Sunday, March 18, 2012

A (shaky) first look at Landmark Guidance

UPDATE: Read my hands on review of the Magellan RoadMate 5230T-LM with Landmark Guidance.

I’ve been testing the Magellan Roadmate 5230T-LM for the last few weeks, which (AFAIK) is the first navigator in the US to feature Landmark Guidance. Basically, in addition to using street names for guidance, it will tell you to turn at “landmarks” like a McDonalds or a Chevron station. You can see and hear it in action in the admittedly shaky video above. Apparently I need a camera with image stabilization, although the main point in this video is the audio.

POI accuracy

Of course the big issue here is POI accuracy. For example, many BP gas station franchises around the country have changed brands since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Yet there are plenty of former BP stations in the POI database listed as BP. And therein lies the problem — without an accuracy level that we’ll probably never see, this feature will give you misleading directions. Is it cool? Yes. But it compromises the core navigation function of the device. Which is probably why we haven’t seen Garmin or TomTom introduce it (and hopefully never will).  This is nothing but a gimmick and a likely deleterious one at that. Fortunately, Magellan has done two things which help – in almost all cases they give a street name for the turn too, and the feature can be disabled under Settings > Navigation.

NAVTEQ or Tele Atlas?

It is unclear if this data is being provided by NAVTEQ or Tele Atlas. The latter is referenced as a data provider in the manual,  but both companies are listed in the EULA on the device. And we do know that Magellan has been switching over to Tele Atlas maps.

Nevertheless, I don’t recall Tele Atlas releasing such a product. When NAVTEQ announced theirs, it was dubbed Natural Guidance. However, Navman is using a NAVTEQ product with this name (Landmark Guidance) in Australia. To further complicate things, Navman is owned by MiTAC, parent company of Magellan. Confused yet? You’re not alone!

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.


  1. gpshiker says:


    Did you try the Stabilize feature under Enhancements in YouTube? It can reduce the shake as well.


    • Yeah, it sucked. Made it worse. I’ve since replaced it with the original video. And I did discover that iMovie has a stabilization feature, but it didn’t help much either.

  2. Nice language Rich. I don’t come to your site to read that you think something “sucks”. Do you french your mother with that potty mouth. You owe your followers an apology before you delete this post because it does not show you in a positive light

  3. As the Product Manager in North America for NAVTEQ® Natural Guidance, I’d like to clear up a slight misconception….The video shown here is a different take on landmark guidance, whereas NAVTEQ® Natural Guidance provides a user experience that is very different as it is based on detailed analysis of each intersection to determine the optimal landmark to utilize. While NAVTEQ® Natural Guidance follows a rigorous maintenance plan in order to ensure the POIs utilized are accurate, up-to-date and relevant to the end-user, this video shows a product that is a more simplified version of NAVTEQ® Natural Guidance. The product obviously does not take into account whether the POI is the best landmark (or even one that works at all) for landmark guidance. NAVTEQ® Natural Guidance takes into account variables such as direction of travel, visibility, seasonality and relevancy, which will give the user the best possible experience when using landmark based guidance.

    NAVTEQ® Natural Guidance supplies precise, comprehensive location reference to offer a simplified, humanized way of providing navigation. There simply is no other product like it on the market today.

  4. Jeff Carpenter says:

    Interesting comments by Navteq. While I have no reason to doubt anything they said I do believe the fact remains that this content is still delivered to the GPS as part of a quarterly map update. There has been no innovation in incremental, frequent map and POI updates. So we are still only getting this content on a quarterly basis. And there is still lag between when Navteq delivers the content to their customer and when consumers get it from the GPS manufacturer. So it still means, as far as I can see, that we are still talking about the content being 3 to 6 months out of date at an absolute minimum. In reality probably longer by the time an error is recognized, reported, researched and corrected.

    Until the day that we see incremental content updates pushed to devices on a frequent basis, I see this being of limited useless as was the contention of the original post.

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