The GPS market has really been heating up the last couple years. More and more companies are coming out with their own products and they all do something different. TomTom is a recent addition to the GPS scene. They are big in Europe, but new in the USA.
- Maps of Europe, the USA and Canada on hard disk
- Built-in Mp3 player
- Clear spoken instructions, including street and place names
- 20 Gb (12 Gb free) of hard disk
- Remote Control
- 4” LCD touchscreen
If you have used one driving GPS you have used them all, right? Wrong. While TomTom does a lot of the same things as others, it also does many different.
First of all, the GO 910 comes with maps of the USA, Canada and Europe. Most other GPS only come with the maps of the country they were bought in. Second, the GO 910 speaks several different languages. In fact the TomTom GO 910 speaks 36 languages and has over 50 different voices and can even announce street and place names. The user interface can be displayed in 22 languages and the Text-to-speech feature works in 8 languages. The GO 910 also has a 4″ screen which is bigger than other driving GPS devices.
Several companies are adding extra features to their higher end devices. One of those features is an MP3 player. While this may seem nice, it really is not that useful. First of all if you have a lot of MP3’s, then you probably already have an MP3 player. In addition, most new cars come with hookups for MP3 players and the GO 910 only has one speaker. A headphone jack is also a feature that is being added so you can listen to the MP3’s. Considering that it is illegal in most states to have headphones on while driving, and the GPS is to big to fit in your pocket you probably won’t use this feature. If you don’t have an MP3 player and your car has a MP3 player plug, then you could use the line out plug on the GO 910 to attach it to your stereo so you can hear your directions and music through your cars speakers.
Voice prompting is great. This is also a big must for driving. You don’t want to have to always be looking at the screen to see when your next turn is, so the device will give you prompts. When your on the freeway it will start by telling you when you are about 800 yards from your turn, and then when you need to exit. When your on a normal road you get a warning at about 700 yards and again at 400 yards and finally when you need to turn. This model has all announcements made in a male or female voice, and in many different languages.
The TomTom GO 910 also has 20 Gb (12 Gb free) of hard disk, enough for 1000’s of songs and pictures; however, as I mentioned before, you are unlikely to use this for listening to music. You may use it for pictures because of the nice 4″ screen, but certainly not while you are driving, it would be unsafe.
The GO 910 can also act like a hands free calling device. There are actually quite a few features that rely on the use of a cell phone. Some of those features include real time weather, traffic, and traffic camera locations. The only requirement is that your phone has Bluetooth, but it also helps if your phone is one that TomTom has already done the configuration for; otherwise you will have to go through some fairly complicated setups. I have a Treo 650 and while that is one they have already setup, they did not have my carrier. So they wanted me to go through all the setups to get it to work. I never had time to do it all so I did not get to test the real time features. You can check for compatibility with your phone here.
This model also has a Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery. It can plug into a car with a 12-24V DC vehicle adapter. The battery is nice because you can take the GO 910 with you and plan your routes before you get in your car. The battery offers up to 4 hours of continuous use, which isn’t a lot, but it gives you enough time to setup a few routes and destinations.
There is even a remote control that you can use to control the GPS from a distance, like the back seat of a car.
The TomTom GO 910 is bigger and heavier than other GPS devices I have tested. It makes it more difficult to carry it around. You would never fit this into your pocket. It mounts on your windshield with the included mount. If you want to mount it to the windshield then you simply suction the mount to the window. The screen is larger than other GPS devices that I have reviewed. This screen gives you plenty of space to see it from a greater distance and also interact with the touch screen. It is not just the screen that makes it easy to interact with. The software is also very well done. The buttons are big enough to press, but not so big that they get in the way. When you look at the map screen the buttons are out of the way and no information is repeated so it does not take up extra space. There is also a single speaker so the device can talk to you.
The front of the GO 910 has the screen which is touch sensitive so that you can interact with the device and a black button. I originally thought the button was for turning it on and off, but rather it is for releasing the dock. That is an odd place to put a dock release. To the left of the release button is a microphone and a power light. The microphone is for using the hands free calling features.
On the back top of the GO 910 is the speaker, power button, and light sensor. The light sensor detects the outside light so the GO 910 can switch between day and night colors.
The back bottom is where you dock the GPS to either the windshield mount or the home dock. The thing that I don’t like about the dock setup is that all the connectors are on the window dock. I don’t like this because you cannot use headphones and you cannot charge it without the dock. Since you won’t carry the dock around with you, you will never use it for listening to music outside of your car or home. If you happen to lose the dock you are really out of luck because a new one is going to cost you, and you cannot hardly use it with out the dock. Inside of the docking area is a small reset button.
On the left side of the dock are the headphone and microphone jacks. On the right, from left to right, is the external antenna, power and TomTom connectors.
The remote is simple, it has only a few buttons, but none of them are labled. The user guide gives you a map to the buttons functions, but you have to either keep the guide with you or memorize the functions.
Navigating with the GO 910 is not difficult at all. In fact, I never once used the user manual. When you first turn on the GO 910 it will ask you some questions. You answer them by pressing the answers on the screen. Once that is done you will be presented with the first menu screen. This menu will allow you to plan your first trip. When you press the “Navigate too..” button the next screen will ask you where you want to go. After you select that, you will be asked to enter in the cities name. Just above the keyboard city names will appear as you type. When you see your citie’s name, just press it to go onto the next screen. The next screen is the same except you type in your street name and then street address. Once all the information is in it will calculate your route and show the directions.
The first thing I noticed when I planned a route was that my neighborhood was not in any of the maps. This was a bit odd for me because I have lived in the same house for six years. So either the maps are six years old or they just don’t have my neighborhood. They also did not have the neighborhoods in the immediate area, which are also between 4 and 6 years old. It makes me worry, because anyone looking for my house would not be able to find it. Because of that I could not recommend it to anyone in my family. I asked them about this, but they conviently did not return my email. In order to update the maps on the TomTom GO 910 you have to purchase them for around $100, but all prices are shown in Euros until you view your shopping cart.
If you are moving it takes longer to find your current location and calculate a route. It can take as long a 40 seconds if you are moving and as little as 1 second if you are stationary. You should be stopped when you first create a route. It may take an even longer time to find your location if you turn off your GPS in one location, and don’t turn it on again until you move away.
As you move along the route the GO 910 will keep you informed about how far you are away from your next turn. The notices come at different intervals depending on if you are on a freeway or on a street. On a freeway your first prompt will come at about 800 yards out. You will be reminded of the exit again right before you need to exit. On a street you will be prompted at different intervals. I got prompts at 700, 500, 400 and 300 yards. If two turns are really close together it gives you both in the same audio.
Sounds are not the only indicator that you get when you are approaching your turn. The screen also has information about your location and how far away you are from your turn and destination. In addition to the map which has a big red line marking your route, there is also a series of numbers under the map which indicate the distance to the next turn, the time to destination, the direction to destination and your current distance from your destination. If you give the GO 910 a time that you would like to arrive, then it will tell you if you are behind schedule.
If you happen to make a wrong turn, the GO 910 will recalculate the route and tell you the best way to get to your destination, most of the time it will just tell you to turn around and go back to where you made your wrong turn. It is possible that you go so far off track that it will recalculate a completely new route. If you keep going the wrong way then it will continue to recalculate so that it can keep up with your current location.
No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t get lost while I had the TomTom GO 910 with me. Except for my neighborhood and the others around me, the GO 910 had all the other destinations that I was looking for. The areas it didn’t have were just blank, and the GO 910 did not recalculate until I approached a road it knew about.
One of the nicest things about the GO 910 is how smooth the movement is. On other GPS devices the screen updates about once every second. This makes the screen jumpy as you drive. With the GO 910 it updates much more often so the map is very smooth as you drive.
One other thing that can get kind of annoying is the windshield mount. Because it only has one hinge and you are not able to tighten it the GPS can move around. On more than one occasion the GO 910 ended up facing down after a bit of driving, especially after hitting a bump or two in the road.
|TomTom GO 910 in action|
Warranty and Support
The GO 910 comes with a two year warranty. This is better than other GPS devices, but still a bit shabby. A GPS like this with no moving parts should last a lot longer and the warranty should reflect that. Also, because they have not returned my emails about my neighborhood not being in the maps I can only conclude that their support is also not the best. In addition, having to pay for updated maps does not look good for the long term support of this device. It could end up costing you several hundred more dollars just to keep it up-to-date.
I am really impressed with the interface on the TomTom GO 910. It is up-to-date and very user friendly. I especially like the way the map movement is very smooth. The warranty is also better than other GPS devices. The only complaint is the maps. Because my neighborhood was not in the maps I can only assume that other neighborhoods will also not be in the maps. Because of this I cannot recommend this device. Maps are the most important part of the whole device. I can do without hands free calling, different languages, and fancy interfaces, but without good maps I cannot find my destination. Also, the fact that TomTom makes you pay for updated maps is a big negative. If you are not as concerned about maps as I am, then you should do just fine with this device. If you are concerned about maps, but not the interface then I recommend that you look at the Magellan line of GPS devices. These have had my neighborhood and the others around me since they were built. As always compare prices before purchasing.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|