TomTom Navigation Units
The TomTom navigation story began in 2002 with the release of the TomTom Navigator, which ran on Windows CE software on PDA devices. Since that time, TomTom has been at the forefront of real-time GPS navigation. With ten versions of TomTom units available it might be hard to decide which one is best. Is it the TomTom GO 630 that offers IQ mapping technology and the option to download celebrity voices to give you turn-by-turn instruction? Perhaps you are one of the tech hounds that wants the latest greatest model, in this case the TomTom GO 910.
Looking into the differences in the TomTom units reveals that there is almost no difference in the hardware between similar models. The real changes are in the software so if you are experienced in upgrading firmware you may be able to get all of the added functionality of the 910 unit without having to purchase it – simply upgrade the software. TomTom suggests keeping your software up to date but does not offer free unit upgrades. Finding a patch or hack to perform a software upgrade is just a matter of a quick Google search.
Some units are different enough in the hardware department that this cannot be done. Take for example the TomTom XL 340 S. This touchscreen unit has a fully different hardware set than the 630 or 1435 but the low price point more than makes up for the lack of upgrade. Just look at the features; easy to use plug & play device, great maps with easily modification functionality, the best routing technology including maps of United States, Canada and Mexico with TomTom Share and step-by-step spoken street names, safety features such as ‘Help Me’ menu and added safety menus and IQ routing technology.
Units like the VIA 1505 and VIA 1535 offer amazing application arrays with more amenities than you’d ever expect to see in a GPS unit. The lane guidance system gives suggestions up to half a mile ahead of time so that there is no need for quick, knee jerk turns. Other apps like EcoRoutes and IQ Routes help to save on gas as well as reroute you to the best possible route to avoid traffic back-ups due to accidents or construction. The battery life and screen size on these units were increased from the 1400 series and, although a bit pricier, definitely are well worth the up charge.
A TomTom can be more than just a navigation unit to get you from place to place. The addition of peripherals makes this unit a hands free phone, an MP3 player and even a real time traffic monitor. A nice piece of auxiliary equipment for several TomTom units is the USB traffic receiver that delivers real time traffic data to your unit allowing it to recalculate routes based on traffic conditions.
A budget friendly option that is a great for Grads and Dads is the TomTom Ease. This aptly named device is not just friendly for the wallet but comes packed with all of the options a road warrior might need. The touchscreen interface offers two options instead of the clutter that other units often have. Of course, it is not without its drawbacks. The Ease has a paltry 3-inch screen that could cause some users to shy away from it even though they shouldn’t. The other downfall is the lack of micro SD input so any time you need to upgrade maps it has to be done through a PC connection. On the upside, other than a super simple interface there is a great text to speech interface and offers the IQ routing of the more expensive models. As far as entry-level units go, this one is top of the heap.