Great Hardware Marred by Poor Map Routing
Aug 12, 2004 (Updated Sep 10, 2004)
Review by tdi1
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:fast, accurate satellite lock, quick map redraws, great sound, touchscreen
Cons:price, durability(?), reflective screen, UNACCEPTABLE MAP ACCURACY
The Bottom Line: Easy to use and convenient. Unfortunately, poor map accuracy ruins an otherwise excellent package.
Recommend this product?
I have now used the TomTom GO for a full month for extensive navigation around Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Unfortunately, I have to downgrade my recommendation because of unacceptable map routing.
I have used the Delorme Street Atlas products for many years and have been very satisfied with the routing accuracy on that system. Unfortunately, TomTom uses a different source for map data that appears to be both incorrect and in need of updating.
For example, when driving my son to college in New Brunswick, NJ, it told us to take a turn across a field! There was about 10ft of pavement remaining of an old road at that location but that's it.
Another blaring error greets me every time I drive home. My driveway is shown as a street and the remaining mile of roads in my 50 year old development aren't even shown.
I could deal with a few map exclusions, but to further exacerbate matters, the navigation directions given based on the map data are often incorrect. For example, at a 'T' intersection that required a left turn, the TomTom told me to go right then do a U-turn 100 yards down the road!
In a similar situation, it took me to an intersection then told me to take a left turn. Unfortunately, that intersection doesn't allow left turns so I had to drive all around the neighborhood trying to find a way back to my destination.
Another problem that I have found deals with the search for locations. When typing in an address, you have to have the exact city region selected or the TomTom will not find the address.
At first, this may seem to make sense. However, most cities are broken up into numerous sub-regions. If a street runs through various sub-regions, and you don't know exactly which one you should be in, you have to try them all, one-by-one. TomTom should have given options to search the current map region or regions neara given city for an address. As it stands, often I have to use my Delorme software on my desktop computer to find a location, then manually find that on the TomTom. This is a big problem when you're on the road and trying to find an unknown address.
Finally, I would suggest a new option for the map display - when you have points of interest displayed, there should be a way of seeing the names of the POI's without having to use another menu and pull up the list of POI's nearby. For example, when looking for a restaurant in a neighborhood, I'd just like to be able to glance at the map and see its name. As it is, you have to program in the POI as a destination, otherwise, you just see generic restaurant icons on the map.
Numerous errors in the map data are causing the unit to actually pose a danger to me while driving because they tell me to make illegal turns or go in the wrong direction, therefore I can no longer recommend the package. This is unfortunate because I truly love the hardware design and user interface. Should they update the map data and routing functions, I would gladly give the unit my highest recommendation, but until then I suggest you look elsewhere for a navigator.
Interestingly, version 4.40 of the software has become available that has some nice additions. I tried viewing several routes that gave the navigator problems recently and somehow, they are routed differently, so I may be updating this review yet again after testing the upgrade. Stay tuned!
(Original review follows)
Having used both full-fledged computer and hand-held GPS systems for many years, I questioned whether I really "needed" another unit for my car. So I made sure I could return the TomTom Go should it not prove to be significantly better than what I already have.
After just a few hours of use, I was sold! This unit is much more convenient than trying to use my laptop in the car. Additionally, it's much less distracting and hence SAFER, since you can mount it right on your windshield and quickly peer at it while driving. Can't do that very well with a laptop!
I had also considered getting a PDA with GPS software, as that would be several hundred dollars less expensive. However, the single-box solution of the GO unit makes it a hands-down winner for convenience.
In The Box
The supplied unit comes with a powerful and easy to use suction cup mount, AC and car power adapters, a USB cable, a 256MB memory card and the software. Construction looks good, though it doesn't look rugged. Had I designed it, I probably would have put a rubber layer around the plastic.
The display is very clear. While it suffers some in bright sunlight, in a normal car environment, it is easy to see as long as the sun doesn't shine right on it. The screen is highly reflective though, so that reflections are a problem. By tilting the unit down a bit, one can greatly reduce the annoying reflections, however it should have been designed with a matte screen to avoid this problem in the first place.
Map displays can be done in bird's eye (conventional map view) or "3D". The 3D version is good for those who are map-impaired. However, I wouldn't really call it 3D. It's really just a 2D map tilted.
Screen update is fast. As you turn and move, the map updates in essentially real-time. This is a great improvement from other small units I've used where the screen update is painfully slow.
Maps & Mapping
Software comes on 8 CDs. It would have been nice to have a single DVD, but I guess that isn't a mainstream option yet. These CDs contain the detailed map and POI (point of interest) data for the entire US. My unit came with the software and the base USA maps pre-installed on the memory card. I then installed my regional detailed maps and filled most of the remaining memory.
Initial tests show that a satellite lock is achieved from cold start in under a minute. Later warm startups are very fast, typically about 10 seconds though it has taken up to 30 seconds to lock. I typically turn it on when I first get in the car and let it lock while I get ready to go. Then, it's ready as soon as I start driving. What a pleasure to use!
The supplied detail maps are as good as the PC mapping software I use, though the did have the house numbers at the wrong places on my road. Hopefully this isn't indicative of the routing of the entire map.
On The Road
On an initial test of the unit, I drove from home to a favorite restaurant. The unit took us there using a good route. Directions were very clearly spoken and the screen clearly visible.
Coming home, we took an alternate route to try to confuse the routing. At each optional route, the GO unit correctly identified alternate roads and tried to route us down those. We passed several, then finally took the route that we often use and it automatically corrected the route and took us home without a glitch.
After just a few hours of use, I feel that there is no way I'd return the unit. The software is simple and pretty easy to use, but best of all, the unit does what it is supposed to extremely well. I am 100% happy with this purchase.
Read all comments (4)
Share this product review with your friends