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The new Apple sat-nav, the iGO. Toyota won't be happy. Wait, it's made by who?...
on 14 August 2013
---- UPDATED (16/06/15) REVIEW BEGINS ----
*** I try to update this review regularly, but to see the full (and current) list of software updates, visit the TomTom website here http://bit.ly/VtrbFW. This review relates to software version 15.202 and all previous ***
This is an in depth product review (updated after around 24 months use) for TomTom's premium navigation device, the GO 6000 (but will also largely apply to any of the GO X0, GO X00/X10 and GO X000/X100 devices - for this reason, I have also placed this review within their respective pages). My aim is to provide an honest viewpoint that will help you make a decision about purchasing, whether you're a complete newcomer to sat-navs, or use them on a daily basis. In certain aspects, I will compare this device to my previous sat-nav, a TomTom GO LIVE 1005 World. In recent reviews of TomTom's latest sat-navs I have seen a worrying trend of consumers buying a product without really realising what that specific model can, and more importantly can't do. I will attempt to enlighten you all.
---- TOMTOM GO X0/X00/X10/X000/X100 PRODUCT RANGE DIFFERENCES ----
Let's get this out the way.
Around May/June 2015, TomTom updated most of their lines of sat-navs, which makes updating this review more than a little complicated. The reason being, just because TomTom no longer sell certain models on their website, doesn't mean that you can't still buy them, so I will try and encompass every model of the GO that you can currently purchase - here goes...
GO SERIES = THREE RANGES:
There are essentially three ranges of sat-navs within the GO series. Each starts with a number. This number designates the screen size in inches (e.g. GO 50 and GO 5000 have a 5" screen, GO 600 and GO 6100 have a 6" screen). When I talk about the X0 series, I'm simply referring to either the GO 40, 50 or 60.
If you're comparing sat-navs within the same range, then as far as I'm aware, the only differences are going to be screen size and screen resolution (resolution improving as you go up screen sizes). All of the GO sat-navs have the same software within them.
I will attempt to outline the range differences below, here goes...
ENTRY LEVEL RANGE:
GO 40 - GO 50 - GO 60
This is the cheapest range of the series. They are entry level sat-navs. The major (with a capital 'M') feature that differentiates these devices from the other GO sat-navs, is that they have a resistive screen. The mid-range and premium range sat-navs all have capacitive screens. A resistive screen registers pressure on the screen, so it's older technology, therefore costing less. Capacitive screens are what you'll find on all modern smartphones; smooth glass that require no actual pressure on the screen to register input. Capacitive is more modern, and better in my opinion, therefore costing more. If you'll be wearing big heavy gloves when using your sat-nav, then a resistive screen will be better (unless of course the gloves are designed to work with touch screens!).
Connection to Live services (i.e. traffic) is done via a smartphone (explained further just below).
GO 500 - GO 600 (both discontinued by TomTom)
GO 510 - GO 610
This is where it gets a little complicated. Until very recently, you used to be able to buy the GO 500/600 from the TomTom website; you no longer can. I realise that when they say a product has `lifetime' something (for example maps), that is for the lifetime of the product, not you! I believe if you were to buy a GO 500/600 now, they would still be supported in terms of updates, but that's something I'd recommend you confirm with TomTom prior to purchase.
These mid-range sat-navs use capacitive screens, so in my opinion are better than the entry-level range. This range compares directly to the premium range, but differs in one major way - connectivity. This mid-range (just like the entry-level range) offering connects to TomTom Live services (i.e. traffic) via a smartphone. This simply means that you need a smartphone (I believe only iPhone or Android) with you at all times if you want to get traffic updates, which you do. To find out if your phone is compatible: http://goo.gl/KQx346. Keep in mind you will be using up data on your phone, so review your contract etc before purchase.
The updated GO 510/610 models add lifetime world maps and lifetime speed cameras to the mix.
GO 5000 - GO 6000 (both discontinued by TomTom)
GO 5100 - GO 6100
These are the premium sat-navs from TomTom. They have a capacitive screen, and are 'always connected'. Simply put, they get traffic updates automatically, as they have a sim-card inside. There is no need to connect your phone to it ever, or even have your phone with you.
As with the mid-range, the new GO 5100/6100 models, now include lifetime world maps and lifetime speed cameras.
---- AESTHETICS AND ACCESSORIES ----
It's beautiful. Simple.
I liked the look of my previous sat-nav, but in my opinion this is even more attractive. The corners are more rounded and I prefer the grey plastic on the front as opposed to the black. The 6 inch model is massive, but then it was always going to be. With a recent software update, you can now change the size of text and buttons; small, medium or large. I prefer the small, but I imagine people with eyesight issues will be glad of this enlarging ability.
Bottom line, I love the size of the 6" sat-nav and don't regret it. If justification to the wife for forking out extra for a bigger screen is needed, then you can always claim it's safer!
The supplied window mount is just like the one provided with my old GO LIVE 1005, only better. I had a few issues with the old one where I'd slot the device into the mount, and just presume it was charging, only for it to die at the most inopportune moment. This time, the charging cable (micro-USB & same length as previous) plugs directly into the back of the mount, never touching the actual sat-nav. The magnet holding the device in place is also stronger than previously, as anything less than a firm pull will simply tilt the mount. To date, this is the best window mount for any sat-nav I have owned/used, it just works.
Two years ago, none of the GO series came with a case. I purchased TomTom's own universal case for 6 inch sat-navs for £20 from Amazon. I wasn't massively impressed. In the first six months, it was a tight fit; I mean very tight. Once opened you could hold it upside down and the sat-nav wouldn't budge. This might be a plus for some, but for me it became a pain to put in and out, something that would surely push the security-stupid to leave it on show. The case provides protection from scratches, very minor spills and being bumped around in the glove box. I would NOT want to drop it from normal holding height, even onto carpet. The interior of the case is designed in such a way that forces me to put the sat-nav in backwards, avoiding the risk of the ridiculously placed positioning material scratching the screen (not the touch screen part, but still the glass surrounding it). Clearly designed late on a Friday afternoon! My leather case for my old 5 inch sat-nav was a lot better in my opinion, if they ever sell one for my GO 6000, I'll definitely get one. TomTom also do a huge case that I've never used/seen that can hold accessories, as well as varying cases for smaller devices.
All of this said, after around six months of use, the case loosened somewhat, and became slightly easier to live with. I'd still prefer my old case back however!
---- NAVIGATION, TRAFFIC, MAPS AND SPEED CAMERAS ----
After around 24 months of use, I can confidently say this sat-nav is accurate in terms of arrival times and distances. On a recent 175 mile trip to Wales, my GO 6000 was spot on with arrival times and traffic - no issues.
The speed at which it finds your route is better than any sat-nav I have used before. I just performed a speed test. From the main map screen through to it having properly started navigating me for a 100 mile journey, took exactly 20 seconds. That included me typing in the address. The destination was new to the sat-nav, and was not stored in my favourites, or as they are now called 'Places'. Re-routing is fast. Not instant, but an average of 2-5 seconds and it realises what's going on. On previous models I have experienced lag round corners and roundabouts where it thinks I'm still an exit behind. Even while driving at speed, the GO series of sat-navs keeps up on the majority of occasions.
- THINGS YOU CAN DO TO YOUR CURRENT ROUTE -
- Clear route
- Find alternative
- Avoid blocked road (yes sports fans, it's finally here - not that I've ever needed it!)
- Avoid toll roads and more
- Add stop to route
- Add to my routes (save the route to your favourites effectively)
- Change route type (fastest, shortest, eco, avoid motorways, walking, cycling)
- Reorder stops
- Drive to route
- Play route preview (watch a sped-up version of your upcoming route)
- Show instructions
When arriving at a destination, it informs you of which side of the road the address is on and where the house number is. It is either exact, very close, or wildly off. When tested against Google Maps on my phone however, I get very similar results, with certain house number/road name combinations confusing it massively. On the whole, it is generally rather close to the house number you have entered.
- TRAFFIC -
TomTom in my opinion and experience provide better traffic updates than any other manufacturer. As mentioned previously, with all of the GO sat-navs, you get lifetime (the lifetime of the product) traffic for free. Can't complain. You again have the option of it automatically re-routing you, asking you what to do, or just ploughing on into known traffic.
- MAPS -
You now get lifetime (of the product) free map updates which results in at least four downloads a year.
As mentioned above, with the new X10/X100 models, you get lifetime world maps.
- SPEED CAMERAS -
On the entry-level range, as well as the older X00/X000 models, you get three months free speed cameras, at which point you can either try and spot those yellow ******** built deliberately behind trees with your own eyes, or pony up £20/year. Logically, £20 is a lot less than what you would pay having got caught. Fine, points, insurance boost etc. But that's how they get you; there are other options. I use a combination of TomTom speed cameras in my GO sat-nav, alongside my phone running the app 'CamerAlert', with the database from the guys at PGPSW; which from memory is a similar price.
With the new X10/X100 models, you now get lifetime speed cameras - a very handy addition, and something which I think it only fair when you're spending so much on a stand alone device.
---- LAYOUT & FEATURES ----
At launch, the GO series was lacking a huge amount of features compared to its rivals; it was the very large, very pink, elephant in the room. I never really cared though, as they were features I never used. I fully realise that many, many people will have strong opinions about certain missing features, but at the end of the day, that's why there's more than one company that makes sat-navs. TomTom has decided that this is the direction they wish to take their company, so either hop-on-board, or jump-ship.
Below is a non-exhaustive list in no particular order (broken into twos for ease of reading), of things I like, things I don't like, and things I think you may find helpful, regarding the layout and features:
-- The navigation screen is super clean. No clutter. That's good. To the point where you find yourself looking for things. That's not so good. Only recently has the clock found its way to the navigation screen, and this is ONLY when you actually have a route input. If you're just driving around without a route, then no time is visible. This probably isn't a huge issue for most, but I regularly use this device in a vehicle where the clock has been removed, so the option of having a clock on at all times would be nice.
-- There is also no battery meter on the main screen, irrelevant of whether or not a route has been plotted or if the device is charging. It's simply not there. You must press the four little dots at the bottom left to go to the main menu to see your battery. If you are charging the device, then you can't actually see how much of a charge is remaining, without unplugging the sat-nav. Over a year ago I suggested that the vertical cylindrical shaped icon on the navigation screen for the + and - zoom buttons could simply be filled (transparently) up with colour when the battery is full, and have the colour slowly drain down when the battery does. Simple, effective, no extra clutter, and it would look great. A while ago a TomTom employee commented and said it was a good idea, but it obviously gained no traction, so don't hold your breath.
-- Another battery related issue is that no matter how good the wired connection is, at times (through either a slightly faulty wire or a nudge with my knee), the device stops charging. If you're staring intently at the screen, then this is shown with the screen getting slightly darker. If you're not looking at the screen (which chances are, you won't be!), then it's basically impossible to tell. Meaning the sat-nav can die part way through a long journey as it hasn't been charging for hours. I'd like a visual and/or auditory (user selected) warning, letting me know that the device has been unplugged. Something that means that either immediately as it's unplugged, or when I glance at it 5 mins later, it's clear that it's not charging!
-- With the new (as of 27/06/14) 'dynamic route bar', you can now have both the remaining time and distance, showed at the same time. Finally! This is only available if you actually activate the dynamic route bar from within the settings, which simply put, makes it wider. It's still transparent, so you're not really losing any of your screen real estate. If you choose to have the thinner route bar, then you can't view the remaining time/distance at the same time. You are instead forced to choose between one, or have them change every three seconds. Which is not only a personal hate of mine, but also difficult to understand at a glance. They have improved it by having 'mi' or 'min' now displayed in a contrasting white colour, which makes it easier to read, but still. At a glance it's easy to confuse them, which makes you stare at it for three straight seconds, which could create some issues! My advice (if you're just using the thinner, non-dynamic route bar) is to have it on time remaining only. The distance until the next hazard/traffic/roadworks etc is already on the screen inside the route bar. If you're lucky enough to have a clear run, this will be your total remaining mileage.
-- Typing in addresses is finally enjoyable. The speed at which the letters respond to your touch is just (fractionally) shy of the iPhone 6 Plus (my only real benchmark), which is far better than any sat-nav I've owned in the past. Gone are the days when you had to enter the city first. Just type in the road name, and boom, it sorts it out.
-- As far as I can tell you still can't change the actual map colours. However, with the new (as of 27/06/14) 'Accent Colours' setting, you can change the colour of your route, your current position arrow, and a few highlights dotted around all the menus. I like the way the maps look, especially now I can have a bright green line showing my route, it stands out and looks good. Simple.
-- Pinch to zoom is good. Not on the same level as the iPhone 6 Plus, but it's getting there; slowly.
-- Your current speed goes orange if slightly over the speed limit, and red if 5mph or more over. You can also decide if you want the sat-nav start making aggressive noises if you're driving too fast!
-- You can now reorder the items on the main menus. A handy addition, as some items on page one I was never going to use, so they very quickly got relegated.
-- The navigation screen goes from day to night mode automatically at a certain time of day (I think relating to the sunset time, but I could be mistaken). This is a feature I really enjoy.
-- There is only one voice that comes standard that is capable of reading aloud street names. There are many other voices however.
-- A fairly recent addition is the voice control. There are two ways of getting the TomTom to start listening to you; 1) Go the main menu and press 'Voice Control'; 2) Say, "Hey, TomTom". Once the sat-nav is listening to you, you can tell it to do practically anything. My issue is with the "Hey, TomTom" feature. With this feature turned on, the sat-nav is constantly listening, waiting for you to say the magic words. Saying "Hey, TomTom", is all well and good, but on a recent 2hr journey, it kept thinking I was saying it, when I was actually just listening to the radio. After half a dozen wrongful activations, I got fed up and switched it off. Not a massive issue for me, as I've never got on with voice control on any device; so it's an added feature that I'm sure many will love, but I'll happily keep off.
* As of software version 15.202, you can now choose your own wake-up phrase to activate the voice control. I don't like voice control, so haven't even tried this!
-- Another fairly recent addition is the sat-nav can read aloud warnings. So instead of just beeping, it will beep and shout at you to warn you of an approaching speed camera for example.
-- You can turn screen touch sounds on or off - I actually rather like them on.
-- From the main navigation screen, you can FINALLY, at-a-glance see if Live services have dropped out. A much needed feature, as annoyingly, it drops out more than I'd like - resetting the sat-nav quite often solves this, but again annoyingly, not always.
-- Tapping on your current-location arrow, brings up a quick menu allowing you to; report speed camera, mark location, change speed limit or avoid blocked road.
-- In 2D mode, tapping the highlighted route brings up another route-specific quick menu, allowing you to; clear route, find alternative route, change route type, add stop to route, manage route. Recently I had around a dozen different addresses to attend all within the same medium-sized city. I plugged them all in, by tapping on the current highlighted route, and clicking 'add stop to route'. These were in the wrong order, so after inputting them all, I selected 'reorder stops'. This brings up a very clear 2D map showing where you are, and every stop that you have inputted. You simply tap them in the order you wish to visit, ending up with your finish location. It's super quick, and super easy. I was seriously impressed.
-- Alternative routes. I like this a lot. You get to see the good old fashioned three route option, showing you how much longer the extra two routes will take.
-- As of software version 15.202, you can now import your own POI files into your sat-nav. These have to be .ov2 format. This is accomplished through the MyDrive software on your computer.
---- CONNECTING DEVICE TO VARIOUS THINGS ----
The main issue I had was to discover the computer didn't recognise the sat-nav when it was sat in the window-mount, even though it registered as charging. Plug the micro-USB directly into the sat-nav and it connects to the computer straight away. I added my new device into my old TomTom account with very little trouble at all.
When I first bought this sat-nav, you synced/updated it via the MyDrive website. Now you have MyDrive software that you download onto your PC/Mac. I've been using it for quite a few months, and it's been fine - no issues.
The biggest change for me, and only just (May/June 2015) introduced, is a cloud connection to MyDrive. What this means that I can go onto my Mac, go to the MyDrive website, and after logging in, see everything as if it was my sat-nav. I can see the map, I can see live traffic info, I can plan routes, I can save routes, I can add to and edit `My Places' (my favourites list on the sat-nav) - I can do pretty much anything. Once I've planned a route, I can click `send to my device', and within 10 seconds (if my sat-nav is on; or within a minute or two of switching it on at a later date) the route appears on the device. Simple, effective, and it actually works! Already available in the US, and soon to be available here in the UK, a MyDrive app will enable you to do all of these things, but from my smartphone, on the go. This means that instead of having to get the sat-nav off the window mount to enter an address, you can just type it into your phone, and send it to your device - very cool!
---- CONCLUSION ----
This has been a ridiculously long review, and if you've made it this far I applaud you, as well as apologise. I do hope you've found it helpful!
The TomTom GO series of sat-navs is definitely an acquired taste. In my opinion this is what the first dedicated Apple sat-nav would be like. Attractive, minimalistic, speedy, with very few options for customisation. For what I require it to do, it does it, practically flawlessly. I can't remove stars for features that I wouldn't use, and for that reason, I initially gave it 4 stars, (now upgraded to 5 stars as explained below).
In the two years I've used this device, the impressively regular software updates has meant that I'm raising this review to 5 stars. They have listened to the community as a whole, and provided updates that we've asked for. Yes, there are still little niggles that I'd like them to sort out (for example the option of having a clock and battery bar permanently on the main map screen), but on the whole, it's the best sat-nav I've ever used.
Parts of this review may come across as a little negative, so let me say this - I love my TomTom GO. It's an intuitive, helpful, speedy, intelligent, impressive and downright beautiful navigation device that would look at home on any windscreen. The decision to purchase, as with most things, but even more so with these devices, is a very personal one. Simply put, it will either suit your needs or it won't. In which case I'd suggest you look at older TomToms or even show your distaste by giving a Garmin a go. Say that quickly over and over again. I dare you.
Would I recommend this product to a friend? Yes, needs dependent
If lost/damaged would I repurchase product? Yes
✓ Beautiful screen
✓ Premium look and feel
✓ Window mount
✓ Traffic is best around
✓ Route planning accuracy and speed
✓ Ease of use
✓ Typing speed
✓ Handy features that are easy to use
✓ Regular software updates
CONS (not necessarily for me):
✗ Lack of features compared to previous devices
✗ Placement of time and battery indicator and other fairly basic stuff
- Check to see if you can live without the missing features
I hope you found this review helpful. If you have any questions regarding this product, feel free to leave comments down below - I'm happy to help...