273 of 286 people found the following review helpful
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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