Magellan Meridian Platinum
have recently reviewed the new Magellan
Meridian Platinum from the perspective of how I use GPS in the field and the
features that I like to have available. I will be comparing the use of the Meridian
Platinum to Garmin's GPSMap76, which is closely
matched in price and functionality.
and Menu structure
I found the Magellan menu structure to be well laid
out and easy to follow, making it a snap to setup the unit to my liking. I also
found the Magellan text screens easier to read than the Garmins because of the
fonts used. The menu logic is very similar to the Garmin's 76 series however the
Magellan has added online help tips right in the GPS unit, which is a great idea
for those of us who need a little help now and then.
keypad on the bottom of the Magellan is well spaced and easy to operate. I liked
the fact that the buttons are below the screen opposed to above as on most Garmins.
I did however get a bit of a thumb cramp after a lot of keystrokes, which required
me to hold the unit in one hand while operating it with the other. Having the
buttons below or above the screen is really a matter of personal preference and
The size and weight of the Magellan unit is comparable to the Garmin, however
the Magellan is easier to hold onto due to the rubberized/ridged wrap around bumper,
especially when wearing bulky gloves. The Magellan lacks a lanyard attachment
so being able to hang onto it becomes even more important.
The Magellan screen resolution is slightly lower than the Garmin
Map 76, but again the fonts used made it easy to read the data displayed on all
the text-based screens. I did find the map screen to be somewhat cluttered when
zoomed out in an urban areas, however it was easier to read once I figured out
how to shut off most of the database waypoints. Due to screen resolution I also
found it a bit difficult to differentiate between the various lines shown on the
compass pointer screen. I use the map screen and the compass pointer screens all
the time during navigation, and find Gamin's view of these two screens easier
The standard Base Mapping that comes preloaded into the Magellan unit
is somewhat skeletal, however Magellan's
Mapsend Canada CD, which can be uploaded to the unit, is very detailed. Finally
a US based GPS producer has anted up for more detailed Canadian map content. Magellan's
MapSend Canada CD has excellent detail in many urban areas (even small towns)
showing individual streets with names, I also liked how the road name text label
aligns (vertically or horizontally) with the road lines on the map, making it
even easier to read.
With this kind of map detail it's too bad that Magellan hasn't packaged the Meridian
unit with auto routing software that would allow the unit to calculate turn-by-turn
directions like in the Magellan's 750 series found in some rental cars fleets,
who know maybe it's coming. In comparison Garmin's
Canada Enhanced Base Map shows only the main arteries in most cities.
MapSend Streets & Destinations Canada (Banff Alberta)
MapSource: Enhanced BaseMap (Banff Alberta)
Spectrum Digital Imaging (SDI) Topo Map viewed
in Ozi Explorer (Banff Alberta)
trips through the backcountry Magellan's MapSend and Gamin's Canada Enhanced Base
are comparable at showing those roads typically traveled by car, RV, or pickup.
However in addition to these local roads Magellan's MapSend data also shows many
4 X 4 trails (typically shown as dashed black lines on a 1:50:000 Topo maps).
It appears that while Magellan has tried to show these trails they do not show
linear features such as hydro lines, pipelines, cut lines etc. The additional
roads/trails shown on the MapSend base map will be useful to anyone venturing
further off the beaten path, such as hikers, mountain bikers, ATV riders, hunters
a cautionary note, while you can see the different types of roads when viewing
the MapSend maps on your PC, I have found (with limited field-testing) that it
is difficult to differentiate between the local roads and the 4 X 4 trails on
the Meridian's map display because (at this zoom level) the same line style is
used for both. There may be a way to adjust the line styles on the Meridians Map
setup but I haven't found it yet. To address this, users could easily plot a few
waypoints in MapSend and upload them to the GPS to assist with field navigation.
Also for those of you that carry Topo maps it's very easy to correlate your GPS
display to the roads and trails show on the maps.
When it comes to the tracking I was disappointed with the limited
tracking functionality currently available on the Meridian. Basically it has one
active track and no stored tracks, compared to Garmin's active track plus 10 stored
tracks. In addition the Meridian's track interval can only be set to distance
rather than time or distance as on the Garmin units.
of all the Meridian annoyingly connects intermittent tracks together by drawing
a straight line between the tracked segments in the event of the tracking (or
the GPS) being turned off and then turned back on several minutes or kilometers
later. Earlier Garmin models did this as well, but newer units treat these breaks
(deliberate or accidental) as separate non-connected track segments, making it
easy to track different trails if so desired.
have read several articles commenting on the benefits of how the Meridian uses
every single track point when you activate a Trackback. While this sounds great,
in real world you don't always have continuous GPS tracking, nor do you always
want to immediately turn around and follow you track back out. Unfortunately with
the Meridian you have two choices: either immediately follow your detailed Trackback
back to where you started (works great if you do exactly that), or save the Trackback
to a route with maximum of 30 waypoints (this could easily blow away important
track details). Also in the case of intermittent tracking the Magellan would send
you off on the straight-line tangent between those segments you had actually tracked.
give a better example let's say that you hiked into an area and then wanted to
save that day's track before setting up camp for the night. On newer Garmin units
you would select save track to file which would then prompt you to choose whether
you wanted to save the entire track or just the portion since the tracking was
last turned on or restarted. In either case the Garmin would then reduce your
active track to a stored track with a maximum of 250 points, which you could name
and save for either visual reference or actual GPS navigation. If you repeated
this process for next few day hikes around your campsite you could build a detailed
map of all your hikes and be able to see all of them simultaneously on your GPS
map screen. Also any one of these individual saved tracks could be navigated (in
either direction) regardless of where you are on the ground. This is a great way
to become familiar with a new area and learn how the trails interconnect.
disappointment with the Meridian's tracking capabilities is based on the fact
that I use stored tracks all the time when using GPS for both (pipeline routing)
work and for recreational pursuits. For example when going fishing in a new area
I often use Ozi Explorer and SDI
Topo maps to quickly digitize a desired hike, a creek centerline, or a lake
perimeter, and then load these as stored tracks into my GPS. With these tracks
displayed on the GPS map screen I can see the river or lake as I travel down a
logging road or hike a trail, and easily find the quickest access hence more fishing
time. In addition this leaves my active track capacity available for tracking
new trails I encounter along the way, which I download and save at the end of
not everybody uses tracking to the extent I do, but I feel it is one of the most
useful GPS features, and it's far easier to save one complex track than it is
to create several complex routes. While the saved track function is not available
with the current Meridian software, there is talk of a future software upgrade
from Magellan that would allows you to save entire tracks to the data card which
would greatly enhance the Meridian's tracking functionality*. I haven't had the
opportunity to fully test the many other functions of the Meridian, such as the
digital compass, barometer, vertical profile etc., but as far as accuracy and
all basic navigation functions go the Meridian works just great. That's all I
have for now . I hope it helpful!
Platinum Version 3.12 Software Update includes this capbility (Available from