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Good mapping but inadvisable routes (in Portugal)
on 31 October 2013
This has proved to be far and away my most disappointing electronics purchase of the year. Based on the lifetime free updates availability and the fact that this unit is five years more up to date than the solid and reliable TomTom GO 920 it replaced, I expected a major improvement in all areas. In return, I got a whole set of colourful new maps, but irrational and at times extremely dangerous route suggestions, inexplicable loss of selected journeys planned well in advance and a not very assuring voice that consistently fails to pronounce the names of roads and towns correctly. Unfortunately, none of these shortcomings can be remedied with changes to any of the settings. Believe me, I've tried.
The good part is that the screen display is clear and attractive. The biggest downside of this is that it's tempting to look at the screen too often whilst driving, rather than rely on the voice that accompanies it. Fans of TomTom's very own Jane will miss her calming tones very much, as I do. Every available alternative speaker sounds like a computer generated voice, whether it is or not. As I say, the place names invariably sound wrong, but perhaps that is forgivable because I do live in Portugal and speak only English myself. The trouble is, a simple "turn left" isn't an available option, which is plainly ridiculous to my way of thinking.
Far and away the worst fault with the device is that it typically sends me on narrow, winding roads rather than down dual carriageways and other main roads when these are readily available. My very first excursion in a brand new motor vehicle resulted in the car leaving the tarmaced surface altogether because of the lack of width on the occupied carriageway. On another occasion, I specifically asked to avoid toll roads altogether and yet after a promising start, was repeatedly urged to take slip-roads onto one in particular. It seems that the most notorious and expensive toll road in the whole of Portugal isn't known to Garmin as such. This despite the huge number of French visitors to the south of the country during the summer months. I also believe that Garmin has very little idea about the hierarchy of road number prefixes in Portugal. Perhaps the UK system won't present a similar problem, I really don't know.
Worryingly, I've also begun journeys with a preset destination only to find the unit struggle to obtain sufficient satellite signal strength and then finally send me towards a place I chose a week earlier. On one occasion, I got extremely frustrated after re-inputting the desired outcome to find this destination had been tagged onto a previous journey, which apparently my Garmin assumed hadn't been completed yet.
All in all, this item is clearly not a piece of rubbish, but its behaviour is so hard to predict that the only way I can tell if it is probably going to point me in the right direction is by comparing results with Google Maps. I'm not exaggerating, by the way.