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As my old TomTom's battery wasn't charging properly, I'd decided to sell it and then replace it with a more up-to-date version with traffic updates to help me navigate the London roads, so I went for a TomTom 820 HD Traffic.
Got it for £168 on Amazon, which I think is a pretty good price for one including Western Europe maps (about £10 more than UK only version). I may never use it outside of the UK but figured it would retain for when I decide to re-sell it. I expect it to last a good few years like my old TomTom One Classic (3rd series), which lasted about 5 years and only cost me £88.
EASE OF USE
Having used a TomTom before, I found getting up and running with this new one a doddle. I've also tried out other Sat Nav's including ones built into cars but still find TomToms to be the most user-friendly (maybe I'm just used to it).
One thing that stood out for me upon my first taking the device out of the box was that the suction mount was stuck on the back of the TomTom. My last TomTom had a slot on suction mount (which fell off the windscreen A LOT), which I stopped using and opted for a vent mount instead. This new one has an in-built mount, which sticks to the windscreen when I turn a dial to lock it to the windscreen. I find this suction mount to be excellent and it has only fallen off on me once. Sometimes a little tricky to take off but at least it doesn't fall off, which can be dangerous if I'm trying to pick it back up again from the floor when the car is moving. The TomTom angle can be adjusted when stuck on the windscreen and the picture can rotate 180 degrees, which adds a lot more flexibility for mounting the TomTom.
Navigating around the menu's is easy using the touch screen by touching the appropriate icons (which are appropriately labelled). Navigation speed is adequate but sometimes I do find that it could move from screen to screen a bit more quickly. There is a very slight momentary delay between moving from screen to screen once you touch an icon but otherwise, okay.
Once you're ready to set off, you can navigate to an address by entering a town, postcode, recent location, favourite location or point of interest. I find it very intuitive to use and this is all that most people will ever need. Once set, it takes about a minute or two to calculate the route depending on the complexity of the route.
When moving, the TomTom will guide you to your destination. The voice guidance is loud and clear. Very easy and generally very reliable so long as the power lead is plugged in or it has enough charge to last your journey. Battery life seems to last between 1-2 hours for me, which is adequate so for short journeys, you don't have to plug it in. A lot of the options, what it displays, etc are customisable. The screen is also very sharp compared my old TomTom, which helps with navigating if you're not sure which turn to take because there's more than one road up ahead. However, when you miss your turn and it needs to recalculate your route, it can take about 10-20 seconds so you may end up missing the next turning if they're close together.
When I first turn on the TomTom, it sometimes doesn't switch from night mode to day mode and vice versa, which is a bit annoying. Not sure if it has a light sensor or something but I have to wait for it to change itself after a couple of minutes. I can however, manually set it in the settings. When I enter a new destination, it always asks me if I want to navigate from my last known location. I don't like this and have actually changed the setting to tell it to not ask but it still asks. I'm not always using the TomTom and I sometimes turn it off when I know where I'm going so it will ask me if I want to navigate from the last location where it was switched on, which I find rather pointless as it should just be detecting the current location. There is no point in navigating from the location where I'm not currently at. This is a minor annoyance but it just means I have an extra screen to go through especially as I can't seem to turn it off.
The main feature that interested me in this edition of the device was the Live Traffic updates. I was hoping that this thing was smart enough to help me avoid all traffic jams in and around London, but not quite the case unfortunately. It tells me where there are traffic jams on the roads on screen, and it does ask me if I would like to take alternative routes that would save me so many minutes (this depends on your settings) but it doesn't always do it and so I end up queuing in traffic even though there are routes with less traffic. Once it's calculated a route to avoid some traffic, it would say to me "you are still on the fastest route", which I sometimes doubt as if I avoid certain areas completely using my own knowledge of the route, it's sometimes quicker than listening to the TomTom. This Traffic Live feature is actually subscription based so will cost something like £30 each year.
What I normally do is tell it to calculate alternative route and then tell I to avoid certain roads. This is a bit fiddly and I have found that I have to repeat the process several times as it just avoids one street so still takes me around that one street whereby what I really want is for it to avoid the whole area altogether. You can tell it to 'Travel via' but for that you need to give it a street or point of interest. As I sometimes can't think of any streets or points of interest without sending me too far out of the way, I end up just using 'avoid part of route' instead. Fine if you remember a street but would be nice if it let you select an area / town rather than being too specific when using the 'Travel via' function.
To my surprise, this TomTom also has built-in Bluetooth, which means you can use it for hands free calls. This works very well and even syncs your phone's address book to it so you can see who is calling you by name rather than just the number on the TomTom screen.
The TomTom also has useful features like speed camera alerts and Map Share. The 'suggest driving breaks' seems a bit pointless unless you're a HGV driver or something. Every so often, it tells me that I should plug it into a computer to update the maps. Supposedly, other users share map data to update the map. A proper map update is not free but this map share is. I have found the feature to tell the TomTom that a road has changed i.e. permanent or temporary road block. It has taken me down a couple of roads where barriers have been erected so cars are no longer allowed through but I expected this now and again. There is also the chance of it taking you down the wrong way of a one way street but it has not happened to me yet on this new one. With this, you would hope someone else has added this in their map share otherwise you would need to purchase a map update.
Similar to my old TomTom, this one also has a Toll Road warning so asks me whether I want to include these roads or not. Useful if you would rather avoid the tolls or London Congestion Charge Zones. Despite having the time programmed in, it still gives me the toll warning for going into the Congestion Zone despite being after 6pm so that could be programmed in by the manufacturer. There's loads of other things you can do like change voices, connect it up to your PC and download traffic camera updates (official ones aren't free but there are unofficial ones), choose which points of interest to display on map, download point of interests like McDonald's and bank branches etc. It even has a Google search to find points of interests.
One thing I didn't expect was any sort of voice recognition but it does have some. The only thing I've ever managed to use it for was answering back to the TomTom when it asks me whether I want to take this alternative route that will save me so many minutes. Answer is always "yes" or "no". If I don't answer, it just sticks to the current route. I find it a bit disappointing that they haven't implemented this feature for making calls.
- Easy to use - Doesn't fall off the windscreen as easily when using the built-in suction mount - Built-in hands free feature - Has map share for free map updates - Great picture - Gets you from A to B right to the door in most cases - Lots of features - Robust (can be dropped lots of times in the car)
- Day / Night mode maps sometimes take a while to switch between automatically - IQ HD Traffic feature doesn't always avoid traffic and is subscription based - Limited voice recognition usage - Proper map updates are not fre
It's great device despite the little issues. I personally do not know where I'd be without it (frequently lost or searching for places I don't go often I'll bet). It's great for pinpointing your exact locations to the door. Highly recommended for drivers (especially those with a poor sense of direction).