The Cobra 8500 HD truck GPS is a touch screen unit designed with professional drivers in mind. Physically the unit looks and feels nice. It comes in at just under 1 inch thick, 7.2 inches wide, and 4.6 inches tall. The 7 inch high-definition display occupies most of the territory with only a small black bezel around the edge. Weighing in at 10.4 ounces it is lighter than comparable models, which is nice when using the included windshield mount. It has an internal battery and takes a 12 volt charger, which is also included.
The main function of any GPS providing routes to and from any location. The 8500 HD comes pre-loaded with maps of the lower 48 states and Canada. Lifetime map updates come included and Cobra usually puts out a full update about once a year. The maps are simple and easy to read. The software prioritizes simplicity of display over information, so using the zoom function is necessary when trying to find the names of small side streets and access roads.
It comes with all the options expected from a modern GPS. Routes can be selected by address, point of interest, coordinates, or intersection. The GPS features live traffic, construction, and weather updates with the option to route around possible delays. As a product designed for commercial use, it includes information on weight and clearance limits as well as commonly used transport routes. Frequently used routes can be saved as favorites for use later. Points of interest are searchable by name or type and include pretty much anything a driver could need while on the road. The information about what amenities are available at each is provided. This feature comes in handy when searching for a shower or Wi-Fi in a new area.
Good planning and accurate information can save a lot of time and money when making a run. The 8500 HD includes a rich set of tools to help do just that. Up to date fuel prices combined with a cost per mile calculator make selecting the right stops a simple task. All it needs is the highway and city miles per gallon for the truck and it will show the most cost effective timetables. Active time and mileage tracking uses the GPS tracking data to provide all the information necessary to keep log books up to spec with little effort. There is even a duty timer that keeps track of on duty and driving hours. Driver assist alerts provide ample warning of upcoming maneuvers allowing for smooth transitions.
The unit provides user interface controls that are simple and intuitive. The touch screen does not support multi-touch which can at times make it feel sluggish in comparison with high-end smart phones and tablets. The Cobra makes up for it with easy to navigate menus and a responsive onscreen keyboard. Daytime visibility is no problem as the screen is amply bright. In fact it can be overly bright during nighttime driving if the brightness is not adjusted down a bit. Minimal distractions along with quick launch menu buttons along the right side make adjustments quick and simple enough that a traffic signal is plenty of time.
Priced in the mid 300s the Cobra 8500 PRO HD is middle of the field in price. It offers a full range of useful functions that are a boon to any commercial driver. The lightweight compact design make it easy to carry and mount. The included usb cable and software allow for full backups of user data. All things considered it is a solid GPS designed with the trucker in mind.