TomTom refuses to rest on its market-share laurels, and so we have another iteration of the best-selling and award-winning Go range. This 740 is the middle of three x40 versions, and gets UK and European maps. The 540 has UK maps, with the option to pick-and-mix European maps at extra cost. The range-topping 940 adds North American maps for the more serious globe-trotter.
Real-time traffic updates
The LIVE in the name refers to a SIM card built into the device that offers up some new functionality – real-time connection to TomTom’s new HD Traffic, as well as safety camera updates, Google Local Search services, such as added POIs and fuel prices. These services are free for three months from purchase, and £7.99 a month thereafter.
HD Traffic works with TomTom’s IQ Routes tech and identifies potential problems along your route based on actual data from people travelling along those roads (data that TomTom gleans from mobile phone networks) combined with the usual traffic data providers, and historical time and day information.
So far, so promising – but does it work? Yes, and no. The system will quickly identify a traffic problem, displays it clearly, asks if you want to avoid it – and then leads you slam into the middle of it. That is, sometimes it avoids the worst of them, but at least twice in our testing in and around London, it simply announced that there was no faster way and this jam would only add ten minutes to the journey.
Dreams of it finding car-free highways for you are quickly dispelled. But, even that is better for your morale than sitting in a jam with no way of knowing if a clear route is nearby.
Go, Go Google
Google Local Search lets you quiz the internet for places or businesses more esoteric than usual embedded POI (point of interest) databases would have. It works well, returning a map and a phone number for almost everything we tried.
The fuel prices service lets you find your nearest and cheapest petrol station, and was accurate, although many smaller stations do not return prices.
The ease of use of the new LIVE services and the relatively affordable monthly fee will appeal to most users, but will be a no-brainer for long-distance or professional drivers.
New services apart, how is the 740 as a sat-nav? Unsurprisingly, very good. The device itself is slightly redesigned and looks smart, if not quite as classy as the x30 series. There’s a new more robust cradle, which feels solid.
You now plug the USB charger into it rather than straight into the device itself – there’s a proprietary connector. All this means is that you’ll need the cradle if you want to charge your TomTom away from your car, and away from the bundled TomTom Home PC-sync cradle.
The menus have been refreshed, with more sophisticated, but still clear, icons. Everything is easy to find, with optional pop-up tips to help you along. LIVE services are seamlessly activated and adjusted – they don’t feel like they’ve been bolted-on top the existing software.
There are over 100 voice commands, activated by tapping a single on-screen icon, which cover everything from changing the brightness to the oft-used ‘navigate to the nearest petrol station.’ In our Suzuki Swift Sport test car, we got about 90 percent success rate with voice commands, and you do get a chance to confirm or retry before the command is executed.
In a convertible or classic car, forget it. We do wish a hardware button or hot corner could activate the voice commands: the current on-screen button is too easy to miss.
Maps are, as ever with TomTom, very clear although the heavily stylised chunky maps do struggle slightly with complicated junctions, and the software sometimes opts to announce ‘bear right’ at what most people would consider a full ‘turn right’ situation. Or vice versa. But these minor criticisms that could be levelled at any sat-nav, and the TomTom Go is still the best of the bunch.