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Magellan Meridian GPS Review

04th May 2003

 Review by Dave Burrows


The Meridian GPS is one of Magellan's newer range of handheld GPS Receivers.   The Meridian range are very rugged, built to last and are for the serious navigators in mind.  I have large fingers, and one thing I find with the Garmin receivers is that sometimes my fingers are a little too large, the Meridian GPS, not only from a size proportion, but it's buttons are better laid out and easier to press. 


The Meridian GPS is also Magellan's most affordable GPS Receiver on the Meridian range, and it doesn't sacrifice anything!


The Meridian GPS comes standard with 2mb ram which includes a base map.  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.  The Meridian range comes standard with an SD slot allowing you to use an 8mb, 16mb, 32mb or 64mb SD card.  In fact, the only thing limiting the storage capability is the size of the storage card that can be purchased.  Currently 512mb SD cards are available which could be used, giving you more than enough storage space!  The SD slot is located inside the battery compartment, and you do need to remove the batteries to get to the SD card slot.  The SD memory card is optional and can be purchased from any computer store, or direct from Magellan or a Magellan authorised reseller although the Magellan store currently only ships up to 64mb cards.


The Meridian looks and feels rugged, and reminds me of a dingy.  Magellan do say the Meridian is waterproof, I can see it certainly being splash proof, but there seems to be a little bit of play on the back battery compartment when closed and locked, so I wouldn't really want to submerse this unless I had to.  It's sides are rounded and rubberised and easy to grip, it has a large backlit keypad and a very large backlit display which caters for large fonts.


The Technology

Like many other handheld GPS receivers, the Meridian GPS 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 Meridian 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 Meridian GSP comes with 8 rich screens and 7 of which are fully customisable which show satellite constellation, maps, compass,

Bearing/Heading screen, GPS Co-ordinate screen, Track screen,

Track details screen, and 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 Meridian GPS 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 locked into position with two slider bars.  Locked to the right and open to the left. 

Once removed you'll find the battery compartment which contains 2xAA batteries which are included in the box.  Remove both of the batteries and the small indent you see above the top battery, contains the SD card slot.  Once batteries are removed you can insert or eject the SD card.

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 Meridian GPS 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 Magellan Meridian GPS against the Magellan SporTrak Map and the Garmin GPSMap76S, on a windowsill which really doesn't pick up much of a signal at all, it's good to see the antenna included within the Meridian is powerful enough to match it equally amongst all three receivers.  In-fact, on several occasions I've received a stronger signal by 1-2 sats more than the SporTrak Map!


Garmin GPSMap76S, Magellan SporTrak Map and Magellan Meridian GPS


One thing that makes the Meridian GPS stand out is how rugged it is.  It looks large here, but it really does fit in the hand nicely and contains rubber armour, impact resistant plastic allowing you to take the Meridian on any outing and not having to worry about it being damaged and is waterproof sealed to IEC-529 IPX7 specifications.  The Meridian is also kitted out for most European countries including language support for English, French, German, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese and Dutch. 


All the Meridian's seem alike, what are the major differences between them ?



Meridian GPS


Meridian Colour


Meridian Gold


Meridian Marine


Meridian Platinum

Basemap 2mb cities/highways 16mb cities/highways 16mb cities/highways 16mb cities/highways 16mb cities/highways
Colour Display ? Grayscale Colour Grayscale Grayscale Grayscale
Barometric Altimeter No No No No Yes


The main differences between the Magellan range of GPS Receivers are shown above.  If you would like to see full comparisons, please take a look at our Handheld Comparison Review.


GPS Hardware TTFF (Time To First Fix)



Test 1


Test 2


Test 3


Test 4


Test 5








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

























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!



The Magellan Meridian GPS is a great GPS Receiver, and one I'm having trouble putting down.  The receiver has all the standard features that you'd want in a handheld GPS Receiver, it fits into the hand neatly and you just feel at home with it. 



Manufacturers Website


Pocket GPS Reviewer

Dave Burrows

Pocket GPS Reviewer Website

Dave Burrows.com






Overall Rating 96%

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