I’ve used Magellan GPSs for about five years. I find them pretty easy and intuitive to use and like them. I’m not sure if it’s just a matter of what you’re used to, though. Magellans have their quirks–they’re more prone to sending you on u-turns than other brands–but mine doesn’t recalculate unless you change directions, its routes are fairly intelligent, its time predictions are pretty close, and I like that it dings at you just before you’re supposed to turn. My only gripes with it are that it doesn’t display the speed limit and the newest maps available for my model date to something like 2009.

I used a Garmin Nuvi for a week this summer. I found it much more fickle about recalculating routes, and watched in horror as it recalculated a highway-only route to a stoplight-prone route on my trip. Maybe the stoplight-prone route was shorter, distance-wise, but both predicted an arrival time of 2:09. Not knowing how to get the highway route back, I followed the stoplight-prone route through a booming commercial district on a Saturday afternoon and ended up arriving at 2:39, swearing under my breath at the thing.

The Magellan also makes it much faster and easier to enter an address, and makes it easy to choose between minimum/maximum use of highways, shortest distance, or shortest time, and to avoid toll roads. It took me five minutes to learn all that on my Magellan; after a week with a Garmin I still struggled to do those things, which I consider very basic. I can think of circumstances where I’ve needed to use all five of those options, such as driving to Baltimore/Washington airport at rush hour. You don’t want to be stuck on the Parkway under those circumstances–Magellan’s “Least use of Freeways” options saves you an hour.

Since I can’t get maps for my Magellan, I’m going to need to replace it at some point, maybe later this year. If you haven’t switched to using a smartphone only (not practical for me–sometimes I drive places that I can’t get a good cell signal), what’s your experience with Garmin, Magellan and Tom Tom?