In my opinion, TomTom is the best brand for in-car GPS systems.

They usually have large screens, route planning is good. There are models with voice recognition. And there are "get me to a nearest..." options like for a gas station or for emergencies.

First of all, which one should you buy?

The Live models (with built-in slow internet access for things like Google searching from the device, traffic, and few other things) are not really necessary. Get Google 411 number stored on your phone and you don't really need Live for that. Can't say traffic info was critical for my area. It is a cool thing, but not something to die for. And it's a subscription after 6 months.

On the other hand, a large screen and pronounced street names are a must.

If you are:

In a large city or is a feature freak: go with 740 Live

Want a very good but affordable unit with voice input: go with 630

Want a more affordable product with live traffic updates and other Live services: go with XL 340S LIVE

Just don't want the costly crap, and want a trusty and affordable car GPS solution: go with XL 340S

Note: I would not recommend anything below 340S. Also, you can buy all units above much cheaper if you hunt around online, or get a refurbished unit. There are deals on and off on the internet. For example, if you do your homework, the 740Live can be obtained for $220.


Review of TomTom devices:

1) Get the EasyPort mount. Models without it are much worse off.

2) For older devices, like XL, there is insufficient memory if you want to add voices. You will need a 2GB card (not 1GB) as there is no space in the built-in memory.

3) Make sure to go online and get all additional voices and other goodies like Points of Interest on your device. Explore the TomTom Home software for all of its features.

4) The manufacturer being from England there are just a few quirks here and there regarding words used (motorway, etc). Just reminds you that it was not developed in US. But this is barely noticeable.

5) The mount is the weak part of these devices. The older suction cup mount is impossible to keep attached to your car. NEVER mount a device on your windshield high. The higher it is mounted, the harder it falls. And it will fall off your windshield. For sedans, I recommend putting it as low as possible to the point that it rests on the dash. For vans and such, you are better off first mounting the plastic square on the dash, and then mounting the suction cup to the plastic piece.

6) The various Preferences (settings) are worth going thru and tweaking. I thought about posting a quick list, but then changed my mind. Go in preferences yourself and look thru everything. You will find interesting stuff in there.

7) The hands-free Bluetooth speaker DOES NOT WORK WITH ALL CELLPHONES. Actually, it works with just a few cellphone models. This will surprise you.


Also remember to plug it into your computer regularly for map and device updates, and to make the satellite signal finding easier when device is turned on.


Also, they would very much like to hook you up for a $10/month Live subscription. What does that get you? Subscription gets traffic, Google searching, map corrections (not map updates), and quick GPS (device will acquire signal faster).

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Page last modified 09-Feb-12 21:31:06 EST
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