By Ben Ellison
Magellan Meridian Color GPS
Some salts remember a brick-size Magellan as the first GPS they took to sea; then the company went through changes and almost slipped from sight. Well, Magellan is back, big time. In fact the company has introduced so many interesting handheld GPSs that they’re hard to sort out. (Magellan also recently started a line of fixed plotters.)
The SportTrak and Meridian lines differ somewhat in size and style, particularly in the Meridian’s ability to supplement internal memory with SD cards. The SportTrakPro Marine model sports a high-detail marine base map not shared with its color sibling (which also has an electronic compass), but the only difference between a Meridian Color model and its Marine sister is the screen.
With a download from a $170 CD of MapSend BlueNav Charts, which are derived from Navionics’ new Gold format, my bright and fast trial color unit became the smallest full-detail plotter I’ve ever used. Once you’ve registered the CD to the specific GPS, you can download any chart region in the United States, but only one at a time. In other words, the full-detail charts are inexpensive, but you have to take along a computer if you want to cruise far. The $550 Meridian Color’s user interface is well designed, and the unit seemed exceptionally able to pull in GPS signals in difficult conditions.
Magellan Phone: (800) 669-4477. www.magellangps.com.
This article originally appeared in the August 2003 issue of Power & Motoryacht magazine.