TomTom GO 720

2

After reading reviews from “gpsreview.net”:http://gpsreview.net, I finally caved and got an el cheapo $300 GPS for our old Volvo. It cost about $3000 for the DVD Navigation unit in new cars, so its interesting to see how good the add-on products are. I have to say I’m amazed. The thing really is not much a kludge. The biggest thing is that it has a Lithium Ion battery that last five hours so you don’t necessarily need an ugly cable connected to your cigarette lighter (12V car outlet for the politically correct). And it includes an FM transmitter in the unit, so you can play right to your speakers.

The other great thing I hadn’t appreciated is that the SD card let’s you use it like an iPod. That doesn’t sound so cool until I actually tried it. The user interface is terrific and it is nice not to have to always plug in my iPod all the time.

The user interface is actually pretty good and easy to use. The only gripes I have is that the actual software part isn’t super clear. Basically, the newest software client is TomTom Home 2.1 and it is only available on Windows. Mac just has 1.6. You need 2.1, because you get what are called TomTom updates, so rather than having to subscribe to really expensive GPS updates, they are creating a community that corrects POI. You get updates from the community, so for instance, the thing started up not knowing where any of the Starbucks but you load the “Latest Map guarantee” and move from version 7.05 to 7.1 and suddenly you know where to get your coffee.

There seems to be a pretty good community of folks who know how to hack it at “Tomtomforums.com”:http://www.tomtomforums.com/forumdisplay.php?f=66. The main question right now is when does voice input work. Some say firmware 7.221 allow it in the US. TomTom is a European company so for instance, they have traffic data in Europe that requires a separate device called a TMC in the US. Voice input works in the UK, but not US or Australia. Apparently, there is a fix where you:

bq. “Create”:http://www.tomtomforums.com/showthread.php?t=4741&page=2 a text file support_asr.dat and just put 1 in the file. Then copy it to the ASR directory on your TomTom internal drive. It will enable the icon to allow you to input address. However, you may need to have the North_America map v7.10 to be able to input City and street though voice. I can only input street number before I upgraded to v7.10.

On the other hand, their Mandarin chinese voice output works great 🙂

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2 Replies to “TomTom GO 720”

  1. we love the tomtom. the only drawback we’ve noticed vs oem units is a much slower startup time — it takes our tomtom a minute or two to acquire initial satellite signals, whereas my builtins on MB, Audi, and Porsche have always popped right to life. but is that worth the price? And you can take the tomtom when you fly somewhere on vacation!

  2. That’s interesting. I just timed the TomTom 720, it boots and is ready for input in six seconds, so maybe it is this way fast new chipset the reviews mention, but it is faster than the Acura MDX or the Prius Nav systems we have.

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