TomTom GPS Reviews

August 9, 2010

TomTom XL 350 TM GPS Review

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Passing along a very reasonable review of the new TomTom XL 350TM, the widescreen unit that offers not only Text to Speech, a whole stable full of features and free lifetime traffic and map updates. I suspect that the latter is offered as a nice outcome of TomTom buying map maker TeleAtlas. Out of date maps used to be an issue, and both TeleAtlas and NAVTEQ have made it a point in recent years to fix outages and up the frequency of available updates. TomTom now offers quarterly updates free with this unit.

Anyway, the TomTom XL 350 TM is very capable unit with not only free map updates but lifetime traffic alerts if you live in a city covered by the FM based service. FM-based traffic alerts are not as detailed or as informative as ones offered over the mobile phone networks due to a lack of bandwidth. They are a good indicator of issues that you don't suspect, but if you need a PhD in trafficology, you'll need a more sophisticated system. The unit is judged as a "Very Competent Navigator" in the About.com, knocking it only for the lack of Handsfree calling, a feature offered on the higher end "GO" series.

Available at Amazon - the TomTom XL 350TM


ReadMore on the TomTom XL 350 TM at About.com

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

February 15, 2010

TomTom Ease Full Review

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TomTom announced the TomTom Ease for the US market last month at the CES 2010 show; it's a US version of the Euro based TomTom Start, announced last year. The entry level devices are targeted at ease of use with a simplified menu, and some features that make it very competitive as an entry level device like Text to Speech spoken street name direction. The standard sized screen (3.5-inch), and simple EasyPort mount offer quick stowage in tight places, while the changeable backplates make for a potentially fun accessory play later to personalize the unit.

I picked up a TomTom EASE at Amazon for around $100 for the purposes of this review, and have been testing it out around town for almost a couple of weeks now. My concerns were around quality of the fit and finish - did TomTom cut too many corners, is the menu system easier to use, and does the performance stack up against other entry level devices.
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December 21, 2009

TomTom iPhone Navigation App Update 1.2 - Full Review

I recently reviewed the TomTom iPhone Navigation App, and called it, "a solid first step platform onto which TomTom can build a world-class navigation product. I do want to see further enhancements for the product, including Text to Speech, lane guidance and live traffic feeds, but I anticipate that this is right around the corner, and can successfully be build on top of the existing platform."

Well, we appear to be just around the corner, and TomTom has offered us the version 1.2 to their application for free with a nice list of additional features that make their Navigation app a very respectable player in the space including:

  • Text to Speech
  • Updated Maps and Points of Interest
  • IQ Routes - a way for the TomTom to benefit from actual drive times collected by users anonymously reporting back their speed along roads.
  • Advanced Lane Guidance - shows you what lane to be in while approaching complex highway intersections
  • Added iPod player support - some limited support for the iPod within the App itself

To some extent this closes the gap with competition that TomTom has with the navigation App, but I give them credit for getting out there with an App early and then iterating quickly to build on success. It's already one of the top grossing Apps in the iTunes App store. I would expect that they will add a for an incremental fee, traffic service onto the App sometime soon. No insider info here, but it's the next logical step in the development pipeline, and they already have the capability to sign people up for live traffic feeds through their standalone platform.

So, the improvements are helpful and certainly worth the free upgrade price. While there have been some issues installing the upgrade, I simply ended up deleting my ver 1.1 on my phone and installing my 1.2 on the iPhone. It just made things easier as I am maxing out the memory with apps, and other junk on there.

Text to Speech

I did not have an issue hearing the iPhone, even at highway speeds, and the text to speech is a nice addition. I have always recommended text to speech if you can afford it as it makes navigating in urban and suburban areas a lot easier when you can hear the road name and then look for the street sign. It inspires a lot more confidence and the added feature performs well. There are all kinds of recorded voices in different languages, but only one "Computer" voice that offers text to speech in the North American version - it's "Samantha"

IQ Routes

The IQ Routes system with your permission, collected actual travel time as stand alone GPS units traveled the highways and byways of the land, in effect correcting their assumptions on travel times on specific roadways. It's a sort of historical average speed across a road with thousands of trips in the database. They might originally think that a road can be traveled at its speed limit, but in fact with two lights and a lot of people turning, the effective time to travel on a road might be 10% slower. You are able to shut off the IQ route capability to test the difference in predicted travel times. In my use, I could see a difference in planning routes, but the difference was minimal in a lot of instances.

Advanced Lane Guidance

I like lane guidance images and use them when available on my GPS navigators. The TomTom App gives you the opportunity to turn it off if you want - Settings--> Advanced--> Lane Images. Often times this feature is reserved for some of the higher end devices, but is finding its way down the product line. It's something I would expect to see in an iPhone App which should be able to support higher end features.


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iPod Support

the iPod support can be had by tapping the bottom boarder of the map, and a slider comes up showing a music note and a voice icon. Tap the music note and a Rewind, Play, Fast Forward bar slides out to offer you the opportunity to play whatever is queued up in your iPod function. You are able to start a song or album before launching the TomTom App, and continue to control it from inside the App. You don't have full browse capability or album picking but it's a good start. The image below shows you the bottom of the (portrait layout) screen with the iPod controls.


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Summary

Net, I think that these additions are a good next step for TomTom, and they offer a quality set of features built on top of a quality navigation product. I do expect to see traffic enabled soon, and continued development of the navigation capabilities and maps.

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (0) | social bookmarking

October 19, 2009

TomTom iPhone App Full Review


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The TomTom App for the iPhone icon was one of the early Apps for the iPhone from a major GPS manufacturer and easily emulates their standalone models in functionality and quality. Navigating with the iPhone has been an unmet promise since the iPhone launched with its teaser GPS capability, which until its update this summer would not allow turn by turn direction Apps on the device.

TomTom's iPhone App is a straight forward navigator, not really utilizing the extensive connectivity to perform back flips in the navigation world, but instead elects to put its energy into making a high quality experience for users in a simple interface. This sometimes limiting simplicity offers entry level capabilities in a trustworthy wrapper that I think is surprisingly good. What I cannot capture properly in words is the simple convenience of having a capable navigation device in your pocket wherever you go. There is no wondering if you left your GPS in the other car, no wondering if you left it at home while on a business trip (happened to me recently and it was a miserable experience - tried to navigate with built in Google maps while someone else drove; never again), and no wondering if you will get to your destination; your GPS is already in your pocket.

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July 12, 2009

TomTom GO 740 LIVE Full Review

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The TomTom GO 740 LIVE marks the first entry to the US market of a connected service by TomTom, one of the top names in personal navigation devices, making a strong step into the next generation of devices with its access to better traffic alerts, Google Search, gas prices and more. At the base, the TomTom 740 is a fully functional navigation unit offering a top of the line approach to TomTom's version of features, **lane assist, Bluetooth handsfree capability, Help Me!, MapShare, and IQ Routes - a way of learning about travel times based on other people's read world experience.

With a strong base, the TomTom GO 740 LIVE adds on a nice set of features allowing the connected device to help make your commute easier, a search for a destination more straightforward and and overall more informed traveler when you decide to use the connected features as part of your planning process. The ability doesn't come free through, as the connected plan essentially has you paying about $10 per month for the connected services. Don't want to pay the fees? The GO 740 LIVE becomes a regular old GPS, that still allows you to navigate to an on-board set of POI's, with a strong feature set and solid navigation. If you are not in the market for the LIVE connected capabilities, look elsewhere, as there are cheaper ways even within the TomTom line to get a full complement of features without paying for the LIVE capabilities that TomTom includes. As I came into the testing of the TomTom GO 740 LIVE for this review, key in my mind were the question son how well do the connected features work, how are they integrated into the regular GPS navigation capabilities and the bottom line or is it all worth the extra $10 a month for the subscription.

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November 23, 2008

TomTom ONE 125 Full Review

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The new TomTom ONE 125 comes to the market at a time of intense competition and high expectations for the major GPS makers as they vie to marketshare and the attention of the millions of shoppers who are discovering the wonders of not getting lost and actually getting to where you want to go without stopping, backtracking or imagine that, asking for directions at a gas station. It also comes to market at a time when shoppers are starting to parade out to stores with cash in hand for holiday shopping.

TomTom ONE 125 vs. ONE 130

The TomTom ONE 125 brings a special edition that may or may not be around after the holiday push. The only difference between the TomTom ONE 130 and the TomTom ONE 125 is that the TomTom ONE 125 has US maps, and not the full North American maps like the TomTom ONE 130. Not a big sacrifice for people who may never venture north to Canada. I predict that it will be a big seller for Black Friday - If you want more info on Black Friday 2008 see all of the Black Friday GPS deals. The TomTom ONE 125 continues the slimmed down design with an ultra thin look, and an innovative mount, dubbed the EasyPort. Fold flat profile and a twist to adhere suction mount make the EasyPort different in the GPS world.

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August 12, 2008

TomTom ONE 130/130S Full Review

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The new TomTom ONE 130 and ONE 130S come to the market at a time of intense competition and high expectations for the major GPS makers as they vie to marketshare and the attention of the millions of shoppers who are discovering the wonders of not getting lost and actually getting to where you want to go without stopping, backtracking or imagine that, asking for directions at a gas station. The TomTom ONE 130/130S are the refreshed face of the TomTom ONE line that continues to bring big player GPS features and quality to the market at entry level prices. The units slim down in 2008 with an ultra thin look, and an innovative mount, dubbed the EasyPort. Fold flat profile and a twist to adhere suction mount make the EasyPort different in the GPS world. With the addition of the "S" designator, you get a nice bump with Text to Speech on this unit, something that I continue to advocate for if you can afford it.

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August 11, 2008

TomTom ONE XL 330/330S Full Review

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The new TomTom ONE XL 330 and ONE XL 330S come to the market at a time of intense competition and high expectations for the major GPS makers as they vie to market share and the attention of the millions of shoppers who are discovering the wonders of not getting lost. When you can afford it, there are some nice bonuses to having a widescreen GPS which include a better overall view of where you are going, easier input of data (i.e. your destination's address), and just pure readability of the whole interface. I'll explore the advantages below. I recommend widescreen GPS units if you can afford it.


The TomTom ONE XL 330/330S are the refreshed face of the TomTom ONE line that continues to bring big player GPS features and quality to the market at entry level prices. The units slim down in 2008 with an ultra thin look, and an innovative mount, dubbed the EasyPort. Fold flat profile and a twist to adhere suction mount make the EasyPort different in the GPS world. So, while a widescreen GPS may take up some more room, you won't be penalized too much considering the thin profile of the unit.


With the addition of the "S" designator, you get a nice bump with Text to Speech on this unit, something that I continue to advocate for if you can afford it.


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July 7, 2008

TomTom GO 930 Full Review

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The TomTom 930 is the new top of the line TomTom that is starting to gain some steam these days in the stores. TomTom has folded in Historical Average Speeds into the GO 930 to make the unit more accurate in setting travel times, especially when traffic is concerned. While TomTom's map supplier, TeleAtlas is teamed up with Inrix, and has the ability to fold their traffic speed data into the Map offering, TomTom went out and grabbed their own historical average speeds from users like you and me. If you agreed to submit anonymous user data when you sync'd your TomTom to TomTom HOME, you sent up some data that presumably included some road speed data; including traffic hot spots and slow downs. We will see how broad the coverage is and how it affects our usage of the unit.

Other than the TomTom IQ Routes, the unit offers "Lane Guidance" which shows you what lane to be in when the going gets tough on the highways.

The TomTom 930 still encompasses a lot of features that were rolled into the GO 930, including membership to the MapShare community, a Map guarantee for up to date maps for the first 12 months that you own the device, enhanced positioning that helps to track your position through an accelerometer when you enter tunnels, Bluetooth Handsfree and voice address input.

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December 10, 2007

TomTom GO 920/920T Full Review

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I have been lucky enough to have been driving around with the TomTom GO 920T, their latest top of the line release that was unleashed onto the GPS market barely a month ago. The unit offers a pretty significant slug of features, wrapped in a nice but modest looking widescreen package. At its heart, the TomTom GO 920 is a very capable navigator, complete with North American and European maps pre-loaded, a bright widescreen, a high sensitivity receiver, TMC Traffic feeds (standard on the 920T; optional on the 920), Bluetooth handsfree, a remote control, and a voice activated control capability for address inputs.

The new GO 920/920T also have the ability to do dead reckoning when the unit loses a signal, like when you are going under the big dig tunnel in Boston, so it tells you where to go despite having lost a signal. Like the TomTom GO 720, the TomTom GO 920/920T has the ability to record your own turn commands through an easy interactive menu, making the navigation a lot of fun, especially if you used kids as your voice talent.

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September 21, 2007

TomTom GO 720 Full Review

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The TomTom GO 720 is a solid product introduction that offers not only some feature improvements, but some innovative steps that shows TomTom positioning itself as an innovator in the GPS marketplace. TomTom is not afraid to step up and maintain its position in the upper echelon of GPS manufacturers. With this introduction, it is more obvious that TomTom is willing to develop products and software for the US market, where they previously brought over a nearly unaltered Euro product. The change is welcome and will make them more competitive in the US market where growth rates are still well north of 50% per year.

The TomTom GO 720 at the base is a widescreen GPS navigation system that has a SiRF star III chipset and text to speech capabilities. The unit comes with North American maps. The unit also offers MapShare, a program to allow users to make minor alterations on their units, submit those changes, and if elected receive changes from other users who use MapShare. The TomTom GO 720 also has a fun feature to make your own recordings for the verbal navigation commands. Finally the unit also features a “Help Me!” button that allows users get access information to quickly get help from police, service stations and hospitals.


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July 18, 2007

TomTom ONE XL Review

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PCMag has published their review of the TomTom ONE XL. They gave it an overall “Good” rating and noted that it lacked text-to-speech (TTS) capability, which is reserved for their higher end units. The TomTom ONE XL is their basic device in the now more popular widescreen package. PC Mag found that it did a good job routing to desired locations, and came with the familiar TomTom interface that has become more popular in the US market.

I have reviewed the TomTom ONE XL, and agreed with everything Craig Ellison said here in his article for PC Mag. I think that the TomTom ONE XL is a solid unit, and with the newest version of the TeleAtlas maps, a lot of those nasty kinks are worked out. The $399 price point is a tough one to beat for a widescreen unit. PC Mag smartly compares the TomTom ONE XL to the Mio C520. I already reviewed the TomTom ONE XL and my Mio C520 review is just around the corner.

ReadMore on the review at PCMag

More on the TomTom ONE XL here at GPSLodge

Scott Martin at Permalink | Comments (2) | social bookmarking

June 21, 2007

TomTom GO 720 Preview & First Impressions

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Update: See my Full Review of the TomTom GO 720

On my recent trip to TomTom, I was able to play with the new TomTom GO 720 and wanted to give you my first impressions. The TomTom GO 720 was recently announced, and while it’s not yet available to the public, it will be by the end of July/Early August. I think there are a couple of things going on with the TomTom GO 720 that are worth noting. Gone is the big form factor; thin is in. The big news item that was associated with the TomTom GO 720 release was the MapShare program which should allow users to have some limited input initially on the maps, allowing you to input on the correctness of the maps and share those corrections with others.

The TomTom GO 720 is not just about MapShare, or its slim form factor. It's got a lot more.

  • Complete Information on the TomTom GO 720 here at GPSLodge.com

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  • June 10, 2007

    TomTom ONE XL Full Review

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    - A Hands on Review by GPSLodge -


    TomTom ONE XL - Recommended on my Father's Day GPS Buying Guide

    The TomTom ONE XL is the follow-up widescreen version of the successful second generation TomTom ONE that was launched last year. Since the TomTom ONE was launched, the GPS world has gone widescreen, and like I had predicted, the widescreen version of the flat form factor TomTom ONE was a sure-fire sequel. For those who are familiar with the TomTom interface, this won’t be a big change from what you’re used to. TomTom has captured the key elements of success in a widescreen version that give you just a bit more to love on the dash as you’re traveling to your destination.

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