Some might have you believe that the rise of the GPS enabled mobile phone has sealed the fate of the beloved sat nav, perhaps leaving it with little more than the accolade for the shortest lifespan in tech history. But, is this really the case or is it simply over enthusiastic commentary?
Just as the camera equipped smartphone killed off sales of lower spec digital cameras, the downloadable navigation app has caused a stir among the lower spec class of dedicated devices. Such apps claim to offer many of the features found in dedicated devices, but are offered up on both the Apple and Android app markets for no more than 25% of the cost of a decent dedicated equivalent. Coming in at sub £40, that’s little more than the cost of a part worn replacement tyre.
However, feature rich stand-alone devices such as those found in the TomTom Live series still have their place. Such devices pack powerful additional features. Another advantage over the smartphone app is the upside of not having to interrupt your sat nav mid operation in order to take an incoming call, via your handsfree kit of course.
Focusing on mid range dedicated devices, I decided to take the TomTom GO 400 and the TomTom Start 60M for a test drive. It’s a battle of two class leading device each with their advantages and disadvantages, manufactured by one of the UK’s, and indeed the worlds, most popular sat nav brands.
TomTom GO 400 With UK, ROI & European Maps
Visually, the GO 400 is a radical redesign from the old hat TomTom I once had fixed to the windscreen of my 1-litre Peugeot, but the differences are even more apparent when you look at the spec sheet. The GO 400 boasts a 4.3 inch screen with pinch to zoom technology, speed camera alerts and 3D maps which allow you to view key buildings and landmarks in stunning 3D, it can also operate for up to two hours on a fully charged battery. Ready to hit the road straight out of the box, there’s no frustrating downloads, updates or registration required.
Overall the sat nav is an incredibly well refined device with it’s most notable feature being smartphone connectivity. Allowing live traffic information to be streamed directly to the device via a Bluetooth connection, the GO 400 does this by lending a network connection from your smartphone. My network provider confirmed such usage would be covered under my standard data allowance, although it’s best to check beforehand as it may not be the case with all networks.
The TomTom G0 400s real-time world-class traffic information enables you to pinpoint where traffic queues start and end, so you can easily plan the quickest route to your destination. There’s also advanced lane guidance which helps clearly identify the lane you should be in at busy motorway junctions. Meanwhile the inclusion of a three month TomTom speed camera subscription makes for a relaxed driving experience, providing on screen alerts for fixed speed camera locations and average speed zones.
With detailed maps covering 45 European countries, the GO 400 is an ideal choice for European roadtrippers and holiday makers alike. The device even comes with life-time map updates at no additional cost, so, there’s no hidden update or renewal fees to worry about in 12 months time, which going back a couple of years, was often the case.
The TomTom GO 400 has an RRP of £160, but can be picked up from the RAC Shop for £137.99.
TomTom Start 60 With UK Maps
As with the GO 400, the TomTom Start 60M is ready to use fresh out of the box, boasts two hours battery life and is easily secured to your windscreen via a suction cap. The Start 60M boasts a substantially larger screen than the one found in the GO 400, it’s a whopping 6-inches and HD enabled which makes for a noticeable difference to the on screen visuals. The largest and sharpest screen to ever feature in a TomTom device features bigger menus and buttons, overall it’s an incredibly user friendly device.
Equipped with TomTom speed camera alerts and reports from other users, the device allows you to flag camera locations on the move via a large round button on the user interface. It’s a smart little feature although every speed camera location I passed during my two week long test had already been flagged.
Other features include spoken street names and parking assist which both prove incredibly useful. Spoken street names ensures you keep your eyes firmly on the road rather than glued to your sat nav. Meanwhile parking assist aids you in navigating directly to the nearest car park, which proves invaluable in large cities.
The device comes with lifetime maps, which includes four or more full map updates every year. The updates are essential if you spend most of your time out on the road and cover the road network, addresses and points of interest. Unlike the Go 400, the Start 60M lacks European maps, that said if you don’t intend to drive across Europe it won’t be an issue.
The TomTom Start 60M has an RRP of £149.99, but can be picked up from the RAC Shop for £134.99.
Having not owned or even used a dedicated sat nav device for over a year now, I was genuinely impressed with the sheer quality and refinement of the kit available today. Both devices I tested had some fantastic features, the Start 60M with its large 6inch HD screen and the G0400 with its smartphone connectivity and world class traffic information. Overall the feature rich Go 400 stands out by a mile, it’s an impressive example of modern navigation, it’s the kind of kit that smartphone apps simply can’t compete with.
Competition – Win a brand new TomTom GO 400
Fancy getting your hands on a brand new TomTom GO 400 with an RRP of £160? Then, enter our free giveaway. To be in with a chance of winning this class leading device simply drop us a comment below. Also, be sure to retweet the competition link via the embedded tweet. For full T&C’s, click here.
— Latest UK Car News (@MotorPaper) April 15, 2014