The Magellan eXplorist 710 is large, fully featured all-purpose GPS with some excellent features such as a large touchscreen, two programmable buttons, and a quick One Touch menu. But, unfortunately, it has several drawbacks like large, raised edges around the screen, sluggish map draws, and a bulky body that severely impact its performance for backcountry navigation. Our tests that show that many other GPS devices perform better and cost a similar amount or less.
Magellan eXplorist 710 ReviewPrice: $550 List Pros: Large screen, records photos and videos, built-in speaker, two customizable buttons, One Touch favorites menu is better than Garmin menu, comes with 24k topo.
Cons: Large, heavy, slower than Garmin units, long startup time, hard to touch screen edges and corners, bottom plastic loop is unnecessary.
Our Analysis and Test Results
The eXplorist 710 is Magellan's top-of-the-line handheld GPS. The 710 is large and in charge, and is designed to be an all-purpose unit for hiking, biking, and moving at faster speeds on an ATV or in a car.
The 710 boasts all the features one would expect in a top-of-the-line unit: it has an electronic compass, barometric altimeter, 3.2 MP camera, and several additional features such as a pre-installed 24k U.S. topo (which is better than Garmin's pre-installed 100k topo), video capabilites, a built-in speaker, and the largest and highest resolution display of any unit tested here.
The best part of the eXplorist 710 is the two customizable hard buttons on the left side of the unit. Under the default configuration these buttons mark a waypoint (top button) and take a photo (bottom button). This feature provides you with quick access to your most-used functions, something no Garmin touchscreen unit has.
Another strong point of the eXplorist 710 is its One Touch menu, which allows for quick access to commonly used functions and profiles. One Touch lies in the bottom corner of the screen and changes depending on what mode you're in, what function you're using, etc. All in all, the eXplorist 710 is a versatile tool for navigation.
There are several significant drawbacks to the eXplorist 710 that override its attributes. First, this is the thickest GPS we tested. In your hand the eXplorist 710 feels more like a large radio than a hiking GPS; the body is unnecessarily bulky. Also, the body's design also impacts the unit's functionality. For example, the 710's raised edges (~1/5") protect the screen but also make touching the edge and corners of the screen difficult. Our thumbs and fingers were frequently obstructed by the encroaching plastic edge. Other touchscreen GPS units we tested have edges, too (namely the Garmin Oregon 550 and Dakota 20) but theirs are shorter. Most GPS units without touchscreens don't have raised edges. Neither do the screens on most touchscreen smartphones. Furthermore, the screen is so imprecise (bigger screens aren't necessarily better for touching) that Magellan divides the keyboard between two screens so your keystrokes will be more accurate. This, of course, also forces you to page back and forth between screens, which is terribly laborious.
One of our testers, a GIS Manager for a Lake Tahoe-based environmental organization (who has 10+ years of GPS experience with the best scientific and recreational units) took several of Outdoor Gear Lab's models in the field for a slope stabilization project with the California Department of Transportation. One week he used the Garmin 550t, which he was impressed with. The following Monday morning he took out the eXplorist 710 yet returned to the office at lunchtime to get another unit because he was so disappointed with its performance. Like most of our testers he found the 710 to be slow, not intuitive, and inferior to other units. So, while it may have some strong points, like customizable hard buttons and the One Touch menu, its drawbacks outweigh its advantages and thus we recommend other units more highly.
Other GPS units like the Garmin Dakota 20 and Oregon 550 offer more for their money.
OutdoorGearLab Member Reviews
Most recent review: January 15, 2014
50% of 2 reviewers recommend it
The Magellan has it's faults, but here it's marked down against models that are inferior to it. The 710 has the best screen of the four (4 times the resolution of the non-touch 62 which scores higher!). The 550's screen is very poor, but doesn't even get a mention.
The Magellan easily has the best reception using SiRFStar III chipset. The 62 is quoted for it's excellent reception, which I know is not the case. The Oregon 550 reception is terrible, but still scores the same as the 710.
Why are the 62's buttons reliable in the cold? I've never had the slightest issue with any device when frequently out in the freezing mountains, even going back to a yellow eTrex.
The 710 boot up time is poor (1 minute), but that's not a huge issue. Otherwise I don't agree that it's any more sluggish than the 550. It's slow coming out of standby mode, but none of the others even have a standby mode.
The keyboard is horrible and there are a whole rake of issues that aren't mentioned here, not least that Magellan do no development on the product and the barometric altimeter is a disgrace, but I did buy this device for a reason. Apart from accuracy the 710 can use unlimited customized maps. Having easily made full 1:25K OS maps I can say they outshine anything I have ever seen on any GPSr and easily outshine the poor quality and expensive 1:50K Garmin Discoverer maps.
Other things of note include full sat nav. Included vector maps that route sensibly (unlike the pathetic attempts the 550 makes at a route) and then guides by voice. The Garmins can manage a beep at best.
I could go on and on, but I think you get my drift. If Magellan had put any effort into developing this device it could have been fantastic. As it is, it's still better than the Garmins in my experience.
Bottom Line: Yes, I would recommend this product to a friend.
I bought a 710 about a month ago on the salesman advice that it could be used for car navigation and overseas travel. Neither is true it is the worst purchase I have made in recent years. It eats batteries but a US supplier has admitted that key functions only work on lithium rather than rechargeable making it a very expensive unit to use. I was told the unit came with detailed maps of Australia and NZ and less detailed for the rest of the world. An understatement. I went to Japan and the available map was so crude it was useless. No more detailed maps were available at any price, only for W Europe and N America. Summary, heap of junk best left alone.
Magellan had an upgrade program where you could send in your old Magellan and get credit for a new gps. I owned a Magellan Gold with the Mapsend program since 2006 which had an excellent topography map listing streams, creeks, POI, city streets etc…about everything you could think of. It was cool as I had things the Garmin didn't.
I figured an upgrade would have more, not less information. Creeks, streams, and mountain tops, etc are missing from the new Explorist 710. Very poor topography.I ATV in a lot of area's that are new to me and knowing what creek you are crossing is very helpful in finding where you are on a map.
The last two years I've went with other on 1000 mile ATV trips pulling trailers and camping along the way. The group relies heavily on gps's, as were always exploring new areas.
This year we will rely more on the Garmin's than the Explorist 710.I'm also involved in a local Search and Rescue unit and we use gps's extensively in our searches….I'm going to miss not having all the information about topography.
Bottom Line: No, I would not recommend this product to a friend.
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