Geek Box

Magellan Map 330 Personal Navigation System

Nobody told me that Klamath Falls, Ore., wasn't on I-5. Not that it was anyone else's responsibility. It was me being dumb again, and when I hit California, I knew something was amiss. This was confirmed by my new Magellan Map 330 ($299.95) when I finally bothered to turn it on. While travelers were once doomed to the origami nightmare of a battered road map, now they can be a tiny triangle moving on a small LCD screen. A few buttons and a U-turn later, I was on the windy, snow-covered path to Klamath Falls. GPS, or global positioning system, is a collection of 24 satellites orbiting the planet, sending signals chock-full of yummy info back to Earth. Your nifty handheld receiver translates that info into your location on a map, your speed, the direction of your travel, how far you've traveled, and whether your road-food breakfast makes another appearance later in the day. Once this technology was only available to the US military so it could pinpoint Middle East milk factories slated for bombing. Now, with a new, affordable generation of handheld GPS receivers, backpackers, boaters, and road warriors alike can bomb milk factories. Or get to Klamath Falls. Whichever.—Mark Driver

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