Hardware review: TomTom GO 720

I’ve long been thinking of replacing my trusty 2005 edition of Microsoft
Autoroute with something a little more exciting. So, a couple of weeks ago, I
picked up a TTG 720 from my local Currys. Inside the box you get the unit
itself, a combined charger and USB cradle, a manual, a CD-ROM containing the
TomTom HOME application and a sucker mount to attach to your windscreen.

The unit starts pretty quickly and, in the car park at Bluewater, almost
instantly picked up a couple of satellites, supporting up to a maximum of 12.
The interface is very very intuitive, I’ve not yet had to remove the manual
from its shrink-wrap. Plotting a route is a matter of a few taps on the screen
and the supplied postcode database has been more than sufficient to get me to
almost all of the places I’ve needed to go so far.

I quickly adapted to driving with the unit, the large clear display means you
need to do no more than flick your eyes for a second to see what the road
layout is around you. The supplied voices are more than adequate, spoken
directions are clear and unambiguous. The unit varies the notice it gives you
of a direction change depending on the speed you’re travelling at. At motorway
speeds you’ll be warned of an exit you need to take about 2 miles in advance.
At urban speeds, it’ll start instructing you a few hundred meters away.

Dynamic route recalculation works very well. I deliberately took the wrong
route once or twice, sometimes turning onto a one way street. The unit quickly
recalculated the best route and steered me back on track. When driving on the
M40 in heavy traffic I asked the unit to find an alternative route that avoided
the M40. It directed me off the motorway at the next exit, onto the A404 and
then along to the M4 to continue my trip towards London. You can subscribe to
TomTom’s traffic service which, using your mobile phone, will check for traffic
problems and try to route you around them. I have not yet tested this service

The TomTom HOME software allows you to update your unit, getting new maps, new
points of interest and map updates from the Internet. I found the version
supplied with the unit to be incredibly buggy. Luckily there was a newer
version available which has fixed many of the issues I noticed. It still does
have the annoying habit of crashing with unhelpful errors from time to time,
this seems to be related to connectivity issues to TomTom’s website.

It’s not totally perfect, there are some interface annoyances. For example,
you can’t disassociate a mobile phone from the unit without first enabling
bluetooth. Overall I’m very pleased with the unit, it does exactly what it
says on the tin.