The Scenic Route: Navigating The Roads Less Traveled
September 21, 2012
Filed under RV Blog
When we started planning the year-long trip we’re calling The Scenic Route we knew we’d be facing more than a few navigational challenges. Have a look at some of the convoluted routes you’ll find on the National Scenic Byways program’s website and you’ll see what we mean.
While we’re still old-school enough to carry paper maps and a road atlas for backup, most of our day-to-day navigational chores over the past 7,000 miles have been handled by the Rand McNally RVND 7710, a well thought-out unit specifically designed to meet the unique needs of us wide-ranging RVers. Having tested dozens of nav systems over the years, I can say without qualification that it’s one of the best aftermarket units I’ve tried. High points include:
Supersize Screen: The seven-inch high-definition touchscreen means no more squinting while trying to read map details. Equally important are the large on-screen buttons and keyboard that make inputting a destination or searching for a point of interest significantly less frustrating than is the case with smaller units. We especially like the large displays for important info like current vehicle speed and posted speed limit for the route you’re traveling.
Intuitive Interface: The fact that I hate reading instruction manuals didn’t stop me from putting the Rand McNally RVND 7710 through its paces right out of the box. In other words the unit’s operation is very intuitive, to the point where anyone should be able to master the basics fairly quickly. Discovering and making use of the full range of handy features will likely take a little longer, but using it every day on your next roadtrip as we did definitely helps shorten the learning curve.
Extensive Database: With 14 million points of interest, chances are good you’ll find what you’re looking for in the RVND 7710′s database. What we especially liked were the extensive listings of RV parks, truck stops and attractions including info on the food, fuel and retail choices you’ll find at upcoming interstate exits. In short, it puts exactly the kind of info every RVer needs on the road at your fingertips.
Little Things: What really sets this unit apart in my experience, however, is the long list of small details built into it, including the ability to customize the unit for the width, height and length of the rig you’re driving so it will alert you to (and route you around) low bridges and other restrictions on the road ahead. Also welcome are user-selectable warnings of speed limit changes, state lines, time zones and more. The optional sunshade is another nice touch as it helps minimize the screen’s tendency to wash out in direct sunlight.
In fact, we like the Rand McNally RVND 7710 so much the only real fault we can find with it is its size, as my vertically-challenged wife found it difficult to see around it in a few situations like tight, winding roads. While I personally wouldn’t trade the big seven-inch screen for anything, many of the same features can also be had on the smaller five-inch RVND 5510 (which is still bigger than many aftermarket GPS units) if you’re concerned about outward visibility.