Ease of Learning: 4 / 5
Ease of Use: 4 / 5
Enjoyment: 3.5 / 5
Design: 4 / 5
Value for Money: 2.5 / 5
TomTom recently held a press lunch at the Old Biscuit Mill, where journalists were treated to some good food and a detailed presentation on what’s going on in the world of TomTom. We were shown some of the new products that TomTom will be offering, as well as a demonstration of the new “TomTom Gives You More” campaign, which arrives just in time for Christmas.
Some of the new products include the GoLive 1005, which boast a 5″ screen, and the Start 60 with a monstrous 6″ screen. The new Via 130 and 135 were also introduced. The Via 130 boasts a 4.3″ screen and the 135 a 5″ screen, with both units having a new function to help you to the nearest petrol station. However, the most interesting new product to me was the Nike+ Sportwatch with GPS support. This unit has GPS powered by TomTom and with the help of Android/Apple or PC apps, you can connect to the Nike+ community and download and review your results. It might also be worth mentioning that it looks incredibly stylish and feels robust.
A lot time was spent during their presentation assuring us that traditional GPS was not going anywhere and that sales numbers have actually increased yearly. In the same presentation, TomTom also declared that they now “do the Robot”. TomTom initially took the plunge into the digital word of smartphones with Apple exclusivity. Now, TomTom has spread the good GPS news to the world of Android too and the app can now be downloaded for R395. The base app offers TomTom’s IQ routes and offline maps. The advanced lane guidance is another nice feature and you can speak street names so that you can keep your eyes on the road.
Admittedly, this price is quite expensive, especially if you consider that TomTom’s HD traffic and Speed Cameras can only be accessed via in-app purchases, above and beyond the initial R395 outlay. That could make the costs escalate a lot more. Although this definitely puts the TomTom app above the stock Google Maps app (which can also now download off-line maps), you’d have to make your own mind up whether it’s at least R400 better.
TomTom also showcased their new smartphone mount. This mount addresses two of the most pressing issues when using your phone as a GPS device. Where to put the phone and how long the battery will last. This mount addresses both issues.
This mount can house just about any phone and could even fit Samsung’s new 5.3” huge Note II. It works in both landscape and portrait orientation with the phone. This makes it really handy if you are not using the phone as a GPS. The mount connects to the smartphone via the USB port and acts as a hands-free kit too. It also has a speaker as well as microphone that can be added to it. The mount can be used as the hands free controller even if the phone is not connected to it, as it pairs up to the phone via Bluetooth too.
Having had some extra time with this unit, I can attest to the hands free kit working quite well. The speaker is not as loud as I would have liked, with the problem mainly due to the fact that it is fitted on the back of the mount. The cherry on the cake with this unit is the charging capability. The mount connects to any new car’s 12V connector. It is fast charging and is fantastic when using your phone’s GPS. The phone’s battery life now doesn’t deplete at all when using the phone as a GPS device, and in fact it charges very quickly.
The whole rig worked fantastically and feels very solid (I took the unit that all the journalists had played and fiddled with for more than two hours and everything still worked perfectly well), even when using Google Maps to navigate (Sorry TomTom!). It is a clever solution that will help you to be safer on the road. The only thing that could be a detractor would be the price. At R999 this is not a cheap device, but with the functionality and robustness, it might just be worth the cash.
TomTom is showing innovation in a time where their traditional way of working no longer is viable. Although their core GPS unit market is still catered to with a plethora of new units, they have expanded into the inevitable world of smart phones and interactive devices. Well done TomTom.
In the box:
Smartphone Charger Mount
3 Adhesive cable clips
Fast Car Charger