The next time you pass a minicab, take a good look at the dashboard: there’s a good chance that the hapless passenger’s destination is under the control of a GPS-enabled smartphone. A couple of years ago you’d have almost certainly seen a dedicated sat-nav device, but the inexorable rise of the smartphone combined with free turn-by-turn navigation from the likes of Ovi and Google is eating into that once-lucrative market. Standalone devices are responding by adding more of the technology that makes smartphones attractive, an approach typified by TomTom’s new flagship model, the GO LIVE 1000.
The biggest technical change from the existing GO LIVE models is the introduction of a 4.3-inch capacitive screen. This allows iPhone-like swiping to scroll menus and two-finger pinch-zooming, but the big downside is that you can’t use a stylus (or gloves, or a long fingernail) to operate it. We also found the screen to be far too sensitive for entering text reliably with our clunky fingers. Voice control is available and works well if you’re blessed with reasonably clear diction (unlike us), but overall we think the older resistive screens are much better suited to this type of product.
Another new feature is the Easy Click magnetic window mount, which is excellent; no more groping around trying to clip in or release the sat-nav, as the powerful magnet almost sucks it into position. Its USB connector/charger cable also has a magnetic connector. The TomTom Home desktop software is now gone, replaced by My TomTom, a web-based service that talks to a connection applet in the Windows notification area.
At the time of writing, My TomTom was still a work in progress, with services such as personalised POIs, backups and voice downloads listed as ‘coming soon’. Some LIVE services (HD Traffic, weather reports and Google Local Search) work over the integrated GPRS connection, whereas speed camera and map corrections are synchronised via the PC. One year’s LIVE subscription is included, with subsequent years costing a reasonable £47.50 (inc. VAT).
Several features have disappeared since the high-end TomTom models of yesteryear, such as a media player and FM transmitter, and good riddance too, but we do miss light sensors and the very useful ability to blank the screen between route instructions. There’s no SD card slot, either, but the excellent Bluetooth phone hands-free system is still there. For the top-of-the-range model it seems a bit stingy not to include even a basic slip case in the box, though.
In use, assuming you can live with the super-sensitive touch screen, it’s fast and accurate with very quick re-routing, clear maps and the handy Advanced Lane Guidance at supported road junctions. The sound is clear and very loud, but the screen was rather too bright for our tastes on night settings, even at the lowest brightness level.