The TomTom Go 910 is the most fully featured sat-nav we’ve ever taken onto the street. It boasts a 4inch widescreen, Bluetooth, iPod connectivity, text-to-speech and audiobook playback.
The cradle is easy to fix to the windscreen, but mating the TomTom to the cradle is at first surprisingly difficult given the simple hook-like appearance of the connection.
Once on, the TomTom takes up minimal window real estate – yes, it’s bigger because of the wide screen, but the neat cradle helps you tuck it away into a corner. Satellite detection from cold was less than a minute.
We’re aware that not everyone gets on with TomTom’s stylised, simplified maps, but the 910’s widescreen (WQVGA, 480x272 pixels) certainly makes the most of them. It’s bright and sharp, plus the device’s 400MHz processor has enough oomph to keep the refresh rate high even in 3D map mode.
The 20GB hard drive has pre-loaded maps of Europe, USA and Canada. Searching for your destination address will be utterly untaxing for anyone familiar with TomToms of days gone by, and mere child’s play for anyone else – as with previous Go products, all functions are accessed and controlled using the touchscreen and chunky software buttons.
The 910 has an excellent speaker, and the navigating voice was well sampled and clear. Text-to-speech tech means that it can also read out street names, further clarifying matters at busy junctions.
Traffic and speed camera data, downloaded by a Bluetooth connection to your phone, and then through your phone’s data connection, was useful. As with most of these devices, traffic warnings tended to be of the epic kind – simple urban rush-hour congestion was not registered. But you can manually set a detour in a moment. So, full marks for sat-nav, but what about those…
Despite all those maps, and also a 36-language voice database, the 910 still has 12GB free for you to load up with MP3s or Audible audiobooks. These you can play through the speaker, or connect to your car stereo via the audio out socket. Alternatively, you can buy the optional iPod cable, connect that to the 9109 and play your iPod music through your stereo, using the TomTom’s widescreen to choose what to play.
A Bluetooth connection to your mobile allows for the data download of traffic and speed info, and lets the 910 double as a handsfree – it has a microphone built-in.
By now, if you’ve got the audio cable, the iPod cable and the microphone cable all plugged into the cradle, you’ve undone all that clean, safe design work. Fortunately, there is also a remote control, so your passengers can look after changing tracks and fine-tuning the navigation.
The battery will last out for four hours and any journey so complex as to need constant nav for four hours means you’ll need a support truck, not just a 12v cable. Plus, there’s a home cradle that charges and provides PC connectivity for updates.
In conclusion, £500 is a lot of money for a stick-on-the-windscreen nav system. But the TomTom 910 is good. It’s well made, neatly designed, a pleasure to use and loaded with extras that you can use or ignore on a whim. And that makes it as essential as Haribo Tangfastics for any journey.