After some four years, and one warranty-voiding battery change, my trusty Tomtom GO 720 finally died. As it chose to do so on a morning that I needed to drive around central London, and not having a clue about navigating roads around central London, I decided to buy myself the latest model.
The Tomtom LIVE series comes in three flavours, the 550, 750 and 950. The only difference between them being the maps that are supplied out of the box and the size of internal memory, 1, 2 and 4G respectively. I do sometimes drive over on the continent so I chose the 750 which comes with maps for UK and western Europe. Opening the box in the car park and starting to use it, the annoyances appear quickly:
- The power/data connector is no longer USB at the Tomtom end (though a USB2-connecting lead is provided).
- The mount has changed rendering my current in-car mounting point useless.
Digging in to the box a bit more reveals the rather nice new windscreen-sucking mounting device. You press the back of the mount against the inside of the windscreen and turn a plastic collar, no more ring-prints where you’ve used a bit of spit or water to make the horrid old sucker mounts grip properly. Physically, the 750 is a tiny bit flatter and a tiny bit wider than the 720, quickly leading to the next annoyance: I can’t use my current protective case. Gone is the rubberised finish on the rear of the case, the 750 uses the same gunmetal grey plastic all the way round making it feel a bit less solid than the 720.
The 750 starts up noticeably faster than the 720 does and, if you’re near a set of speakers, you’ll hear a bit of interference (just like with a mobile phone) as the unit starts to get data coming in. This is of course the “LIVE” service replacing all the old style add-ins.
I find the unit to be sometimes unresponsive to screen presses, this seems to be mostly when the unit is just firing up. You’ll tap the screen and nothing happens, so you tap it again and a few seconds later both taps happen. This usually means you’ve now mistyped a postcode or city name. Once you get past these initial annoyances is when the 750 and the LIVE services start to shine.
I asked it to take from my current location (near Lakeside shopping centre) to Wells Street, just off Oxford Street. Calculating the route was somewhat slower than I’d usually expect, but then I understood why. One of the live services provides traffic information and the route plotted was calculated to be the fastest routing around such incidents where a more optimal route could be found. A thermometer-like bar on the right hand side of the display shows the number and type of delay on the chosen route, your distance until the next delay, and the total time the delays incur.
Setting off following the suggested route took me along the A13 into central London. At one point I was prompted that a faster route had been found saving 7 minutes and would I like to divert onto it, I answered yes and flicking through the options at the next convenient red light, I configured it to always divert onto a faster route where one was found.
The display manages to cram a lot of information into a small space without losing clarity. Mounted just below the rear view mirror, I rarely had to spend more than a half-second glancing at the screen to understand what the next maneuver was going to be. There’s more granular detail provided and also a useful button to flip between a 3D and 2D view; You used to have to dig around in the option menu to do this on the 720. As with the 720 the spoken directions are clear, concise and timely though I found the mispronunciations of place and street names too distracting to leave on.
I found one nice feature by accident: the 750 understands average speed cameras. One of my very regular journeys is from RM3 to E17 which takes me anticlockwise round the M25 from J28 to J27. Currently this is nearly entirely all roadworks due to the widening scheme, all covered under average speed cameras. The Tomtom 750 bleeped at me when I strayed over the speed limit while within this zone. Neat. What what have been neater is if it told me what my average speed was since entering the zone.
After a week or so of use, overall I’m very happy with the 750. The LIVE subscription is not inexpensive but I can see the time saved will make this worthwhile assuming quality of data is maintained. I’m surprised a “keep your maps up to date” offer wasn’t included as part of the bundle as this would have been as easy sell to me. I think this is a wonderful little device and I’m confident some of the quirks will be addressed in future software and firmware versions. If you drive often to places you’re not intimate with, this is worth the expense.