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Tomtom Sat Nav? You want to read about its useful features and not the gimmicks. What's worth having and what's not? The difference between the Tomtom V2 and V3.
Now I'm no expert, to be honest I was a first time buyer on a budget and only previously had experience of a friends Navman F20 before buying my own tomtom 10 days ago.
I set out as you are probably doing now reading all the reviews on different makes and finding people talking more about battery life and suction ability rather than what it can actually do.
Step one, it eventually hit me that the only way to avoid disappointment and really find out its full features is to go to the manufacturers website and download there product manual if its available.
Four real must have features I would say on any Sat Nav worth having are:
* Map scrolling, where you can use your finger to look around a map as you please. (To at least review the route the sat nav has picked for you to take instead of blindly following it)
** Itinerary Planning where you can plot multiple waypoints say if you want to go from London to Liverpool Via Cardiff is an extreme example.
*** A roadblock feature. This is an easily accessed button that allows you to re route your journey quickly and automatically to avoid the route you're on for next 1 mile, 2 miles or 3 miles. Ideal if an accident happens and the roads closed or if you're stuck in miles of traffic you can just take the next exit and go around it and rejoin your original route further down.
**** A basic built in speed camera layout. So many of them have it you would be foolish to not get one with it built in. Even if it is slightly out of date.
As I stated I had used the Navman F20 which is now quite cheap to buy at <£120 and I was also looking at the Acer v200 at <£120. I liked using the Navman but it lacked key features such as map scrolling, road block and itinerary planning which made it very annoying to use and somewhat useless. The other Navmans were too expensive for me so they were out. Garmins Nuvi seemed so confusing to pin down what version did what and what was new and what was out of date I gave up on them when its obvious that the tomtom v3 was a new bit of kit. The Acer got good reviews and had map scroll but no speed cameras built in or itinerary planning or roadblock features, I think. Also there future maps releases and customer support could be questionable as they are new to the Sat Nav market.
So I looked towards Tomtom, previously I thought it would be so cliché to get one and they were out of my price range but in August 2007 V2 got a price cut and V3 entered the market cheaper than ever at around £140/150, or now a bargain at £132.00 as shown above. It was a little steep for me but because the features all seemed so worthwhile I had to get it.
Tomtom have kept choosing simple with all the features on the ONE being the same as the ONE XL (just has a bigger screen) and also you can get one with Europe maps and one with GB. So there are four straight versions, easy (minus the expensive tomtoms higher up the range which have features most of us wont use). The other advantage of picking a tomtom is that they are market leaders and they seem to look after there customers, offering easily accessible software upgrades for the unit, decent support and map updates.
So which one to choose the new V3 or the old V2. You will find a lot of sites saying well buy the V2 it has an optional antenna extension on it and it has bluetooth capability and a buddy feature and SD card support and now its cheap to buy. But they all skate over the fact that the V3 runs on a new Hammerhead chipset which is more accurate and I think locks satellites faster. The V2 runs on the old SiRFStar III chipset. There's reportedly not much difference between them but if tomtom backs the Hammerhead then who knows how software can utilise it in the future. Obviously V2 owners will miss out.
Other than that the V3 no longer has an SD slot which can be annoying but it is likely that it has been removed for 3 reasons:
* Internal memory will run slightly quicker then external SD memory.
** Customers have reported problems with different branded SD cards compatibility. Most of them do work but lots of people call tomtom customer services to sort it out (usually because they havent formatted it) and it gums the phones up so I guess its a hassle that tomtom don't need.
*** SD memory allows uses to move illegal map software more easily. The GB map edition has a 512MB internal memory and the UK plus Europe mapping has a 1GB internal memory. This already restricts the cheaper 512MB users from hacking the 907mb file needed to obtain complete Europe usage.
Now all is not lost, most of you V3 GB users want to know if you could eventually upgrade legally (for ~£41) or otherwise to detailed maps of France plus major roads of western Europe, seeing as we all like hopping over to France. The file is 335MB and the pre installed UK maps takes about 210MB plus to make matters worse the tomtom only registers around 490MB so we are 55MB out. But through some quick trimming of unnecessary voice files, the tomtom home install software which doesnt have to be present once its installed on your computer and the first aid guides/car maintanence help, it can be done, just. Another bonus of tomtom is there are lots of available celeb voices to choose from.
I would like to point out that what many reviewers and tomtom itself seem to have missed is that you don't have full itinerary planning despite them stating it has (even the current manual says look at itinerary planning on page 61 but there is not a page 61, manual ends at page 48, helpful). You can set only one waypoint but this is not so bad because you can try to balance things up by reviewing the route and avoiding certain roads.
I believe V2 does have full itinerary planning. Maybe tomtom will re enable it in the future.
For those people worried about how to change between maps because they previously just switch SD cards, this is now done on the preferences screen under manage maps. Just select a different map if you have one and it loads straight up in 3 seconds.
On a general note the tomtom is a great piece of kit it gets a satellite lock within 10 seconds most of the time here in West Sussex, thanks to its new clever predictive satellite positioning system that allows you to upload the satellite positions for the next 7 days off the website automatically for free. It also works in my house most of the time, which the Navman F20 never did so I wouldn't worry about that antenna ext on the V2 because this thing never has signal problems. Speaker is fine; speed related volume is another feature. The tomtom home computer software is easy to use and is now featured on the tomtom itself as a .exe which links to the website for a speedy download. Speed cams are pre install but you get a product promotion voucher in the box which lets you get one update for 'up to the minute' accuracy. Further updates to cameras are £20 for the year. Re route calculations are done in usually 6 seconds or less if you take a wrong road, its so quick you wouldn't even know you've missed the turn because it doesn't warn you because its already recalculated. Although I'm sure it would if it was a major road missed.
I wont go into details on other standard features that you can find on the tomtom website via reading there manuals. The V3 is identified by having a completely silver front and no tomtom hands logo just the writing in the centre plus no SD slot on the bottom. The Tomtom ONE V3 GB gets my vote, no regrets, great features, and great price.