So, what do I want out of my next laptop and what must it include?
TomTom GO 910
- Text-to-Speech technology, Design, 4-inch touch screen, Intuitive menu system, Ease of use, Bluetooth hands free, 20GB hard drive, Multiple languages and voices, Excellent navigation and searching
- No inputs on the unit itself, Battery life could be better, Speaker quality for music
This is by far and away the best GPS unit on the market. It combines an excellent design with a fantastically easy to use menu system and features a whole range of extra offerings such as Bluetooth hands free, MP3 player and excellent text-to-speech technology. A must have.
Price$ 899.00 (AUD)
Offering a plethora of features including a 20GB hard drive, text-to-speech technology and even a built in MP3 player, the TomTom GO 910 is quite simply the cream of the crop when it comes to GPS units. TomTom has built upon the success of their previous units to create an even better GPS which remains extremely easy to use, yet offers a substantial list of innovative features.
Looking to buy a GPS device? Visit our updated Global Positioning Systems (GPS) Buying Guide before you buy!
The TomTom GO 910 features text-to-speech technology, which means that it can say street names as you approach them. This is undoubtedly the best and most interesting feature of the GO 910 and we are pleased to report it works quite well. Where regular GPS units usually state "turn left, 500 metres", the GO 910 adds a new dimension to your navigation by saying the street name; for example: "turn left, 500 metres, Christie Street". The speech technology is fairly accurate, although naturally it does tend to struggle with long and confusing names. An excellent feature is the ability to type your own customised warnings into the GO 910 and have the voice read them out. This works especially well on points of interest such as speed cameras and school zones. Overall, the voice is as clear and concise.
Text-to-Speech technology also means that the GO 910 is capable of reading aloud your SMS messages. To do this, your phone needs to be connected to the unit via Bluetooth. Once paired, any new messages will appear on the GO 910 screen. You can choose to have the unit read the messages out upon receiving them, or simply tap "Read" from the mobile phone menu. This is an excellent feature and one that we made full use of during testing. You can even reply to messages using the GO 910's on-screen keyboard, although the keys are fairly small so accuracy can be a problem if you aren't paying attention.
The GO 910 also doubles as a hands-free car kit using Bluetooth, so you can make and receive calls as you drive, using the touch screen. There is a separate menu for your mobile phone and from here you can redial your last number, make a call, read and write messages and adjust preferences such as auto-answer. Conveniently, you can also copy your entire phone book to the GO 910 hard drive, so making a call is simply a matter of scrolling through the phone book and tapping on a person's name. The hands-free feature worked well, although you'll have to use the included microphone, which plugs into the window mount. There is another microphone on the unit itself but it is of quite poor quality, and we weren't able to make clear calls without the extra attachment.
TomTom GPS devices are known for their excellent user interface and the GO 910 is no exception, offering a similar interface to the ONE and GO 500 units. The menu features clear and colourful icons that can be likened to a mobile phone menu, so browsing through the unit is no problem at all. As with previous TomTom units, everything is operated via the 4in touch screen - the only button on the unit is for switching it on and off. There are no external volume controls but the volume can be easily accessed on screen by touching the bottom left corner of the map display. Once the volume controller appears you just slide your finger to increase or decrease volume. We were slightly annoyed with the menu though as each time you adjust a preference or setting and save it, the screen goes back to the map, so you have to navigate all the way to the menu again should you wish to change something else.
Most of the GO 910's operations can be accessed via the main menu, which is split into three separate pages. From here you simply tap the 'Navigate To..." button to navigate to your home, a favourite location, a specific address, a recent destination or a point of interest (POI). You can further narrow down your search when looking for a specific address, as the GO 910 allows you to navigate to a city centre, specific street and house number, crossing or intersection or even via postcodes. Navigating to a point of interest also offers substantial options, as you can choose a POI near your current location, in the city, near your saved home location, along the current route you are travelling or near a specific destination. TomTom has upgraded the software to ensure street names are filtered by suburb, although the software still doesn't allow you to search for a street name first, only a suburb.
The mapping software and general navigational experience is pleasing thanks to the detailed maps and clear voice instructions. The maps can be zoomed in and out and are able to show remaining time, remaining distance, arrival time, current time, street name and speed - and these can all be turned on and off in the preferences menu. If you don't hear the voice instruction, you can tap the left hand side of the status bar at the bottom of the street to repeat it. Voice instructions are clear and concise and there are over 50 voices in 36 languages preloaded onto the unit's 20GB hard drive.
The text-to-speech technology enhanced the overall navigational experience and made finding smaller and less known streets a breeze. The GO 910's voice instructions also made it easy to stay in the correct lane when a turn was approaching and we didn't ever feel lost or uneasy while using the unit. Importantly, the unit takes a mere couple of seconds to recalculate a route if you take a wrong turn, so getting lost or stuck should never be a problem.
The GO 910 unit is efficient and speedy in obtaining and maintaining a solid GPS signal thanks to the SiRFstarIII Generation 2 receiver. In our driving tests, we found the unit took anywhere between 15 and 30 seconds to pick up a signal after being turned on and overall, it was extremely quick and responsive. Even with an obscured view of the sky it still managed to maintain a constant connection.
Design and Extras
The touch screen is large, bright and clear and was excellent in both day and night conditions. One aspect of the design we didn't like was the window mount, as it includes all the connection inputs that are usually seen on the unit itself. This poses a slight annoyance, as you either need to use the mount itself, or the included PC docking station to charge the unit, rather than have the convenience of a separate AC charger. The mount itself is steady during in car use though, and the GO 910 is easily detachable via a small release button that sits above the display.
The GO 910 has 16GB of its 20GB hard drive space free (4GB is reserved for the preloaded maps) and includes a music jukebox for MP3s as well as a photo gallery. There is enough space for plenty of photos and songs and the latter can be played through the unit's speaker (although its sound quality is less than ideal) or through your car stereo if it has a line-in connection. TomTom include a line-in cable in the box so you can easily hook the unit up to your stereo, although it isn't a good look with the wire clearly visible in front of your dashboard. Alternatively, you can use Bluetooth to connect the GO 910 to a car stereo, headphones, or a pair of speakers. You can also hook up your iPod to the GO 910 and operate it via the touch screen, but TomTom doesn't supply the iPod accessory cable needed to do so in the sales package. Finally, the photo gallery offers slideshow settings for your photos, although we don't think this is very useful - especially not while driving.
Somewhat more useful is the included remote control, which unlike competing offerings, allows you to operate all of the unit's functions. The remote includes a handy mount that you can attach to your car and uses RF technology, so you don't have to point it directly at the unit. TomTom also packages a PC docking station that allows you to charge the unit and also update the software. It connects to your PC or Mac via a USB cable. A carry case and car charger round out the accessories in the sales package.
Battery life is rated at four hours by TomTom, although we found it to be a little less - especially if you use it to connect to your mobile phone via Bluetooth. On average, we experienced between three and three and a half hours of battery life which isn't anything to write home about. We'd like to see this improved in future models.
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