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Magellan SporTrak Pro GPS Review

31st August 2003

 Review by Dave Burrows

  

The SporTrak Pro is one of Magellan's newer range of handheld GPS Receivers.   The SporTrak range are small, rugged, built to last and are for the serious map navigators in mind. 

 

The SporTrak Pro comes standard with 23mb ram which includes a base map of 9mb.  The North America base map includes US Cities, Interstate highways, political boundaries, major waterways and airports. 

 

The European version contains the same information except the UK edition base map has UK Towns/Cities and major roads and motorways.  

 

Like with Garmin, Magellan also offer an extra installable map CD called MapSend.  This allows you to upload and store these maps to the Meridian with greater map detail than provided in the base maps. 

 

Magellan have chosen not to fit the SporTrak Pro with any additional storage solutions, which is a shame, and makes the Meridian range more usable for mapping.

The SporTrak Pro looks and feels rugged, and is considerably smaller than the Meridian range of GPS Recievers.  Magellan say the SporTrak Pro is waterproof, and complies with IEC-529 IPX7 specifications.  The sides of the SporTrak Pro are rubberised and easy to grip, it has a backlit keypad, albeit smaller than the Meridian GPS and a backlit display which caters for large fonts.

 

The Technology

Like many other handheld GPS receivers, the SporTrak Pro can track up to 12 satellites at any one time out of the current constellation, and fully supports WAAS (Wide Area Augmentation System) in the US and EGNOS in Europe.  With current GPS accuracy, the SporTrak Pro will be accurate within 3 meters or better depending on line of sight to the satellites and the amount of strong satellite signals the receiver has. 

 

The SporTrak Pro comes with 9 customisable screens which show

satellite constellation, maps, compass, Bearing/Heading screen, GPS Co-ordinate screen, Track screen, Track details screen, speedometer

The Bearing/Heading screens and Track Screens give information like Bearing, speed, direction and ETA options.  The Meridian comes standard with support for up to 20 routes, 500 waypoints and up to 2000 track points which should be enough for the average walker and supports 12 built-in co-ordinate systems and 76 datums. 

 

Screenshots from the Magellan GPS

 

If you're looking to use the SporTrak Pro for walks and hikes, you will certainly like the Track back feature which is more accurate than Garmin's equivalent system allowing you to accurately track back to each waypoint, which makes it easy if you get lost and need to re-trace your steps.

 

Like many other GPS Receivers, the Meridian also has compass support with Northfinder technology showing you which direction is north no matter where you stand on the earth, it also contains sun rise and sun set times and moon phase for any date/location in the world.

 

Back Cover

The back cover is different compared to the Meridian range as the back cover doesn't actually come apart. 

The battery compartment is now accessed from the bottom of the receiver and has a twist screw loop which you can fix a hand strap to, and to access the battery compartment you need to make around 18 turns of this loop anticlockwise then pull and the battery compartment will come apart.

Like the Meridian range, the SporTrak Pro contains 2xAA batteries which are included in the box. 

Unlike the Meridian GPS, the SporTrak Pro does not come with an external storage (SD) slot.  It does come equipped with 8mb RAM over the Meridian GPS 2mb RAM, which comprised of 2mb being used for the European basemap of roads, waterways, parks, airports and more.  The aditional 6mb gives you greater scope of using MapSend data downloaded to the SporTrak Pro to enhance the detail of the onboard maps.

The PC/Pocket PC connection support on the back I don't particularly like.  You have 4 metal contact plates and a screw thread. 

You then have to match the cable up exactly, and turn the screw head about a dozen times before it fully locks into position.  Although this does give a firm connection, I much prefer Garmin's cable connections over Magellan's. 

You shouldn't have to keep screwing or unscrewing the cable, but when you do it takes a while, where as Garmin's like many plug/sockets are keyed and push straight on giving a tight connection.

The SporTrak Pro will run for approx 15 hours of use on a set of 2xAA Batteries.

 

MapSend & DataSend Maps

MapSend offers detailed street-level maps of the U.S. available in regional files allowing you to download just the maps you need, saving memory while making GPS navigation even easier.


The MapSend® Streets in the US CD-ROM contains highly-detailed maps that can be easily downloaded from your PC to your handheld GPS receiver for a fun and simple way to navigate.

Map details include streets, lakes, rivers, coastlines, parks, hunting and fishing, railways and points of interest for the entire United States. You choose the regions and level of detail to download for maximum memory efficiency.

The data can then be updated or overwritten with new map regions.
 

Create your own waypoints and routes on your PC, edit and download them to your GPS receiver for use on your adventure. Save thousands of routes on your PC for recording your every journey.  Plotting your current position in relation to surrounding landmarks is fun and easy, and your GPS search function will find street addresses and points of interest, quickly and safely guiding you to those locations.

 

MapSend is currently available seven different flavours:-

  • MapSend BlueNav Charts

  • MapSend Streets & Destinations Canada

  • MapSend Streets & Destinations in the US

  • MapSend Streets Europe

  • MapSend Streets in the US

  • MapSend Topo in the US

  • MapSend WorldWide Basemap

Magellan also offer DataSend and DataSend Europe which allow you to create your own personal charts.  The unique DataSendTM Europe software allows you to download your routes and waypoints from your GPS receiver to your PC, to easily record your journeys and edited them for future use on a new adventure. For use with your Magellan SporTrak, GPS 315, GPS 320 or SP24 receiver.

 

Comparing Handhelds

Pitting the SporTrak Map/Pro against the Magellan Meridian GPS and the Garmin GPSMap76S (the SporTrak Map and Pro have the same Quad Helix antenna), on a windowsill which really doesn't pick up much of a signal at all, we found the SporTrak Pro to have slightly less signal compared to the other two receivers.  The antenna within the SporTrak Pro is smaller than the Meridian GPS and this does show. 

 

Garmin GPSMap76S, Magellan SporTrak Pro and Magellan Meridian GPS

 

If size is an issue to you, and you want a GPS receiver to put in the pocket, then the SporTrak Map/Pro will probably win over the Garmin GPSMap76 and Meridian GPS size.

 

Like most of the Magellan range, the SporTrak Map/Pro is no exception and is kitted out for most European countries including language support for English, French, German, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch. 

 

So what are the main differences between the SporTrak Map and SporTrak Pro ?  Apart from the price difference, the only real difference is the amount of memory and base map size.  The SporTrak Map has a 2mb Base map with 6mb free memory where as the SporTrak Pro has a 9mb base map and a whopping 23mb of free memory to be used for MapSend.

 

GPS Hardware TTFF (Time To First Fix)

 

Cold

Test 1

Cold

Test 2

Cold

Test 3

Cold

Test 4

Cold

Test 5

Cold

Test

Average

Warm

Test

Hot

Test

CoPilot CF 1m 22s 1m 8s 56s 1m 17s 54s 1m 07s 52s 16s
Emtac Sleeve/CoPilot 40s 37s 42s 37s 46s 40.4s 10s 9s
Emtac/Socket BT GPS 47s 53s 42s 36s 38s 43.2s 10s 17s
Garmin eTrex 39s 44s 40s 41s 43s 41.4s 8s N/A
Garmin eTrex Summit 38s 41s 45s 39s 42s 41.0s 8s N/A
Garmin eTrex Vista 37s 57s 32s 35s 38s 39.8s 17s N/A
Garmin GPSMap76 42s 34s 23s 56s 32s 37.4s 12s N/A
Garmin GPSMap76S 32s 53s 32s 39s 36s 38.4s 11s N/A
Garmin Geko 101 1m 37s 45s 38s 44s 41s 53s 15s 13
Garmin Geko 201 34s 45s 38s 43s 40s 40s 19s 10
HaiCom 302 CF 50s 33s 1m 25s 36s 1m 25s 57.8s 23s 10s
HaiCom 303 MMF 42s 1m 05 s 41s 1m 02 s 1m 18s 57.6s 36s 3s
Holux GM-210 42s 38s 35s 37s 42s 38.8s 30s 4s
Holux GM-270 54s 1m 07 s 1m 03s 50s 1m 12s 61.2s 39s 4s
Holux GM-270U 46s 49s 42s 1m 01 s 49s 49.4s 35s 3s
Holux GR-230 1m 02s 55s 50s 49s 52s 53.6s 39s 5s
LeadTek 9531 / 9532 29s 37s 39s 41s 43s 37.8s 9s 5s
Magellan Meridian Range of GPS 38s 53s 43s 33s 35s 40.4s 18s 15s
Magellan SporTrak Range of GPS 37s 47s 46s 41s 41s 42.4s 19s 16s
Navman 3000 (ROM 2.0.0) 49s 52s 1m 33s 3m 23s 8m 5s 2m 56s 20s 11s
Navman 3400/3420 (ROM 2.1.2) 1m 33s 2m 30s 1m 32s 52s 1m 17s 1m 32.8s 20s 12s
Navman 3450 (ROM 2.1.2) 57s 50s 1m 09s 48s 1m 0s 56.8s 20s 11s
Navman 4400 53s 1m 03s 1m 19s 54s 53s 1m 00.4s 0s 0s
Pretec Compact CF 1m 28s 2m 47s 57s 45s 1m 2s 1m 23s 1m 16s 12s
Pretec Compact LP CF 3m 48s 5m 32s 4m 59s 1m 53s 4m 02s 4m 04s 52s 33s
Rikaline X5 41s 41s 34s 41s 42s 39.5s 39s 0s
Rikaline X6 34s 60s 44s 48s 57s 48.6s 38s 0s
RoyalTek Onyx 1m 28s 1m 39s 2m 23s 1m 38s 1m 35s 1m 46s 1m 24s 17s
RoyalTek Sapphire RGM 1m 02s 1m 0s 56s 41s 55s 54.8s 37s 10s
RoyalTek RBT-3000 57s 46s 43s 41s 55s 48.4s 30s 9s
RoyalTek RGM-2000 48s 52s 40s 45s 39s 44.8s 33s 7s
SysOnChip BT GPS 48s 77s 66s 67s 51s 61.8s 37s 4s
SysOnChip CF Plus (SIRFXTrac) 40s 30s 33s 38s 39s 36s 30s 0s
TFAC MG30 Mouse 1m17s 1m 26s 1m 38s 1m 36s 2m 11s 1m 37s 34s 4s
TomTom Bluetooth GPS 48s 52s 46s 59s 51s 51.2s 37s 3s

 

Fastest

TTFF

Cold

Tests

Slowest

TTFF

Cold

Tests

Manufacturer

Stated

Times

Warm

TTFF

Tests

Manufacturer

Stated

Times

Hot

TTFF

Tests

Manufacturer

Stated

Times

CoPilot CF 54s 1m 22s Not Stated 52s N/A 16s N/A
Emtac Sleeve/CoPilot 37s 46s Not Stated 10s N/A 9s N/A
Emtac/Socket BlueTooth GPS 36s 53s 1m 20s 10s 45s 6s 10s
Garmin eTrex 39s 44s 45s 8s 15s N/A N/A
Garmin eTrex Summit 38s 45s 45s 8s 15s N/A N/A
Garmin eTrex Vista 32s 57s 45s 12s 15s N/A N/A
Garmin GPSMap76 32s 56s 45s 12s 15s N/A N/A
Garmin GPSMap76S 32s 53s 45s 12s 15s N/A N/A
Garmin Geko 101 38s 1m 37s 45s 15s 15s 13s N/A
Garmin Geko 201 34s 45s 45s 19s 15s 10s N/A
HaiCom 302 CF 33s 1m 25s 48s 23s 38s 10s 8s
HaiCom 303 MMF 41s 1m 18s 48s 36s 38s 3s 8s
Holux GM-210 35s 42s 45s 30s 38s 4s 8s
Holux GM-270 50\s 1m 12s 45s 39s 38s 4s 8s
Holux GM-270U 42s 1m 01s 45s 35s 38s 3s 8s
Holux GR-230 39s 1m 02s 45s 39s 38s 5s 8s
LeadTek 9531 / 9532 29s 43s 48s 9s 38s 5s 8s
Magellan Meridian Range of GPS 33s 53s <2m 18s <1m 15s <15s
Magellan SporTrak Range of GPS 37s 47s <5m 19s <1m 16s <15s
Navman 3000 49s 8m 05s 2m 0s 20s 48s 11s 18s
Navman 3400/3420 (ROM 2.1.2) 52s 2m 30s 2m 0s 20s 48s 12s 18s
Navman 3450 (ROM 2.1.2) 48s 1m 09s 2m 0s 20s 48s 11s 18s
Navman 4400 53s 1m 19s n/a 0s n/a 0s n/a
Pretec Compact CF 45s 2m 47s 1m 0s 1m 16s 45s 12s 8s
Pretec Compact LP CF 1m 53s 5m 32s 2m 10s 52s 45s 33s 20s
Rikaline X5 34s 42s 45s 39s 38s 0s 8s
Rikaline X6 34s 1m 00 s 45s 38s 38s 0s 8s
RoyalTek Onyx 1m 28s 2m 23s 45s 3m 0s 45s 17s 20s
RoyalTek Sapphire 41s 1m 02s 45s 37s 38s 10s 45s
RoyalTek RBT-3000 41s 57s 45s 30s 38s 9s 8
RoyalTek RGM-2000 39s 52s 45s 33s 38s 17s 45s
SysOnChip BT GPS 37s 77s 45s 37s  38s 4s 8s
SysOnChip CF Plus (SIRFXTrac) 30s 40s 45s 30s  38s 0s 8s
TFAC MG30 1m 17s 2m 11s 45s 34s  8s 4s 0.1s
TomTom Bluetooth GPS 48s 59s 45s 37s 38s 3s 8s

 

Connecting the Magellan to a PC or Pocket PC

Magellan ship a PC data cable in all their GPS Receiver boxes so you can connect the Magellan GPS Receiver to a PC which has a DB9 (9 pin Serial) connector.  These are pretty much standard on all computers, except some newer computers tend to favour USB or Firewire over Serial.

 

You can also connect a Magellan GPS Receiver to a PDA like a Pocket PC or Palm PDA.  You can do this by purchasing a cable set from PC-Mobile.  The cable should comprise of two parts, the first part is the cable that screws onto the back of the Magellan like the one below.

 

 

The second part of the cable will have a 3.5mm socket on one end which will connect with the 3.5mm plug (left) and the other end of the cable will have a PDA connector.  This then allows you to use your favourite GPS Receiver on your favourite PDA and utilise a whole host of other mapping products anything from Topographical products like Fugawi, OziExplorer, Memory-Map to Street Routing software like TomTom Navigator, PowerLOC Destinator and you don't then need to purchase a second GPS Receiver if you're primary use going forward will be on the Pocket PC!

 

Summary

The SporTrak Pro is a good GPS Receiver.  The receiver is small, lightweight and has all the standard features that you'd want in a handheld GPS Receiver, the only thing lacking from this receiver is to be able to expand the store space allowing for larger maps to be downloaded with MapSend.  If the amount of space for map data is crucial, then the SporTrak Pro will really be the GPS Receiver for you.  If basemap and free memory for uploading MapSend maps isn't really important to you then a SporTrak Map will be of more use

 

Conclusion

Manufacturers Website

http://www.magellangps.com

Pocket GPS Reviewer

Dave Burrows

Pocket GPS Reviewer Website

Dave Burrows.com

Rating

 

Construction

Useability

Robustness

Overall Rating 93%

How did we achieve these ratings ?

Review Ratings

 

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