In the debate between dedicated PNDs (personal navigation devices) and navigation-based apps on smartphones, Magellan has come out with a solution that essentially blends the best of both worlds. We had a chance to take the Magellan GPS Car Kit for a test drive, which helped transform the iPhone into a full featured GPS navigation system by simply docking the smartphone and pairing it via Bluetooth. (For the record, it also works with iPod touch.)
We found the built-in GPS receiver did actually increase the GPS signal strength, as promised by Magellan. You could tell by the way the maps on the navigation apps already installed on the phone seemed to load and respond fast. Magellan offers its Magellan RoadMate app for the iPhone, but we simply worked with the GPS-based apps already installed on the phone. It is also compatible with location-aware apps, like Yelp.
Simply sync the device via Bluetooth and it is calling out directions and even fielding incoming phone calls. The clarity in the noise-cancelling speakerphone made for crisp and clear communication. What we like is that the device promotes a distraction-free environment for both working with GPS apps and for taking phone calls.
Mounting to the dash was simple, and the in-cradle charging capabilities pulled double work for charging the iPhone while docked. Overall, this makes for a nice compliment to your iPhone (either 3GS, 4, or 4S) or iPod touch (third or fourth generation). In the world of preventing distracted driving, it essentially helps blend smartphone and PND experience into one.