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Magellan Premium Car Kit vs. TomTom Car Kit for iPhone:

PND4ME 0 Points
edited November -1 in Smartphone Navigation
Magellan Premium Car Kit vs. TomTom Car Kit for iPhone:

I was fortunate enough to be sent a Magellan Premium Car Kit in advance for review and I already have a TomTom Car Kit for iPhone for some time so I like to offer my initial opinion on both of these iPhone enhancement products.

I was initially stunned by the price of this new Magellan Car Kit at the price of $129.99 since I feel these days with the cost of GPS being as low as $59, why would anyone buy an extra piece of hardware for their iPhone at $130?

I’m sure I’m not the only one that feels this way but I thought about it and found I have already invested well over the $130 Magellan is asking for the Car Kit on individual iPhone accessories such as a DC car charger, Bluetooth hands free car kit, windshield /dash mount, protective case (Skin) cover etc. So why am I so surprised when I see this $130 price? I guess part of it is sticker shock, I purchased each accessory individually and the cost of a DC car charger, or a BT hands free car kit from Costco was not over $100 and I guess that was the difference.

Understanding this concept would make you understand better how HP can charge only $1,000 for a laser printer and justify charging $125 each for the replacement ink cartridge and imaging drum etc. I guess it is the convenience of having something already and sticking with what you have.

So with my iPhone 3GS 32 GB, it is the convenience of having everything in one package, my DC car charger, BT hands free car kit, Windshield/Dash mount, amp out speaker and aux audio out option is not more reasonable than if I was to compare it to a $59 PND because the $59 PND cannot do what an iPhone can and the convenience makes all the difference in the world.

OK, enough with my reasoning as to why I can justify buying a $130 Magellan Car Kit and a $119 TomTom Car Kit, besides being extremely passionate about PND’s, this category excites me because I feel the future is in these Mobile Internet Devices (MID) and not so much so as with these PND’s.

When I opened the attractive retail package Magellan sent me, I was not disappointed with the quality and forethoughts that went into the design of this Magellan Car Kit. I’m not saying TomTom’s Car Kit is inferior but what I do find is the Magellan Car Kit offer much more options and feels much more solid than the TomTom Car Kit.

Don’t get me wrong, they both work, but depending on how much you value your iPhone, a protective skin is almost mandatory yet you are unable to use it with the TomTom Car Kit and it requires you to make the extra effort of removing the protective skin or cover before you can mount it into the TomTom Car Kit. In my book that is more wear on your protective cover by having to remove and reinstall each and every time you wish to use your TomTom Car Kit, and also it’s an accident waiting to happen if and when your iPhone slips out of your hand and land on something that will either dent the case or worst cracked the screen. Why take the unnecessary risk and extra time when you can bypass all the trouble by using the Magellan Car Kit?

I don’t work for Magellan nor am I paid by Magellan, I have been a GPS / PND enthusiast for over 15 years and own just about every model GPS that was made available from Garmin Magellan and TomTom, so I have a fair amount of knowledge as to what works and what don’t.

Each of these products have their limitations and strengths, from what I can see the noticeable difference between the TomTom Car Kit and a Magellan Car Kit is obvious.

1] Price = TomTom Car Kit win at $10 less
2] Flexibility = Magellan Car Kit win hands down with not requiring to remove protective covering when mounting into the Car Kit.
3] Volume/Sound Quality = Magellan wins over TomTom on this one since Magellan’s sound quality have more bass and offer better audio quality than the TomTom
4] Using 3rd party GPS applications = Magellan seems to be easier since it does not require you to download the free TomTom Car Kit tool software. I tried it with different applications such as Navigon software, Motion X etc and the Magellan Car Kit appears to function just fine without doing anything but putting your iPhone in the Car Kit and launching the 3rd party applications.
5] Bluetooth sync = It was not as easy for TomTom since the code for pairing is 5555 and not the more standard 0000 or 1234. Magellan sync easily. Once the BT sync they both work.
6] Microphone sound quality = TomTom Car Kit win on this one, the sound quality on the other end of the call is clearer but the audio portion from the Car Kit speaker is not as clear as the Magellan Car Kit.
7] Mounting options = Both have the option to mount to the windshield or on the dash with a dash mount disc, locking the mounting suction cup have different methods, TomTom uses a twist while Magellan utilized the standard tab lever method.
8] Mounting angle option = Although both suction cup offers tons of flexibility as to mounting angles, once the windshield mount is locked into position, the TomTom offers more angles than the Magellan Car Kit, the Magellan Car Kit offer only 90 degrees and 180 degrees mounting angles while TomTom cradle is adjustable to many different angles after the windshield mount is secured. The concern I have here is how long will the moving parts last. TomTom Car Kit offer more option but seems to me that it may also loosen up over time and vibrate or have premature failures.

Overall, I believe it really depends on what you are expecting as to which iPhone Car Kit may be right for you. I would say if you want a more flexible iPhone mounting Car Kit solution without having to remove your protective cover/case/skin and one with better audio quality then the Magellan Premium Car Kit would be the obvious choice.
If price is a concern, then the TomTom Car Kit for iPhone may be good enough.

For me, I own a lot of different PND make and models and I have both of these iPhone Car Kits and both the Magellan and TomTom GPS applications. I feel these iPhone GPS applications are as good if not better than a standalone PND solution and with the Magellan Premium Car Kit option, it just completes the package.

Disclaimer: I’m not a Magellan or TomTom employee, nor am I paid by the company to write these opinions.

Hope this helps
Happy New Year

PND4ME aka GPS4ME
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Comments

  • The tomtom car kit is 99$ or 119$ ?
  • Tim 1480 Points
    It isn't available anywhere right now:
    TomTom Car Kit Vanishes?
  • Possibly they are redesigning their cradle!
  • Possibly they are redesigning their cradle!
    And increasing the price? TomTom probably realizes not having a unit that works with cases while their competition does is a real detractor.

    Great write-up. I also saw 2 videos on unboxing and in the car testing of the Magellan unit. Looks very nice!

    Couple of questions PND4ME:

    1. So the Magellan will definitely not work on the Otterbox Defender? Other cases are fine as far as you know?

    2. My BMW already has Bluetooth for the iphone. Do I need Bluetooth on the cradle activated to use the speaker for directions or is it also through the plug? I just want the cradle speaker to work when the phone is plugged into it without any affect on my car's bluetooth connection. Will this work?

    Thanks!

    Dave
  • Possibly they are redesigning their cradle!


    And increasing the price? TomTom probably realizes not having a unit that works with cases while their competition does is a real detractor.

    Great write-up. I also saw 2 videos on unboxing and in the car testing of the Magellan unit. Looks very nice!

    Couple of questions PND4ME:

    1. So the Magellan will definitely not work on the Otterbox Defender? Other cases are fine as far as you know?

    2. My BMW already has Bluetooth for the iphone. Do I need Bluetooth on the cradle activated to use the speaker for directions or is it also through the plug? I just want the cradle speaker to work when the phone is plugged into it without any affect on my car's bluetooth connection. Will this work?

    Thanks!

    Dave
    Reply:

    1] It will fit the OUtterBox Defender case just fine, just the receptacle will not make proper contact with the iPhone in the OutterBox defender case.

    2] My SUV is getting service and the loaner they gave me does not include a car bluetooth for me to confirm this.
    I did use the Magellan and TomTom Car kit BT and the audio sound is good enough, not as good as it was comming out of the radio speaker, but better than using the iPhone speaker. You have to manual sync the BT so I would think if you just don't sync or select the Car Kit BT, you should be able to use the car BT and listen to the turn by turn directions through the Car Kit.

    Hope this helps
  • I will be trying the car kit soon, so I will let you know.

    Still bummed about the Otterbox case issues! :cry:
  • The tomtom car kit is 99$ or 119$ ?
    I'm doing a little work with TomTom and can help answer this for you. The TomTom car kit for the iPhone is priced at $119 and TomTom will soon be releasing a car kit for the iPod Touch which will retail at $99. The iPod Touch car kit will have different dimensions and will not include a built-in microphone . Both the TomTom iPhone and iPod Touch car kits have an internal GPS chip which helps to enhance reception.
  • The tomtom car kit is 99$ or 119$ ?


    I'm doing a little work with TomTom and can help answer this for you. The TomTom car kit for the iPhone is priced at $119 and TomTom will soon be releasing a car kit for the iPod Touch which will retail at $99. The iPod Touch car kit will have different dimensions and will not include a built-in microphone . Both the TomTom iPhone and iPod Touch car kits have an internal GPS chip which helps to enhance reception.
    Thank you for you reply.
    The microphone in itself is 20$ ;-). Not a so bad idea for someone who don't need it.
    Do you know if the rumor about tomtom redesigning the car kit is true?
  • Guys, FYI: Magellan Premium Car Kit will be available for official sale tomorrow. Get yours today. I was informed from my manager that all of the first batch has already been sold and only a few available left for the second batch.
  • very informative article about our car kit: check it out.! http://bit.ly/8odMB5
  • hi,

    thanks for the informative review! i'd like to know one thing that is not mentioned though: exactly what type of gps chip do the two car kits have? does anyone have this info?
  • gatorguy 326 Points
    IIRC, TomTom uses a sirf III. That chipset is still very capable but getting a little long in the tooth. I think Maggie's is using the same.

    The question of "whose chipset" is much less important and revealing than it was a couple years ago. Nearly all the current chips used on various devices are pretty comparable anymore.
  • Tim 1480 Points
    IIRC, TomTom uses a sirf III.
    Correct. I'd rip open the Magellan kit to see what it is using, but I like it too much and don't want to break it. ;)
  • PND4ME 0 Points
    IIRC, TomTom uses a sirf III.

    Correct. I'd rip open the Magellan kit to see what it is using, but I like it too much and don't want to break it. ;)
    just answer it like Garmin. It is a high sensitivity GPS receiver. With that said they can but what ever GPS receiver that is available. Lol
  • This is quite an obvious question I'd think but not directly addressed so I thought I'd ask it.

    Is the Magellan car kit compatible with the TomTom application? E.g. Is the TomTom Application able to utilise the embedded GPS chip in the Magellan Car Kit?
  • Tim 1480 Points
    Yes.
  • PND4ME 0 Points
    This is quite an obvious question I'd think but not directly addressed so I thought I'd ask it.

    Is the Magellan car kit compatible with the TomTom application? E.g. Is the TomTom Application able to utilise the embedded GPS chip in the Magellan Car Kit?
    The Magellan car kit works with Navigon, TomTom, MotionX, Mageallan etc.
    The GPS receiver makes the reception that much better when connected to the Magellan Car Kit.
  • maggie.nav 0 Points
    edited January 2010
    IIRC, TomTom uses a sirf III.

    Correct. I'd rip open the Magellan kit to see what it is using, but I like it too much and don't want to break it. ;)
    I am very happy you like it. yay! :D
  • The Magellan PCK will work with all other applications that has on-board maps. Ie: TomTom, Magellan, Navigon.
  • The GPS receiver makes the reception that much better when connected to the Magellan Car Kit.
    How much? ... when i run GPSinfo or MotionX GPS on my 3GS iPhone and compare to my TomTom car kit, i see an improvement from 17m (or 56ft) to 15m (or 49ft) while moving ... maybe there's an improvement in 'lock', but i wouldn't call this improvement on accuracy 'much' better ...

    Is the Magellan car kit more accurate?

    btw, nice forum!
  • Tim 1480 Points
    Speaking generally about the various car kit devices, the iPhone 3G and 3Gs work "okay" most of the time... good enough to find your location on a road. Where they don't perform as well as traditional GPS is with acquisition speed, tracking your position outside of cellular range, and near tall buildings or other places where the sky view is obstructed.

    In other words, most of the time the iPhone doesn't need supplemental GPS... but some of the time it totally freaks out. For me that happens for about one minute out of each hour. This, and the situations outlined above, are where the car kits shine.

    So while the accuracy might not improve much, the reliability should (and does).
  • PND4ME 0 Points
    The GPS receiver makes the reception that much better when connected to the Magellan Car Kit.


    How much? ... when i run GPSinfo or MotionX GPS on my 3GS iPhone and compare to my TomTom car kit, i see an improvement from 17m (or 56ft) to 15m (or 49ft) while moving ... maybe there's an improvement in 'lock', but i wouldn't call this improvement on accuracy 'much' better ...

    Is the Magellan car kit more accurate?

    btw, nice forum!
    You will find in marginal GPS reception locations such as in cities with tall buildings, heavily wooded area, the MPK and or TTCK will lock you on to GPS signal better than without the car kits.
    When you have a clear view of the sky, the improvment maybe better by only one or two bars if you are testing it with the MotionX GPS signal reception feature.

    About 80% through this YouTube video, you will see this guy performs a GPS test.

    I own both the TomTom and Magellan Car Kit and I also have the TomTom, Magellan, Navigon, MotionX GPS software and my test results are simular using my 3GS iPhone with 32 GB.
  • Tim, PND4ME - thanks for the quick responses ... the stronger fix does make sense, but i'm really interested in "accuracy" which is now avail in MotionX GPS versus just looking at signal bars like the video. again, a stronger fix is a plus - but it's still 49ft in diameter (or radius!?) ...

    here's another example, i just stepped outside w/ my wife's Nuvi (near urban Seattle - trees, houses, hills) and w/in a minute, it had secured a 10ft 'accuracy' fix on the satellite page ... 3 meters ... and our car mounts are getting 15m at best

    i guess my real question is why wouldn't the car kits get to that level of accuracy of a similarly priced (mount + app), dedicated GPS device? ... can I assume they're using older, lower quality/cost GPS chips?
  • Tim 1480 Points
    guess my real question is why wouldn't the car kits get to that level of accuracy of a similarly priced (mount + app), dedicated GPS device?
    They do. In fact as we showed with the TomTom Car Kit they are using the same GPS chipset (SiRFstarIII) as used in many (perhaps most) GPS devices over the past few years.

    Those "accuracy" readings are almost meaningless. Manufacturers can tune the number to show just about whatever they would like. They can be as optimistic or pessimistic as they would like, and then just bump the number up or down based on the estimated quality of the GPS signal.

    So one device (or application) that is conservatively reporting a 20 foot accuracy might actually be consistently calculating a more accurate location than another device that is too optimistically reporting a 10 foot accuracy. So you can't compare the estimated accuracy of one device or application against another as they won't use the same criteria for their estimation.

    The only way to actually calculate "real" accuracy would be to go to a place with precisely known coordinates and compare to the coordinates the GPS displays. There are few places with known coordinates of that accuracy.

    As an example, I was told a few years ago (I don't know for certain if it was true then or if it is still true) that the Nuvi models are "tuned" to have their estimated accuracy right only 50% of the time. For example if your Nuvi shows an estimated accuracy of 10 feet.... 50% of the time that will be true and the other 50% of the time the actual accuracy will be some amount more than 10 feet off.

    Other consumer devices are tuned to be less optimistic with their estimated accuracy, striving to have their estimated accuracy being "right" 80% of the time. Devices aimed for scientific purposes often show estimated accuracy with 95% confidence.
  • thanks Tim, i appreciate the add'l context - that is vry helpful
  • Thanks Tim,
    That was very informative for me :-)
  • Tim 1480 Points
    A brief story related to this conversation. At one time a GPS company (to be nameless right now) was getting flack from users that their GPS wasn't as accurate as their competitors. They figured users were just looking at their estimated accuracy compared to their competitors. So they ran some tests.

    They took a few locations that were surveyed to a very high precision. They measured the actual accuracy as compared to what the GPS was conservatively displayed as the estimated accuracy. They realized they were being too conservative with their estimate, so they changed how the estimate was calculated to show a more aggressive value. They released the change in a firmware update.

    For the next month, forums were flooded with messages from people saying that the firmware update made their GPS "twice as accurate!". But nothing was changed with regards to actual accuracy... just what they were displaying for the estimated accuracy field.

    So the GPS was no more accurate, but their users certainly thought so! The Placebo Effect at work. :) The aggressiveness of the number is often driven by the marketing department.
  • i guess the iPhone mount marketing team didn't get the "memo" :roll:

    vry helpful, thx
  • PND4ME 0 Points
    i guess the iPhone mount marketing team didn't get the "memo" :roll:

    vry helpful, thx
    It's too funny that if they are more honest, they are looked at as a inferior GPS manufacturer.

    Damn if they do, damn if they don't.
  • Tim 1480 Points
    I'd love to see the GPS manufacturers just take out the "estimated accuracy" field on consumer GPS devices and replace it with a field that simply called "confidence" with values of weak, good, or high. Although that could be "tweaked" as well, it would at least more accurately represent the "estimate".
  • gatorguy 326 Points
    Ideally an independent group should have been certifying GPS-enabled devices years ago. Everyone would be on a level playing field and we'd have (generally) accurate comparative information on not only specific pnd/mobile/handheld devices, but chipsets in general. Even antenna designs, sometimes just as important, could be added to the reports. As it is, who do you think will be the first to drop their method of reporting location accuracy: TomTom, Garmin or Magellan.
  • PND4ME 0 Points
    I'd love to see the GPS manufacturers just take out the "estimated accuracy" field on consumer GPS devices and replace it with a field that simply called "confidence" with values of weak, good, or high. Although that could be "tweaked" as well, it would at least more accurately represent the "estimate".
    Tim

    Problem with any GPS information display is up to the interpretation of the people that are interpreting it. I think the good enough theory maybe enough since accuracy is more important on a surveying GPS equipment and not so much so in a vehicle. I will pass your suggestion on. We use to be able to view the SNR of each satellites and see which satellite is coming in with the best SNR reading, but that feature was also eliminated. The KISS system, keep it simple and stupid for most I guess.
  • PND4ME 0 Points
    Ideally an independent group should have been certifying GPS-enabled devices years ago. Everyone would be on a level playing field and we'd have (generally) accurate comparative information on not only specific pnd/mobile/handheld devices, but chipsets in general. Even antenna designs, sometimes just as important, could be added to the reports. As it is, who do you think will be the first to drop their method of reporting location accuracy: TomTom, Garmin or Magellan.
    I believe there is more to it than that. If you can get a hold of a Magellan Maestro 4350/4370 and watch the blue dot compares to where your vehicle icon is, you will find it could be way off. The map matching software makes the accuracy much better by placing the vehicle on the street where they believe you should be instead of yards or meters away on the field or going through buildings where the blue do is on. The map matching takes up the GPS error at times. There is so much more to this that just GPS accuracy.
  • Tim 1480 Points
    ahhhhh, the days of trying to decipher SNR data. I remember those days. :)
  • If you can get a hold of a Magellan Maestro 4350/4370 and watch the blue dot compares to where your vehicle icon is, you will find it could be way off. The map matching software makes the accuracy much better by placing the vehicle on the street where they believe you should be instead of yards or meters away on the field or going through buildings where the blue do is on.
    ... kinda reminds me of Google Maps (oops, did i just say it?!?) if you zoom all the way in and watch the blue dot wonder around the street, buildings, parks, etc (at least on my 3G) ... not sure it's utilizing snap to street, but i sure hope Map Nav is ... but i guess that's for another thread :)
  • PND4ME 0 Points
    I had limited time to show most features, thought we can only post 4 minutes being a newbie.

    Anyway, here it is and hope you enjoy it.





    Anyone wishes to see certain feature review, please feel free to comment and I will try my best on my free time to post the results.
  • Thanks for the video PND4ME. Very nice. When you have a chance would you compare the Aux Out of the two devices? ... i've heard that the Magellan continues to play music out the mount speaker during Aux Out & that call audio doesn't go thru the Aux Out ... and I'm not 100% sure how TT mount handles Aux Out since I don't have Aux In in current vehicle but will in next. Thx!
  • Thanks for the video PND4ME. Very nice. When you have a chance would you compare the Aux Out of the two devices? ... i've heard that the Magellan continues to play music out the mount speaker during Aux Out & that call audio doesn't go thru the Aux Out ... and I'm not 100% sure how TT mount handles Aux Out since I don't have Aux In in current vehicle but will in next. Thx!
    Navxguy,

    The Magellan Car Kit will continue to act as an additional speaker when the aux is connected. TomToms will not. Both Magellan and TomTom does not play call audio to the aux.
  • Thanks Maggie (again!) ... I was looking for a thorough review of how the two mount's AuxOut worked ... side-by-side compare for music, guidance, phone, speaker, etc ... from someone that had both.

    btw, my BBY gift card is still burning a hole in my pocket. :)
  • Quick question for Maggie.Nav on the Magellan car kit:

    I have a BMW with Bluetooth that I use for phone calls on my Iphone. Can I use the car kit to boost the GPS signal and hear directions on the speaker and use the car for phone calls? I assume I would just not have to have the phone recognize the car kit for bluetooth?
  • Tim 1480 Points
    Correct.
  • Thanks Tim.

    I will hopefully go to Best Buy this weekend to see and buy it.
  • Thanks Tim.

    I will hopefully go to Best Buy this weekend to see and buy it.
    Seems that the car kit won't be on sale at Best Buy before mi-february
  • Tim 1480 Points
    I will hopefully go to Best Buy this weekend to see and buy it.
    Where in NH are you?
  • I will hopefully go to Best Buy this weekend to see and buy it.

    Where in NH are you?
    Close to Manchester
  • PND4ME 0 Points
    Thanks Tim.

    I will hopefully go to Best Buy this weekend to see and buy it.


    Seems that the car kit won't be on sale at Best Buy before mi-february
    You can secure the Magellan Premium car kit from www.Magellangps.com direct or www.Amazon.com or www.AutoNavdirect.com. All the prices are the same, $129.99 and free shipping in the U.S.

    Currently, these are the ONLY three locations that will offer this car kit.
    BestBuy will have it in Mid Feb if you wish to buy from BestBuy.

    Good luck
  • Tim 1480 Points
    Close to Manchester
    I'll be there about a week from now for about a week and a half if you want to check out mine.
  • Thanks Tim.

    I will hopefully go to Best Buy this weekend to see and buy it.
    Madurodave,

    BB is awesome and all...but why not Amazon? Free shipping and no Tax! :D
  • maggie.nav 0 Points
    edited January 2010
    Copy and paste of my post from another forum: Informative info for users who have purchased the Magellan Premium Car Kit or still shopping:

    Below I have included a quick list why the Magellan Car Kit is still the #1 value and car kit to have:


    1.) Ranked by Amazon as Top GPS accessory of 2009.
    2.) Fits most cases and skins.
    3.) Fits and works with iPhone & iPod.
    4.) Bluetooth works wirelessly and can pair with another device not only iPhone.
    5.) Easily rotates from portrait to landscape mode.

    These features are only exclusive to us and blows are competitors away. With our competitor you will have to remove your case, buy a 2nd car kit for your iPhone or iPod, dock your iPhone in order for bluetooth to work and fiddle with the kit to get it looking right on your car dash.

    Please let me know if you have any questions. I would love to answer any questions you may have.

    There are currently some Youtube users review you can check out for reference also.

    Thank you for your business and support. At Magellan, we are striving to provide the best quality of service and product to our users.
  • PND4ME 0 Points
    Thanks Tim.

    I will hopefully go to Best Buy this weekend to see and buy it.


    Madurodave,

    BB is awesome and all...but why not Amazon? Free shipping and no Tax! :D
    MaggieNav: BB and Amazon is awesome and all...but why not Autonavdirect? Free shipping and no Tax plus supporting local small business that offer the same pricing and better service? :D
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