Magellan Maestro GPS 3100 Review

Magellan Maestro GPS 3100 Review
The Magellan Maestro 3100 GPS system is Magellan's budget friendly GPS unit in the Maestro family at an MSRP of $299.99. It is in essence a stripped down version of the Maestro 4040 aimed at the entry-level GPS user.

What's Included
In the box you'll find the Magellan Maestro 3100 GPS unit, windshield mount, car charger, wall charger (rare but nice addition), maps of the continental US, and application software. The unit itself is very portable, it weighs only 6.5 ounces (the iPhone in comparison weighs about 4.8 ounces) and 3.5-inch diagonal QVGA full-color, anti-glare, touch-screen display.

The First Steps
One of the most impressive aspects of this GPS is how fast it acquires a signal. By the time you bypass the Warning screen your GPS is already rocking and rolling. Even the Mio Digiwalker C310x, one of our favorite budget GPS systems, takes well a while to acquire a signal on a good day.

The first thing you'll notice is how beautiful the screen is on the Magellan Maestro 3100 GPS. The screen is bright and very colorful, helped perhaps by a slick looking user interface that is both simply and easy to use. There are three main buttons on the main screen: Show Map, Enter Address, and Points of Interest (POI). There is also an arrow to point you to the secondary GPS functionality such as a Trip Planner, Exit Points of Interests and User Options.

In general, the user interface for this device is welcoming and the information extremely easy to read. To enter an address for example the Magellan Maestro 3100 gives you three options Enter a City, Enter a Zip Code or Select a Previous City. As you type the address letters that will not be needed disappear. So for instance, if you wanted to San Francisco, as you type San Franc, letters other than "i-s-c-o" disappear. The one drawback to this system is that, say you enter the street 11th (11th Street) if will give you every variation of 11th without allowing you to narrow down your search (11th Avenue, 11th Place... etc...) so you are forced to scroll through about 2 screens of results.

The Maps and Points of Interest
The biggest blunder here for this GPS is the lack of POIs, featuring only 750,000 a lot of businesses were missing completely. We were really disappointed when we were parked directly in front of a blockbuster that has been in business in our neighborhood for over 10 years, typed in Blockbuster, POIs within current location and received NO results. We expanded the results to over 100 miles and there were still no Blockbusters to be found.

The map on the other hand was good. We took a weekend drive to Southwest Florida where there is a lot of new construction going on and all the streets were correctly labeled and displayed. There was however one big issue: The city (or town I suppose) of Matlacha, Florida was not found in the database of this device. It is really a shame that the database in the Magellan Maestro 3100 GPS could be so incomplete.

The actual map software on the other hand was nice. The display shows you the map, the direction of the next turn and how far it is, the speed you are traveling at (very accurate), the name of the upcoming turn, the street you are traveling on, the direction you are headed, volume controls, and zoom controls. One really cool feature in the Magellan Maestro 3100 GPS is what Magellan calls TrueView -- it is a pop-up visual of the upcoming turn. On one side it shows you an arrow of where your turn will go and on the other side it shows an overhead map. The TrueView is activated about 500 feet before your turn and then goes away at about 300 feet. In addition, the names of all the streets surrounding your route are really easy to read on the map.

Another major issue was that the device does not allow you to find POIs as you are driving. Meaning, if you wanted to search for a Best Buy mid route, the device will NOT allow you to do a search. You are forced to cancel your route before you can do any search. This is extremely frustrating as sometimes you need to alter your course as you are driving. Not all is lost in the world of POI in this GPS though. One feature we really liked in Magellan Maestro 3100 GPS is the "Exit POI" feature. This feature allows you to see what Points of Interest are available near the upcoming express way exit. If you are looking for gas this is an easy way to see if there is anything coming up.

Loading Times
One last key problem we found with the Magellan Maestro 3100 were the loading times. Calculating routes, even small ones, took a very long time. In addition, when routes are recalculated it takes longer than similar GPSs in the market at the same price range.

The Bottom Line
The Magellan Maestro 3100 GPS unit has a beautiful bright screen and the display resolution is one of the nicest we've seen. The user-interface is also one of the most consumer friendly on the market and that that makes this a GPS for entry-level consumers. However, the system has an incomplete POI database and very limited POI functionality as you drive. In addition the Magellan Maestro 3100 takes a signficant amount of time calculating routes which can be annoying at times. If you want to get to where you want to go, this GPS will do the job, however, if you want a more complete GPS experience, the Magellan Maestro 3100 falls short.

- Beautiful screen
- Easy to use interface
- Fast Signal acquisition
- Recalculates route

- Outdated POI database
- Lacking some basic features
- Slow calculations
- No POI function while driving
- Small battery life (3 hours on lowest screen brightness)

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