GPS Nuts

Ron Wilson and Andrew Kalinowski

As of May 02, 2000 Selective Availability (SA) has been discontinued.  

We have not had a chance to update all of the articles, so please simply disregard any mention of it, but be aware that other sources of error still exist.


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Magellan Map 410 Review

I.    Introduction.

In early 1999, Magellan introduced to the market the Map 410. To that point, all Magellan mapping GPS receivers required cartridges in order to display detailed maps. The Map 410 can be uploaded with maps from an optional CD-Rom. This particular capability is not really new to the GPS users, however, the Map 410 sports features that may be of interest to the potential users. Even though, in this review we will try to concentrate on the features that make the Map 410 different from other receivers in it's class, we will not be passing judgment as to which receiver is "the best" for any particular application. In fact, in order to be as fair as possible, we decided not to use other mapping receivers during the evaluation period. That allowed us to get used to the key and screen layout and to the menu navigation structure.

II.    Overview

The Magellan Map 410 came packaged in a box containing the receiver itself, users manual, a set of 4 AA batteries, lanyard and a black, soft lined, belt pouch. The software / firmware version loaded was 1.05 which was the same as the latest version available for download from the Magellan's website. 

The receiver itself is slightly tapered in shape and we found its maximum dimensions (with antenna being flash with the unit) to be 180 X 64 X 34 millimeters (7.1"x2.5"x1.3").  Including the batteries, it tipped the kitchen scale at 360 grams (12 1/2 ounces). 

The back portion of the unit as well as the face are lined with rubber. The battery compartment is accessible from the bottom. In fact, there are two tubular battery compartments that are closed by very solid, screw in plugs. The plugs are attached to the unit by a rubber molding that also acts as a seal. In the lower back of the receiver, there is a 5 pin socket that allows you to connect a power / data cable. The connector is protected by a rather flimsy rubber cup. Still, the general feeling is that of a rugged, solid piece of hardware.

III. Antenna.

The unit features a helix antenna. For the best reception, the antenna should be rotated so it points towards the sky. During testing, we found that in most cases the antenna could be left flush with the unit without perceivable signal degradation. The antenna position made a big difference when trying to use the receiver inside of a house. Not having had a chance to use the receiver under the heavy foliage (it's spring here), we can only assume that it would make a similar difference when used in the forest.

  In order to use a different external antenna, the units  standard antenna can be easily removed (simple, bayonet lock) from the connector.  With the unit turned ON, we measured 4.9V at the antenna connector, so amplified antennas can be used directly. 

IV. Display screen.

 The Map 410's screen deserves a special note. The 240 x 120 pixels on 2.5 X 1.25 (96 DPI) screen, in 4 shades ("white", gray, dark gray, black) provide the user with a very sharp display. 

The screen shots included in this review were taken with a flatbed scanner and a camcorder and converted to bitmaps using SNAPPY, so they do not reflect the real quality of the 410's display.


 The screen and the keys are back lighted. The light intensity has two settings easily changed by pressing the power key.    


V.    Initialization and start-up.

In order to be initialized, the unit requires the user to make a few simple selections concerning the location and type of use. If the land use is selected, waypoints are called "Landmarks" and on the map screen, water bodies are gray filled. If the marine use is selected, waypoints are called... "waypoints" (what else?) and the gray fill is used for land. Changing between land and marine mode requires re-initializing the unit which may appear to be troublesome, but in reality it's not much of a hassle. Since the unit "remembers" its last position, the re-initialization consists of pressing the enter key a few times (thus accepting the last position) and just changing the primary usage.

When the 410 was initialized for the first time with only a province selected for the location, it took just over a minute to acquire the satellite lock. After that, whether initialized or simply turned on, the unit locks on within seconds, so usually by the time a navigational screen is displayed, the unit is usually, already locked on.


VI. Accuracy. 

 The Map 410 has a barometric pressure sensor, which is used to aid the receiver in more accurate elevation calculations. The unit can also be set into 2D mode (by manually setting the elevation value). More accurate elevation input should aid in more accurate horizontal position readings, however, most of the time, readings from different receivers were under 10 meters.  Such difference can be considered negligible in the presence of SA and without the aid of DGPS.  Still; Out of 100 separate readings, the Map 410 was more accurate most of the time and only in 12 instances it was less accurate.

Just 100 readings may be not sufficient to draw a definite conclusion about the horizontal accuracy improvement, however, there is a definite improvement in the accuracy of the altitude reported.  

After turning the unit on, it takes a little while for the pressure input to be fully utilized, so it's not unusual for the 410 to initially report the altitude as bad as any other GPS receiver. Comparing the readings after about 10 minutes from turning the receiver ON gave a definite advantage to the Map 410. The swings caused by the SA were mostly eliminated and only occasionally the altitude reported by the unit would be different by more than 20 meters. With auto averaging for approximately 15 minutes, the altitude reported was within 10 meters of the actual, every single time we checked.

Users who want to use the altitude readings should remember the value reported by the Map410 is the ellipsoidal height and not the altitude above the Mean Sea Level (geoid height) as reported on the topographical maps.  

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VII    Functionality.

The Map 410 has virtually the same user interface as the GPS 315 / 320. Most of the navigation  screens, data customization and even the menu lay out are identical. Everything that can be found on the GPS 315 screens (follow the link at the bottom to the review), can be found on the Map 410. Everything and more.

The notable additions to the Map 410 interface / data display are:


Dedicated zoom keys, which enable the user to pan and zoom the display at will.


Temperature display (not very good for any instant readings, since it shows the temperature of the inside of the unit)


Map display (discussed in more detail further down).


Major features that the Map 410 shares with the 315 are:


North Finder - Sun and Moon relative positions are shown on the compass rose.


Fish and Hunt calculator - a modern version of the lunar tables, which predict periods of the highest activity in the animal kingdom.


Course projection indicator - a line, displayed on the plotting screen, extending from the current position, along the current course. The length of the line is based on the current speed and time set by the user.


Average speed indicator.


Backtrack (Auto).


Track route (Auto).


Audible Anchor, Arrival, Proximity, Cross Track alarms.


Not only a name, but also a comments can be attached to each waypoint.


One of the Nav. screens displays data in HUGE characters, easily readable in any conditions.


In between other info, there is a digital turn indicator. It tells the user to turn Left (or Right), by a specific number of degrees, in order to correct the heading. A real treat for mariners.


Most of the screens can be customized.


Current position can be displayed in two different  coordinate systems and datums at the same time.


Waypoints and POIs can be sorted by nearest  or alphabetically. 


Altitude information is saved with the waypoints.


VIII    Performance.


As noted in the previous paragraphs, the unit locks on and maintains the lock very well. It's not really unusual - most of the currently manufactured receivers do.

The speed at which the map screen is redrawn may be the weakest point of the unit. It is greatly dependant on the maps loaded / displayed. With a C-Map chart loaded, after a significant zoom change (120 meters to 12 kilometers), it takes on average about 10 seconds for the map, POIs, WPTs and position indicator to redraw. To contrast that; with the unit set to hide the uploaded map data (only base map showing), it was taking only about 2-3 seconds to redraw the base map, WPTs and the position indicator. The screen rotation also appears to be slow when uploaded maps are shown and the only way we found to cope with it when driving a car was to leave the screen in the North UP setting.


Battery life was a really nice surprise. The manual states that the unit will operate for up to 12 hours on a set of 4 AA, alkaline batteries.  We loaded the unit with AA Duracell, run of the mill batteries and left it ON. After the first 10 hours, the unit was checked every 1/2 hour. In the first test, the unit turned itself off after 14 hours. Since that exceeded the spec by  over 10%, the test was repeated. The second time, it took over 15 hours for the unit to turn itself off. 

In a pinch, the unit can be operated on just 2 AA batteries, but we haven't tested the battery life in such conditions.


IX    Base map and default POI set.


Using the optional MapSend CD-Rom from Magellan, the Map 410 can be uploaded with various maps, charts and Points Of Interest (POI). Not everybody might need to use the MapSend CDs, since the receiver comes with a built-in World base map and a database of North American cities and is factory loaded with a few sets of POIs.

The city database and the base map are not replaced / removed when MapSend data is uploaded to the receiver. Other, factory preloaded sets of POIs are replaced by the uploaded ones.


The built-in city database is extensive and densely covers the Americas and surrounding islands. There are a large number of Canadian cities and towns, however the coverage is spotty in some places, especially up North. Major European cities are shown on the base map.

Other, factory pre-loaded POI sets include the following categories


Boat / Canoe (rental? USA only)


 Campground (USA only)


 Golf Course (USA only)


 Fixed NavAids


 Floating NavAids




The last three categories are of special interest to boaters and sailors. The coverage includes the Americas and the surrounding islands as well as the major inland waters. Some of the NavAids shown on the official charts are not in the database, yet the majority of them are. The only other handheld unit that includes Canadian NavAids in the basic configuration is the Magellan 320.


Beside the POIs, the unit has a built-in base map. The detail varies from one area to another. Most of the detail is reserved for Canada, USA, Mexico and a few islands. The features shown include major roads and highways, rivers, lakes, railroads, state, province and country borders.


The USA is covered with fair detail and accuracy. There is no street level detail and small county roads are not shown, yet the detail appears to be sufficient for a drive cross state or country drive.

Coverage of Canada leaves a lot to be desired. There are few railroads and rivers shown. Only the larger lakes appear on the map. The accuracy isn't great - some road segments are over a hundred meters off their true position. On the other hand, the road coverage is the most detailed and up to date of all of the receivers we have seen. The map shows a fairly new highway 407 in the Toronto area. Numerous roads not shown on any other units are shown on the 410's base map. Also, a large number of cities and towns shown on the map make road navigation easy.

One of the Map410's useful functions is that when the cursor is placed on a map feature or a POI, after few seconds, information about that feature or point is being displayed. It is particularly useful when the display is zoomed in the area where the road / highway number shown on the map is outside of the screen limits, or simply to look up light characteristics of a NavAid.


Other than POIs and the base map, the unit comes pre-loaded with a few, small sample charts and maps. They are intended to show the detail that can be uploaded from the optional MapSend CDs.



X.    Uploadable map, chart and POI compatibility.

Possibly the most significant feature of the Map 410 is its ability to be uploaded with map, chart and POI data that are more detailed than the one contained in the base unit. So far, such data can only be uploaded from the optional, Magellan MapSend CD-ROMs. 

MapSend Land contains additional land detail for the USA as well as a POI database that contains similar if not the same set of points as the one found on the DataSend CD. Note that the DataSend CD is designed to work with Magellan 315 / 320 and cannot be used to upload POIs to the Map410. We have not acquired the MapSend Land CD so we can not give you any more detailed information about it.

MapSend Marine contains uploadable C-Map NT Compact marine charts and the NavAid POI database. The review of it can be found in the "Ship Locker" section of our website.  

XI.    Third party software compatibility.

During the evaluation period, we have successfully used the Map 410 with various software. As expected, every software title we tried that was capable of receiving NMEA via serial port worked without a problem. That included OziExplorer, Quo Vadis, Delorme AAA Map'n'go and Delorme Global Explorer. 

In addition, we have successfully uploaded and downloaded tracks, waypoints and routes using OziExplorer and Delorme Global Explorer. There are numerous other software titles that are advertised to be compatible with Magellan receivers. We couldn't try them all, but it should be safe to assume that they all work just as well as the ones we did try. 


XII       Summary and personal, subjective opinions.

Due to its size, the Map 410 may not be the best unit, if the intended, primary use is for hiking or similar activity. It simply is a bit too large to be put in the pants pocket. Still, if the primary use is going to be on a boat or a vehicle, it packs a lot of features that are desired. It can easily be used when on foot and that's when the included belt pouch may come in handy. 

The biggest shortcoming of the Map 410 is the speed at which the unit re-draws detailed maps. It definitely cannot be classified as "instantaneous", however one can get used to it especially considering that most of the time it's worth waiting for.

The 410 really shines in the marine environment. Considering its price, features and charts available, the only other receiver to seriously compete with it is the Lowrance GlobalMap 100. All the other receivers we know of, either cannot display marine charts or are priced much higher than the Map410 is.

Another strong point of the unit is the amount of Canadian road data included. So far, it is not matched by any other manufacturer we know of. Even though maps don't show rural roads and streets, they are sufficient for general orientation under way.


GPS Nuts

April 13, 2000


Related links: 

C-Map NT Compact™ (MapSend Marine), GPS Nuts review Magellan Map410 compatible, C-Map charts .

Magellan’s website

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