Pared down and powered up, TomTom's latest Go Live 1000 shuns the often frivolous features of other sat-navs and concentrates on navigation essentials.

If you want eye-catching extras try the Navigon's 8450 Live and its City View 3D feature. Or if it's a dashboard adornment with designer style, go no further than Garmin's nuvi 3970T.

But if it’s accurate directions, handy Live services and the potential for third-party apps you want, the Go Live 1000 is currently the finest sat-nav on the planet.

Basic view

There really are few embellishments here in either looks or features. TomTom has left that to other people: by porting its UI over to the same Webkit back-end that makes the iPad's browser so fast, third-party software add-ons should be easy to develop and available over time.

For TomTom's part, though, it's trimmer than most of the company's sat-navs, but still a chunky piece of plastic. Once you're on the road, the mapping screen stubbornly sticks to the tried-and-tested third-person view down flat street outlines with occasional zooming for clarity.

Even the screen resolution is 'good enough' and no more. The 480x272 pixels it boasts are around a third the number of Garmin's nuvi 3970T.

Simple is best

But this really doesn’t matter. You can easily find your way with that screen, because it's bright and everything is clearly laid out. The capacitive touch screen is instantly responsive too.

That speed is helped by the respectable ARM 11 processor inside the Go Live 1000. Only the nuvi 3970T can rival it for performance when it comes to route calculation or quick movement through menus, and likewise has the processing punch to make entering destinations via voice recognition worth trying.

If there's a criticism, it’s that after the brilliant first layer of customisable menus it’s easy to get lost in the cascading branches of the decision tree. Trying to switch from normal routing to most economical is a journey through several screens, for example.

Going Live

The one extra feature worth talking about is TomTom's HD Traffic service. It works out where jams are by tracking the movement of mobile phones, and is one of the best Live services we’ve tested.

It’s not completely free, mind. You get it free for a year, then it’s a £50 subscription. But it’s a worthwhile investment if you rack up more driving miles than a Brighton-to-Glasgow commuter.     

And if you really, really can't live without a gimmick of some sort, then TomTom is still the only manufacturer to offer celebrity voices as optional downloads for its directions.

Brian Blessed is the latest to add his immortal tones to the TomTom catalogue, so don't be too surprised if you find yourself ordered to dive while flying blind on a rocket cycle next time you’re en route to Basingstoke.


Stuff says... 

TomTom Go Live 1000 review

Impressively fast and the Webkit for third-party apps could see things get really interesting