OK, it's been a while since I did anything gadget related, so I decided to do a review of my latest toy, the Tom Tom Go 500 Satellite Navigation System.
In my last review (my iRiver H340 mp3 player) I found an article on MisticRiver where my opinion was insulted, and I was called a 'crack smoker' among other things, but all in all, the fan boy insulted me, called my review rubbish, even though he didn't make sense with his rebutalls. Unfortunately, the thread was closed, and I was unable to make my view clear, so I'll start like I started before.
I'm a natural critic. Everyone who knows me, knows I have a knack for picking out faults very quickly, but it doesn't mean I don't like something. Because I know myself, I will say this now. This review may come out as negative, but PLEASE read it to the end before you decide to insult my opinion. Thank you
TomTom: the review
I had known for a long time that I would need some sort of Satellite Navigation as soon as I got a car, as my entire knowledge of London is the underground map !! So I managed to print out a map from Google maps to my nearest Halfords store, and then used the TomTom to get home. OK, actually I can start the review there.
Halfords: The promise keepers?
I went to the Halfords store at Tottenham Hale shopping complex. Halfords promises you a free setup and demo of the product, so I figured why not. However, the guy who attended to me was one of the most unfriendly people I have ever met in my life, and when I asked about the free setup, he said they would set it up in the store, but not in my car. However, the latest Halfords TV ads also show a setup in your car, so I'm a bit angry with them, to be fair, I didn't need the setup, but a promise is a promise. All I got from the guy was an earful on how the kit was non-returnable. So, Halfords, I'm sorry, but you get two thumbs down from Boso.
TomTom: the journey home
So I keyed in my postcode, and decided to test the TomTom by using it to get home. First of all, it took me through a rather unfamiliar route, which I'm not so sure whether was the best way home. I proposely took a few wrong turns, and watched as it recalculated the way home. However, I was perplexed when I was told to take a right turn where there was a sign saying 'No right turn'. So I kept on going, and the route was recalculated, and I got home eventually. However, I put this down to the fact that the map was out of date, so I got home, and decided to try and update the maps.
TomTom: Update me if you can
The instructions seemed clear, connect to the website, and update the TomTom. I managed to update the software quite easily, but when I went to the URL to update the maps, I got some very confusing instructions. I had a 'code' which was valid till September 2006, but the page said I couldn't update my maps for free any more, that I had to buy 'at a discount' for about 80 euros. Thanks but no thanks. I find the TomTom website very good to look at, but difficult to find what you're looking for. I eventually managed to download Safety Camera locations for the UK, and get TomTom traffic on a 6 month trial period.
TomTom: Handsfree Traffic
I went for the TomTom after extensive research. I've been in 2 cars where Satellite Navigation was used, and both of them rated TomTom highly, although they both said it had it's drawbacks, but they wouldn't trade it in for anything else. I chose the TomTom Go 500 specifically, because I wanted to use the handsfree utility with my phone.
Well, the handsfree function works. However, I've found that I can hardly hear the other person speak, even when the TomTom is at max. volume. Also, the mic isn't loud enough as well, although I suspect you'll need to buy the external mic to use the handsfree properly.
As for TomTom traffic, it sounds like a great idea. However, I've only ever managed to connect to the Traffic service once, after trying a million times. And what did it do? Updated the traffic information on Friday evening, and used that to plan a trip home on Saturday that took me into a few too many side streets !! Needless to say, it's been turned off now.
Tom Tom: My new best friend
OK, in the last 2 weeks, TomTom has become a wonderful companion. So much so, I've personified it, I now refer to TomTom as a person in my family. All my friends seem a nit confused when I say stuff like "TomTom said I should go this way" or "TomTom doesn't agree with you". But for the most part, TomTom has allowed me to take trips I wouldn't have had the courage to make. I've been to Slough, Rochester, Thamesmead, Canada Water, and all I needed to do was to be armed with a postcode, or an address, and I'm practically there !!
I was particulary proud yesterday when I went to a friends wedding. After the wedding ceremony, everyone got in their cars to go to the reception venue. All the cars did a U turn, however, TomTom told me to keep going in the opposite direction. I was confused, but after a while, decided to go with TomTom. Along the way, the bride and grooms car drove past me, in the opposite direction. But TomTom told me the venue was just around the corner. I went with TomTom, and found the place soon enough. Imagine the smile on my face when the happy couple came in about 10 minutes later........
TomTom 1 Humans 0
TomTom: the verdict
When alls said and done, I haven't really used any other Sat. Nav product, so it's a bit hard to be objective. But as time has passed, I've become more and more comfortable with TomTom, and I can't see how anything could be better. TomTom traffic is a new service which I'm sure will get better with time, but for now, I'll not use it. However, I'm really happy with it, and I love the fact that I can sit in my car, and plot my route to anywhere in Europe, with confidence.
The guy in Halfords said "If you afford it, get a TomTom". And right now, I agree.