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Customer Review

273 of 286 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Existing TomTom users prepare for disappointment, 3 July 2013
This review is from: TomTom GO 500 EU - 5" Sat Nav with Full European Lifetime Maps, Lifetime Traffic Updates, Smartphone Connected and Interactive Screen (Electronics)
If you are someone who already owns a TomTom SatNav, and if you are someone who loves the TomTom user interface design with its many features and customisations, you need to think very carefully before you cough up your cash for the new Go experience. Unfortunately it is all too easy to be swayed by the "free" headlines and the lovely map images appearing in the product marketing photos. Behind this sexy exterior, which does genuinely look nice, lies a complete concept revamp that is a hard pill to swallow to the TomTom converted.

The first major shock to overcome is the realization that this is a very stripped-down device which delivers navigation in one way only - and if you don't like it, that's tough. There is a notable absence of the many customisations that have made TomToms deliver what you want the way you want it, visually and functionally. I would guess that 90% (I joke not) of the menus you'd have found on say a TomTom Go Live 1005, are simply nowhere to be seen on the new Go 500, not even in some other incarnation. Of course that's a double-edge sword because I suspect even the TomTom officiando will admit there were many more menus than they could find the time to use and these could make the device seem a little complicated, but in TomTom's attempt to strip this SatNav down to basics, I think they've gone way too far and now omitted frequent customisations that previously made TomToms stand out above their rivals. I think TomTom are trying to appeal to the less demanding, vanilla ice cream, perhaps even slightly techno-phobic user.

Let's start with the "road view" (perspective) map display. An unusual choice of colours you'll probably think. So you'll try to change it to something more familiar. Tough! I'm afraid the default colour scheme is the ONLY colour scheme. And it's a pretty rubbish scheme at that. In "road view" practically every road which is not on your blue selected route is a dark grey colour, be that a motorway, an A, B or C-road (it seems only minor roads have the privilege of being white). So at a glance, especially when you come up to a complex junction, your screen becomes a mess of dark lines making it very hard to identify that A-road that you know must be somewhere off to the right. And as for those fancy pseudo-3D rendered buildings appearing in all of the marketing shots that give you the "Ooooo" feeling when you first set eyes upon them... Well, unless you happen to live in a major city you'll really not see a single 3D building anywhere.

Another simple but subtle change: Speed cameras no longer appear alongside the road where they were so easy to spot. Now they're off to the right of the screen in the traffic info area forcing you to follow the countdown distance to work out where they might be. Doh! Why-o-why make this silly change?

Then there's the automatic route scaling (which I had disabled on my previous device because I found it very annoying) - this is forced ON with no option to change it.

Overall, regarding the "road view" display, it now seems dull, simple an uninspiring which is really such a shame. You spend 90%+ of your time in the main "road view" display and now it really looks bad - nothing like the shots that grab your attention in the marketing photos and which probably lure the prospective customer to hit "Buy". A deliberate tactic? I don't know but I personally find it at best misleading of TomTom not to include a normal "road view" in their marketing photos because that's what you'll see most of the time.

Another item I liked on my old TomTom was to be asked whether I preferred to take the fastest route, shortest route or to avoid motorways (etc) each time I plotted a route. And now? No, that's tough. You will get the fastest route which you must then change once the route is plotted. Seems clunky.

In an earlier version of this review I had complained at the poor implementation of POIs, as others had also noted. Following some feedback from TomTom I can see that these do exist via a slightly different concept. I don't prefer it but I'll accept that I can't be quite as negative as I was before. Nevertheless, I still had the issue that the way POIs are displayed, especially regarding my local petrol stations and car parks, were misleading.

Unfortunately there are so many examples of change, big and small, that I now barely recognize it as a TomTom at all.

The other potentially very big "gotcha" that is nowhere mentioned in TomTom's marketing blurb is the precise requirements necessary to get your live traffic updates - a brilliant feature of the Live series TomToms and far superior to competitor offerings. With this SatNav these live services are obtained only by connecting to a data service through your mobile phone. But that's OK you think (as I did) because most mobiles these days come with a data contract and most have Bluetooth connectivity. However what they fail to spell out is that your SatNav needs to be "tethered" to your mobile and use it as a hotspot. For me, I have now discovered that my iPhone has had this feature disabled by the provider who is unable to change that arrangement due to some politics between BT and Vodafone. So having bought the SatNav 95% on the availability of free live traffic via my mobile (I was OK with this concept), I am now unable to use it unless I buy a separate mobile phone with a different contract. Of course if your phone does support tethering you are fine, so this need not be a problem for all. But for me, I now have a £200 SatNav that looks very pretty, has up to date maps (that's good), but no traffic. BE CAREFUL.

Despite my disappointment, there are definitely SOME positives of the device. The 2D map and route planning view is extremely nicely rendered. The pinching, scrolling and tapping are intuitive and reliable. And the operation of all the menus is much faster than I've had on any TomTom previously. The routing is quick as well and the overview clear. But these niceties sadly fail to make up for some simple but very important shortcomings. After 5 days of frustrated use, I decided to return mine to TomTom.

Overall, for many reasons I cannot give the new TomTom Go 500 more than a 2 star. But that's me - I am a TomTom lover. Well, I was. I am all for TomTom trying to make things a bit more simple but I am really disappointed with some of the radical decisions TomTom have taken with this stripped-down device which will likely take other TomTom enthusiasts by surprise in the wrong direction. Ironic.
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Showing 1-10 of 41 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 Jul 2013 15:57:44 BDT
Last edited by the author on 4 Jul 2013 16:26:39 BDT
Hello Buzbox, I read your review and wanted to address some of your comments. While we could not include all the features you listed, we did make some major changes to how the device works that we believe are essential to a good user experience such as the Interactive map, Quick Search, My Places and how traffic is visualized on the map and route bar. For some more information on features and future updates please refer to our Discussion Forum:

Regarding your comment on POIs: Petrol stations and Parking spaces are treated as POI categories. These two have been included as part of the menu but you can search for many more categories through Quick Search. To give you an example - if you type restaurant and then click on the Restaurant category that appears on the right side of Quick Search (where POIs are listed), the device will display all restaurants near the location you searched.

Regarding your comments on tethering - I was sorry to read you're in this unique situation of your company actually not allowing for tethering on your current data plan. While we can't provision for every possible tethering situation, it was important to allow for an additional way for drivers to connect to our real-time TomTom Traffic, which we've made subscription free for the first time. For many people tethering is included in their plans and they can easily start benefiting from the connection to their smartphone. Later this year we will release the TomTom GO 6000 and TomTom GO 5000 which are Always Connected models that do not require tethering to a phone. To be honest, those devices might be much better suited to your situation.

In reply to an earlier post on 13 Jul 2013 11:47:16 BDT
Buzbox says:
I appreciate your reply but as a died-in-the-wool TomTom lover (I thought), I have been so shocked by this new experience. I was really looking forward to something even better than I was used to and sadly it disappointed me in so many areas. Perhaps some of those I would have got used to eventually. But the killer for me, apart from the phone issue which is bad luck I guess, is that the regular 3D display looks so terrible now with these bland gray roads than don't even distinguish in colour between a motorway and a C-road. And then not to allow the user any choice... This is a big mistake I'm afraid. There are positives of the device and I wish I could bring myself to get over the shortcomings but I have tried it for a few days in my car alongside my existing TomTom Go Live 1000 (which has a fault and thus why I wanted to replace it) and I just find the old satnav so much better. As you say, the Go 5000 would be a better choice but unless the display changes for the better, I don't think I'll be forking out my money for TomToms any longer if this is now their new flavour of navigation. Sorry.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jul 2013 12:23:34 BDT
paul1999 says:
I used to have a tomtom which received updates from my mobile. Worked well for a long time. Then out of the blue it stopped working. Tomtom blamed it on the phone/carrier. Mobile phone company blamed it on tomtom. After many emails with Tomtom Customer disservices could not get an answer and gave up as life is too short (which is what tomtom bank on - wearing you down with Useless emails). At least with the live series the issue of tethering two devices ceased and if you had a problem you knew where you stood I.e. with tomtom. Now it seems that tomtom are taking a step backwards. A real shame but does not surprise me as the new units will be cheaper to produce which means higher profit margins.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jul 2013 17:00:22 BDT
Hello Buzbox, thank you for the additional feedback. I'll share it internally with the product team. I don't think the colors are likely to change in the near future though. Color representation is really a matter of opinion and personal preference.

In reply to an earlier post on 19 Jul 2013 17:05:43 BDT
Hi paul1999, while I appreciate that your personal preference is not to use a Smartphone to receive services, there are many people that can benefit from our real-time TomTom Traffic which we've made subscription-free for the first time by using the Bluetooth Connection. For people such as yourself we've made sure to keep the option to purchase an Always Connected device such as the TomTom GO 6000/5000 which will become available over the next few months.

I'm not sure whether you've kept any record of your interactions with Customer Care but if you still have an email with an incident number, you could share it with me here and I will do my best to track down your case and see what happened with it. This will help us improve the service we provide.

In reply to an earlier post on 4 Aug 2013 15:11:40 BDT
A. Eastham says:

If colour is a matter of opinion and personal preference, I must therefore assume that Buzzbox is making up the fact that you can't set colour preferences on the maps?


In reply to an earlier post on 7 Aug 2013 15:43:06 BDT
I had the tomtom 6000 on order but cancelled after reading not just the bad comments on Amazon but a lot on the internet about the new GOs . I think tomtom are the best Gps on the market after trying a lot of others and I do like to upgrade to the latest every couple of years but this time I think I will leave it for a bit to see if tomtom will improve the new GOs with updates. Thanks for the comments

In reply to an earlier post on 20 Aug 2013 22:16:30 BDT
[Deleted by the author on 20 Aug 2013 22:17:19 BDT]

Posted on 24 Aug 2013 14:01:47 BDT
R. Owens says:
Hi Buzbox.

Thanks for a really straight-forward factual review of your TomTom device. My own TomTom Go710 has really bitten the dust after many years hard use and I was about to buy another today - until I read your review. I loved the old road colours/classifications - handy for driving round Cornwall on holiday, I loved the choices of routes - fastest, quickest, limited speed etc. and I loved all the menus and customisation I could do.
Sadly this looks like it is no longer the case and I will not be buying a TomTom this time round. So it looks like I will have to investigate Garmin now. Thanks again for saving me a costly mistake....



In reply to an earlier post on 1 Sep 2013 20:38:46 BDT
Buzbox says:
Yes, colour preference is obviously personal but herein people make decisions. For me I think both colour itself and colour range (e.g. distinguishing road types) are surprisingly important and I'm frustrated that TomTom have lost sight of this fundamental feature which was dominant in previous devices. The colour scheme I can choose on my Go Live 1000 closely matches standard, printed map colours so, for example, when I see a blue line I know instantly it is a motorway. That's very helpful. With the Go 500 the colours are not only peculiarly non-standard but practically all roads are the same colour irrespective of the road type and that seems such an illogical design decision. I would happily review my opinion about the Go 500 (although I'd probably need the Go 5000 for reasons I've previously detailed) IF some more sympathetic colour options were available. I really hope you can put this rather high up on your software enhancement request list because I WANT to buy TomTom SatNavs as they're normally so much better than the alternatives and your Live services are truly the best. But with the current Go 500 I'm left high and dry - feels a bit like being let down by a friend :-(
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