TomTom XL Traffic Europe GPS receiver review

TomTom has updated its TomTom XL offering, but will it still get you from A to B? We get in the car to find out.

The TomTom XL is an entry-level satnav device that sports 4.3-inch touchscreen, a newly designed EasyPort cradle and a stack of software functions. Its entry-level status means it misses out on some of TomTom’s more advanced features, such as IQ Routes and Advanced Lane Guidance, but in terms of navigation, it confirms why TomTom enjoys the market leader position they do.

The screen is clearly the focus of the device dominating the design and you get a 4.3-inch colour TFT LCD with anti-glare in a widescreen 16:9 format.

It's super crisp as well thanks to the WQVGA, 480 x 272 pixels and 64k colour resolution and makes seeing maps and instructions easy. It also means that TomTom has been able to ditch all buttons bar one: the power switch. It is simplistic to say the least and everything is managed via the screen.

Given the size of the screen the device is still fairly compact with the dimensions coming in at 118 x 83 x 25mm and a weight of 186 grams.

Thanks to the extra real estate, on-screen buttons are large and easy to press even with the fattest of fingers and spread over two screens rather than trying to cram everything on the one.

Pressing the relevant button takes you to a subset menu where there are a number of useful features like "Help me!", which allows you to get your exact position to explain to a breakdown service, or the ability to change and edit the maps. The main button you'll be pressing on a regular basis is the "Navigate to..." option however.

Coming with complete maps of Europe (you can get just UK/Ireland if you are feeling unadventurous), you can search via address, point of interest, recent destination, favourite destinations, a point on a map, or even latitude and longitude coordinates if you're being precise.

The maps are provided by Tele Atlas, and you’ll be able to keep the device up to date via TomTom Home on your PC, and benefit from Map Share, adding in map corrections from other TomTom users.

As with previous versions of the software you can search via full postcode, a city centre, or a road crossing. Once you've keyed in your address the software asks you whether you need to arrive at a particular time and away you go.

Details are clear and the instructions on-screen are easy to understand with plenty of feedback if you need it. Traffic support is included via the additional external dongle that plugs in, however, due to space saving measures in the new cradle design it will be extra clutter for your dashboard. Still, once connected it does mean you can avoid trouble spots via a TMC service.

In our road tests all works well. The XL was quick to respond to our driving in town and out, and the software got us to where we wanted to be without causing us issues. The new cradle which folds virtually flat is also easily pocketable compared to previous designs.

Verdict

The TomTom XL Traffic is TomTom continuing to do what it does best. The design is simple yet effective with the bigger screen giving you plenty of information at a glance. We especially like the new EasyPort windscreen sucker on the back that is considerably smaller, although with a 4.3-inch screen this isn't the easiest thing to put in your pocket and it’s something you should bear in mind if you don't have a bag with you.

Should you opt for the XL? If you are looking for a quick and simply satnav offering to get you from A to B you can't go wrong. It's devices like this that show why TomTom is the market leader, however those with small pockets should opt for the TomTom One.