When you buy a GPS – you want a smart GPS. Not one that was smart a year ago. You want one that is smart this minute. Before you pull out of your drive, wouldn’t it be nice to know about the traffic jam at the north end of your street or that darn backup ¼ mile after you enter the freeway.
With the TomTom GO 600, (or the TomTom GO 500) you’ll have the latest up-to-datest information possible through a free Lifetime Traffic via Smartphone app for iOS or Android. Your GPS will communicate with your smartphone and as the screen comes on – whammo – you can see the whole neighborhood around you and any delays or accidents in the area.
Worried that it will cost a fortune on a limited data plan? I must admit, that’s the first thing that came to my mind. Surprise! An hour’s worth of data each day in peak traffic time equals only about 7MB of data per month. Shoot. That’s less data than it takes to stream three music tracks (3 MB/ track.) Just make sure your phone is charging, as it will use some battery life.
Can it get better than that?
Sure. My favorite feature of the TomTom GO 500 or GO 600 is the way they have improved the Quick Search. First of all, you get to pick whether you are looking for something or somewhere:
a) On the current map
b) Near me
c) In a town or a city you can name
d) Along the route I’m following
e) Near my planned destination
f) At a specific Latitude/Longitude
Then as you start to type, you don’t need to define what you are looking for, just start typing. As you type, various suggestions will start popping up in one of two columns below. The suggestions in the left column will be locations – addresses and cities. The ones in the right column will be different type points of interest. As soon as you see what you’re looking for, tap it and your route planning is done.
You can also take advantage of a new visual interface when planning your route. Zoom in or zoom out by squeezing or spreading a two-finger touch on the screen. Merely find the place you want on the map and hold down your finger tip for a second or two. A popup will occur with a Driving Wheel symbol. Touch that and start driving. Super quick for long distance travel where you don’t need to program in specific destinations yet.
The route bar up along the right side of the screen has been updated as well. Now you’ll know what type of delays are coming up in the next 30 miles as well as hold long each will delay you. You’ll have the option to select alternative routes if that will save your time.
How to beat the delays
Even if I don’t plan to change routes, I find the route bar especially valuable when planning pit stops. Might as well stop early if I’ve got to stop anyhow. Hopefully by the time I’m done, things will have cleared up. If they haven’t, at least I’ve got a fresh beverage to help pass the time.
My other favorite update is the suction cup and new mount for both the GO 500 and GO 600. A simple twist of the ring tightly adheres the suction cup to the glass, even better than their 2013 models. And the GPS simply tips into place on the holder. Nothing to press, or tabs to disengage. Tilt up or tilt off. Works great.
Voice recognition is another nice feature but performance for me varied depending on how quiet the environment was and how non-ambiguous the destination was. No voice recognition system is smart enough to know whether you want North Sea Drive, North C Drive or North See Drive.
The TomTom GO 500 is a 5” color screen, weighing 8.3 oz. and measures 5-2/3”x3-5/8”.
The TomTom GO 600 is a 6” color screen, weighing 10.6 oz. and measures 6-2/3” x 4-1/8”.
Check out their whole line at www.TomTom.com
Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about interesting new travel technology topics, across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions for future products to be reviewed. If you've ever used one of the products he's reviewed, please leave your thoughts in the comment box below. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here.