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My father bought a new car a while back and while it did not have a built in sat nav system included in the package was this TomTom Start, now my Dad is a real technophobe and had no desire to try and master a sat nav system and personally I had never really been that keen on buying one as I had never really had a pressing need for one other than when driving in France, in this country I'm quite happy relying on a good old fashioned map and a journey planner. Having said that I was quite happy to get a freebie as if I did not get on with it I would just sell it on eBay for him.
This is a very basic and quite simple to operate sat nav system which is suitable for driving in the UK and is aimed at those drivers who have a limited use for a sat nav and want an entry level model. Looking on the internet it retails between £70 - £100 generally however it is easily available at the lower price so that would be the most I would advise paying for it.
It comes with an usb cable and also a charger for the car which slots into your cigarette lighter socket and has 2GB of memory built in. It comes with a 3.5 inch screen
which I find is plenty big enough to be able to read from while I'm driving and is made from black plastic. It also has a suction pad however do be careful with these as the marks they can leave on your dashboard or windscreen can indicate that you have a sat nav to the criminal element out there increasing the risk of a break in as they go looking for the device which is usually stored in the glove compartment.
Underneath the suction pad is the devices speaker and the sound from this device is very clear with good clarity and it is relatively easy to follow the directions. Once the device is plugged in it powers up quickly and you have two simple choices, you can either browse a map or plan a route, I do find that it can be a little slow to fix on the GPS signal and I have noticed that on a couple of journeys there have been a couple of occasions that it has lost signal completely and you are left high and dry, this happened once up in the Lakes and again on route to Snowden so it clearly does not like the high ground. However in built up areas it has never failed me which is when I find it is most useful.
What I like about the device is that it is very easy to operate, you can load up your home address however again I would not advise this for safety reasons (watching the Real Hustle is very instructional but does make you paranoid) and there are a number other options like current location and recent destination to name a couple as these are the ones I use the most. The keypad appears on the screen and is almost like predictive text in that as you type a place name options start to appear so you do not need to type the whole destination, naturally it works best with a postcode and is at its most accurate when you have this. It is pretty quick to load a route once the input is done.
There are a number of other settings, be able to change the brightness to a night setting is good and the sound can be adjusted as well in case you have sleeping passengers or have trouble hearing the instructions. You can also vary the voice of the instructions but I'm quite happy with Doris who is the default setting (my name for her).
The screen is surprisingly easy to read and while I tend to use the 2d setting pretty much all of the time there is a 3d setting which is useful in built up areas when close to your destination. The read out which shows speed and distance as well as time to destination are all nice features and relatively easy to read however they are not the sort of thing I'm concerned about as I rely on the car displays for speed and the like. The built in speed camera alerts are a nice feature especially when in an area you are not familiar with.
It is easy to upload the updates to the maps using the software and usb cable provided and you can also upgrade to a European set of maps as well, something I will do when next driving on the continent.
I have found the display to be able to cope with a variety of weather conditions from bright sunshine to days when it is cold and the car starts to steam up a bit, the screen is clear and easy to decipher. I'm still not a total convert to such devices, maybe it is the control freak in me but the device is a nice, easy to operate, almost idiot proof introduction to the sat nav family and I would be quite happy if my next car had an integrated sat nav in it.
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