Magellan Tough Case – Review by Jeff Cutler

July 16, 2010

I’m a traveler. I like to take trips around my neighborhood, my city, my region, my country and even into and between other countries. And the device that’s served me well most of the time has been a handheld GPS that I bought years ago online.

As coincidence would have it, that GPS is a Magellan Meridian and I’ve used it for everything from geocaching to plotting where my plane was going.

Now, Magellan has come out with a multi-use device that makes me think I might be done with the standalone GPS I’m so used to carrying with me. This device – and bear in mind that this is a first-look review…I’ve only had the gadget for a mere 24 hours – is fantastic at first blush. It’s the Magellan ToughCase for iPhone and iPod Touch.

What makes it so fantastic? The case is fully sealed, totally protective, and it includes a GPS transceiver that boosts and assists GPS navigation so that you can use your iPhone for even more precise navigation than ever before.

Here are some photos provided by the company and then shots of my iPhone in my hand in the case. Notice the size and the thickness of the case. Not horribly huge, but still a bit of a surprise. The main thing you need to remember is that instead of carrying two devices – a GPS and a phone – you’re carrying one.

Further, you are also carrying a charger. Yes, the ToughCase is a charger too. It keeps your iPhone or iPod Touch juiced up nicely.

What you can see right off the bat is that the case is a little bulky. But you need that. If you’re going to trust your iPhone to a case, I’m of the opinion that the case you use better be bombproof. This one is. It’s solid and waterproof.
Let me quickly list my thoughts on the Magellan ToughCase…

The charger is a great touch. I am always walking around with a cable and a charger plug to keep my phone powered. This removes the need for me to do that.

The GPS just plain works. I love the additional accuracy of the GPS receiver inside. It boosts whatever GPS app or the map application of the iPhone. I’m still monkeying with the settings as it seems that you still need to have some sort of cell or Wifi signal to use the GPS. That might be a sticking point but I’ll figure it out soon.

The protection factor is huge for me. I usually carry around an OtterBox case that’s almost waterproof and is definitely rugged. This case leaves that in the dust with its waterproof construction and all-around heft.

What don’t I like? I’m not sure I like the price – it’s $199 for the case.

I really want the case to allow me to sync my iPhone while inside…but it doesn’t. This is clearly a drawback of having a completely sealed unit. But having to take the iPhone out repeatedly to add podcasts and files is a bummer. It also makes it possible for dirt and dust to enter the case if you’re not careful.

I love the power options. The buttons on the bottom of the case allow you to charge the phone; use the GPS while charging the phone, or just allow the phone to run normally and not deplete the GPS or charge in the case.

And the case comes with an insert for your iPod Touch and all the necessary cables to charge the case.

*Inside the case is a dock that fits the iPhone or iPod Touch perfectly.

It’s a good option for anyone who uses their phone as a GPS, travels for work or pleasure a lot, or just runs down their phone incessantly.

I’ll let you know what I think after I’ve used the case for a few weeks in the wild.*

*I’m headed to New Orleans in a week or so to travel around the marshes and Gulf of Mexico to assess and report on the environmental impact the oil spill has had on businesses in the region. I’ll be relying on the ToughCase to direct me around the area.