20GB iPod-friendly TomTom is GO

We’ll skip the lame jokes about finding yourself today, because for once something exciting’s occurred in sat-nav land. Our fevered state was induced

We’ll skip the lame jokes about finding yourself today, because for once something exciting’s occurred in sat-nav land.

Our fevered state was induced earlier today by being one of the first UK magazines to have a play with the GO 910, TomTom’s new hard drive-packing, iPod-loving widescreen sat-nav.

For plain old navigation, the neat bit is the widescreen. Although it’s only half an inch bigger than old GOs’ touchscreens, this one has a corking 480 x 272 resolution which – on the unit we saw – had a good viewing angle and was coping well with sun streaming in through the windows.

Other new titbits for A-B action include the most natural text-to-speech we’ve heard yet, so you get directed on to road names instead of generic ‘take the second lefts’. Magellan’s sat-navs have been doing it for a while, but TomTom’s sounded more intelligible in the demos we heard. Styling remains much the same as the old GOs iconic mini TV look, though the UK-based designers have made it a touch skinnier and wisely moved the mount from the bottom and hidden it round the back.

The music side of things is even more interesting. You get 16GB of free space for MP3s and JPEGs, proper browsing by artist, album and genre, plus a USB dock to transfer the stuff on there from your PC. Playback’s via an in-built speaker or an audio-out cable, but the new GO also supports Bluetooth A2DP to wirelessly play stereo music on the next generation of Bluetooth car stereo. Better still, this summer you’ll be able to retrofit any old stereo with a Bluetooth black box that TomTom is developing.

The iPod owners amongst us are catered for, too, with an optional Dock cable that takes control of the Pod, putting song selection, navigation, volume and the like on the sat-nav’s touchscreen.

Last but not least – and we’re skipping a whole lot of stuff here that we’ll talk about in next month’s mag – there’s Bluetooth phone and hands-free integration and some cool new PC software for loading new voices, maps, music and photos.

TomTom hinted the 910 will cost around £500 when it goes on sale in April. Around the same time, it’ll also be launching the 510 and 710 which feature the widescreen but lose the hard drive, MP3 player and US maps.

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