Bells and whistles
GPS DEVICE COMPANIES Garmin and TomTom are trying every trick in the book to keep selling standalone navigation devices in the face of a market where cellphones are taking over. Their latest attempts include incorporating live updates to guide you past traffic jams. Garmin is doing that in partnership with Altech Netstar, as reviewed in Finweek (22 July). TomTom uses information from Tracker and has a different delivery method. We tested this with the TomTom GO 750 Live.
TomTom’s Live services feature more than just traffic information: there are also speed camera tracking and even weather services that will tell you what climate to expect at your destination. Connecting to TomTom Live is done using cellular networks with a Vodacom SIM card embedded in the device.
My first experience with TomTom’s Live HD traffic system was on a drive home from the office through heavy rush-hour traffic. The device alerted me there was traffic on the route but could provide a quicker route that avoided the jams, which I agreed to. But 15 minutes later I was in a terrible back-up. I made a U-turn and reverted to my usual route, which was flowing far more freely. Not a great introduction to Live, though subsequent attempts proved more fruitful.
Traffic aside, the 750 is a great device with Bluetooth hands-free support for phones that worked well with my iPhone. Disappointingly, TomTom has removed FM transmission from the 750 that allowed its earlier devices to send audio to the car’s radio, enabling it to play music and other audio files.
Other than that, the 750 is packed with features, including voice control and support for Google online local search. A one-year subscription to the Live service is included but thereafter charged at R499/year.