We’ve always liked TomTom’s offerings because their software is often the most intuitive. We take a look at their top offering, the TomTom Go 930 Traffic, on the eve of the launch of their HD traffic service.
Cased in black body, a welcome respite from the silver clones that seem to dominate the satnav market, the TomTom Go 930 has a simple, clutter-free, design - the front dominated by the 4.3in touchscreen. The only button is the discreet power button on the top – it’s almost a shame TomTom didn’t decide to use their logo as the power switch.
In the box you get pretty much everything you want from a satnav – the suction mount, 12v power lead, TMC aerial, desk dock, and the remote control. You also get the software suite for TomTom HOME, to really get the most out of your device, using the supplied desk dock. The maps on this version cover Europe, US and Canada, so could make for some interesting driving.
The best thing about TomTom, and one of the reasons it has been so popular, is that it is incredibly easy to use. Out of the box, turn it on and away you go, it is a simple as that. The suction mount is worth a mention because is fairly low-profile, slipping into the back of the device. The power cable has a 90 degree plug meaning your TomTom can be mounted flush with the dashboard.
Unfortunately the TMC cable doesn’t have this advantage, so you have to raise the device a little to accommodate the length of the plug – about an inch – which feels like a design oversight. We have issues with TMC aerials because of the ugly effect they have on your car, namely the wire suspended across the dash.
One of the big features here is the integration of traffic information, in this case supplied by the TMC aerial. This updates every 15 minutes or so, to indicate traffic along your chosen route. There is also a neat option to check traffic on your route to work, after you have indicated your home and work locations. Of course, this does depend on you being in the car and the traffic being up-to-date.
In our tests we found navigation to be the thorough solution we expect from TomTom and think that the interface is still the best currently on offer. The traffic element is perhaps not all it could be and we found that dense traffic wasn’t recorded, and even having heard of an accident on the radio, it didn’t appear in traffic updates on our route, even after a few updates. With the launch of TomTom HD – which will provide updates every couple of minutes – perhaps the service is set to drastically improve.
You also get IQ routes, which calculates your route based on real average speed data, so you get a more realistic picture of you journey time. Advanced Lane Guidance is a gem to make sure you take the right turning on a motorway and don’t end up heading north instead of south, a problem that has blighted satnav in the past.
Of course, on this level of device you get the Bluetooth link for your phone, and an FM transmitter built-in. Unfortunately the Bluetooth connection is not as solid as some devices and we found that our phone (Samsung U600) was often disconnected for no reason. Connection also enables features like TomTom weather once you have established a data connection – but you will end up paying the data rates for these sprts of options. You can also access your address book and have incoming text message read out, which is a nice touch.
The 930 also supports voice commands, which sounds smart, and works pretty well. It basically pulls up the location menu, so you say "London" and it offers you a list of cities, with London at the top, for you to press, and again with street names. It works, but doesn’t save much time as the interface is relatively simple anyway. Perhaps it is designed to stop drivers pressing too many buttons whilst driving, but you do have to access the menu first to enable the voice input, so doesn’t really satisfy that demand.
You also get a remote control in the box, however, and we’re sorry to say this, we couldn’t get the back off it to insert the batteries. Despite the instructions, we were a little hesitant to use a more destructive method.
Of course the best feature is being able to access the wider community and update maps. Maps were invariably out of date on older versions, but now at least you get the chance to edit them as well as download updates from other users. In reality you will probably correct things near your home, to stop a route down a closed road and so on.
All in all, this is TomTom doing what it does best. As a navigation solution, we think this is the best around, but this could be said of the offerings much further down the range, with a great range of options to ensure your journey goes as smoothly as possible. But do all the extra features make it a worthwhile purchase and justify that premium price?
Sure, it is fully loaded, but perhaps too feature packed for your average user. To justify splashing out on the Rolls-Royce of satnavs you really need to know you are going to use these features, and that means some serious driving.