 AA batteries.  The 12Map was a
little longer but required 4 AA's.  Get the cig lighter adapter for the car/boat.  You won't be sorry.

5)  Does your GPS perform as you expected.

With the exception of the address lookup, yes.  It think in other areas it actually exceeded my expectations.  I will be very happy when they fix the
address problem.  In fact, I think with a louder alarm it would be nearly perfect.

6)  How is the manual?

Fair.  It leaves some info out but half the fun of a new toy is figuring out all the additional features.  The menus are pretty intuitive so you won't have
much trouble learning the unit.

7)  Other comments.

I never thought I would jump ship from Garmin but it always seemed they would come out with some nice new GPS and then leave some glaring
omission to it's feature set.  Magellan came out with the Meridian series and seemed to try and include every useful feature to the
hiker/boater/driver.  I'm confident they will add a few updates to the firmware and make this an obvious choice for those in search of a handheld
GPS.  The first update is already out BTW (3.08).

Doug Ward (

ADDENDA submitted by Doug Ward  (9/13/02) after having screen problems with a GOLD and PLATINUM
Meridian Gold/Platinum Update:

Shortly after receiving my Magellan Gold and after I wrote my original impressions I encountered a problem with the unit.  I think it's appropriate to put this as an addendum to my user review as I no longer feel as I did when I wrote it and no longer own the Meridian GPS.

Within the first month of using my Meridian Gold it developed a screen 'spot.'  This "spot" was light blue and only noticeable with the backlight on.  It was permanent.  I returned it and upgraded to the Platinum as a replacement.  Out of the box the Platinum was fine.  I took it the next day out on the boat for 4 hours on a sunny day in a holder mounted on the dash.  When I arrived home I turned on the backlight in a dark room and this time I had two of the spots a bit larger than before.  I kept the unit for a couple of days to see if they would go away but they did not.

Frustrated I sent the unit back and opted for a Garmin GPSMap 76S as a replacement  more than the Platinum.  Now I'm a happy camper.

In my opinion the spots are caused by direct sun exposure which is unacceptable for a GPS unit.  A few others have reported the same problem and you can read about it on the Yahoo Group 'Magellan Meridian GPS.'  It seems to be have affected a small  minority of those with the unit but this may be the result of continuous bright sunlight exposure in my situation.  Note that while the first unit was on the dash of my car for about 3 weeks it did not develop the spots.

Magellan was not responsive to email inquiries about the problem and technicians contracted by phone had not heard of the problem before.  Users intending to use current production models of Meridian may wish to consider this problem if the unit is intended to be used in direct sunlight for extended periods until Magellan corrects this problem in future production.

I had an extremely good experience with The GPS Store who treated me right and never once complained while I sent them back two defective Meridians. .  Hats off to The GPS Store for their willingness to stand behind the products they sell!!


Answer from Magellan Product Manager:
The fact is that there is an identified problem with Meridian displays from our vendor.  Doug was correct that it is
associated with sun exposure.  We are working on a replacement display that will fix this problem.  We will be contacting
customers who have this issue when a new display is available.

We will make any customer "whole" by replacing or repairing their unit for this problem as far into the future as is
necessary.  Please reassure your people that we intend to stand behind our products and that we sincerely appologize for
any inconvenience this problem may have caused.  The problem is isolated to the display and will not impact the overall
performance of the product.  So, customers can be assured that they can confidently use Meridians regardless of this issue.

Return to Joe and Jack's GPS Information Website Home Page