TomTom Go 720

I’ve been using some form of TomTom GPS navigation for several years now. My first encounter with a TomTom product was the Windows Mobile version that came with a separate GPS block. Having since upgraded to a different phone I was then gifted the TomTom One last year, which offered an even better experience. I’m now on to the TomTom 720 and can see that whilst TomTom have clearly dominated the satellite navigation market with its easy to use and affordable options, they’ve continued to innovate and improve the product range.

Packed with new features, the Go 720 from TomTom continues to deliver the best in-class satellite navigation.

Inside the unit, the 720 features a 400MHz processor and 64MB of RAM. On the memory card you also have Western Eurpean maps pre-loaded, ready to use straight out of the box. The hardware figures translate in to smooth performance and quick route calculations, especially for long journeys as evident in my tests and comparison with my TomTom One.

The 4.3-inch screen is perfectly sized, offering a clear view of the road ahead and delivering on a much-improved user experienced compared to the smaller TomTom One that I’m used to.

Battery life comes in at five hours with its built in Lithium Polymer battery, which can be charged using the included car adapter. Also included in the box is the desk dock for connecting to your computer and charging, the windscreen mount and TomTom Home software.

TomTom have added a whole set of new features, each adding value in its own way but some perhaps questionable.

The consistent user interface has meant that I haven’t had to re-learn how to use the software ever since I started using the TomTom product range. This familiar formula of an easy to use menu system delivers an exceptionally simple navigation system that takes next to no time to pick up, even if you’re new to satellite navigation.

With voice recognition built in, you can now tell TomTom where you want to go and although I was a bit skeptical about how accurate this would be but was surprised to find that it worked exceptionally well. It was able to recognise even obscure road names and even my place of work!

An ambient light sensor detects how much light is around and will adjust the screen to display the map in Day or Night view mode. This is a nicety as it removes the need to make a manual change to the screen for the different times of the day you drive. At night you want the screen to show more neutral colours and a lower brightness, whereas in the day you want good brightness and high contrast for easy viewing of the maps. Previously you would have to manually switch between the two in the Preferences, now it can adjust itself automatically.

One of the key new features of the 720 is the Map Share technology. This gives drivers the ability to make map corrections to reflect the real world as things often change after maps have been published. This allows you to create your own routes to destinations as opposed to following the algorithms built in to the TomTom. Another element of this technology is the sharing aspect. Based on community contribution, every time you dock your TomTom unit to your computer it will upload your corrections back to base as well as download corrections to maps that other users have uploaded. This essentially means you get free updates to your maps.

With the Bluetooth wireless connectivity, you can connect up to your mobile phone to turn your TomTom in to a handsfree wireless kit. This feature debuted a few years ago and has long been a useful feature for many drivers. When connected to your mobile phone, it will sync your contacts so you can make browse your phone book and make calls directly from the TomTom. The built-in speaker and microphone will also allow you receive phone calls, with full control of your phone using the touchscreen interface, making it safer for you to answer your phone whilst driving. Want to read and send text messages? Not a problem with the 720!

Alternatively, you can use the FM transmitter to output the sound that from the TomTom in to the sound system of your car. This gives you an alternative to using the built-in speaker by redirecting the sound via the FM output. Having this feature switched on also means you can playback music stored on an SD card through your car stereo system, providing you can live with interruptions from the voice navigation every now and again.

There are a whole host of other useful features included with the 720. This includes the speed alerts, which tells you when you’re overstepping the mark on the acceleration pedal, built-in speed camera database (subscription required for ongoing updates), safety preferences, and a viewer for displaying your images in a slideshow and for opening your documents.

Signal pick up from the TomTom Go 720 was exceptional. And in areas where you can’t receive a signal, such as inside a tunnel, it doesn’t just spazz out. It intelligently guesses where you are based on the speed you were traveling at and the road you’re on. As soon as you re-gain your signal on the other side of the tunnel, it resumes navigation using satellite tracking.

Maps on the latest TomTom range are updated and the algorithms for routes have also been fine tuned to give the best route. I noticed several different journeys that I’ve made with my TomTom One being different on the 720, which in fact are the correct routes (a lesson hard learned).

What baffles me is why TomTom have decided to change the dock on models 520 upwards from what they used to be in the previous generation equivalents. Windscreen mounts of the past were super reliable with the rubber suction pad reinforced with a switch for extra strong suction. The current generation lacks this switch to give the extra suction and the result is an unsafe solution when you have the 720 on your windscreen, as it’s prone to fall whilst driving, especially when going over uneven roads. With rubber sucker mounts you need to make sure that there’s plenty of moisture to make it stick to your windscreen but this has the nasty effect of leaving water marks on your windscreen. I had the same problem with the TomTom One and I can’t understand why they have essentially used the same system for the higher end models as well. Bring back the old windscreen mounts!

The exceptional TomTom Go 720 scores top marks, and having used it for over 1,000 miles of travel over the past month it has been a reliable companion to unfamiliar places. With a phenomenal amount of features, mostly useful, you get a wallet-friendly solution to your traveling needs. Forget the rest, go for the TomTom Go 720.

2008-04-12 Onwah Tsang

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