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Large Scale Road Atlas (Rand Mcnally Large Scale Road Atlas USA) Spiral-bound – April 15, 2014
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A quick sanity check of some areas I know have undergone recent growth shows the information has been updated. Municipalities that were a tiny dot in 2003 are now a medium sized dot, and the highway re-designations (going from a sate highway to a federal interstate) I checked are now accurately shown.
It's a tiny bit smaller than the old "traditional" copy, except it's about twice as thick - maybe three times if you include the spiral binder. The scale of maps I checked is definitely larger.
Some real-world comparisons ... measuring the on-page differences between the city centers of Jacksonville, FL and Orlando, FL ; in the 2003 version it's about 5.5", in the 2016 Large Scale it's about 7.5" - I think that mainly gives more room for larger text. Measuring the height of the "J" in Jacksonville ... 2003 = 0.145", 2016 = 0.165" ... I won't attempt to accurately measure the smallest text but on the Large Scale version is more easily read without concentration or optical assistance. So, a solid win for the Large Scale - and I believe their claim of "35% larger maps" is supported.
Even with pretty careful and infrequent use, plus the official protective cover, I've found the yardstick covers of my past atlases inevitably come loose from their stapled binding. The Large Scale is spiral bound, so again ... win for the Large Scale, at least for longevity. That's also where the possibly big problems come in - as other reviewers have mentioned, although possibly in less detail than I plan to.
When they boosted the size of the maps, compromises had to be made. Especially for large and/or non-rectilinear states, this can be awkward. Most of the time it actually works out fine. But it does sometimes get in the way. For instance, planning a trip between Miami and Pensacola requires moving between four separate pages. I can live with that, and respect the difficulty of optimizing print resources.
But ... it's also clear there wasn't as much optimization as there probably should have been, because some pretty ridiculous situations are easy to find. (I'm focusing on Florida because that's the state I know best - I saw several other cases just like this on the other maps) My example photo below shows pages 54 and 55 ...
Both the main map of the Western panhandle, and the inset map are split very awkwardly. Having 3 inches of map on one side, and 1 inch on the other is just silly. Maybe they should have adjusted the scale a little, or cropped differently, or moved the Key West inset to a different place. I don't know, I'm not the expert mapmaker Rand McNally is - but I'm pretty sure they could have done a better job than this.
Even worse - the text has not been adjusted to account for the page gutter either. That's find in the staple-bound version, because adjacent pages end up for or less continuous. But for the spiral bound version that's a problem. See "Rooseve lt Blvd" in the Key West inset map. That case can probably be lived with pretty easily.
But what about "Grand Ridge" and "Sneads" ... for someone who doesn't already know what they're looking at, that might be very confusing. The 2003 standard scale has a similar displaced map for the Western FL panhandle is smaller, but way clearer.
So, bottom-line : I still like this atlas, which provides a concise but detailed reference. I will appreciate the larger writing - especially when I'm in the car. But there are definitely some annoyances. I'm not going to return it, but next time I need one - assuming I haven't gone 100% electronic - I'm probably not going to go with the Large Scale version again unless it has significantly changed.