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Tom Tom 500
How can a mere mortal such as I write a review on a product such as this, well I shall try. I feel it incumbent upon me to advise you dear reader that I may from time to time appear to wonder off into the realms of fantasy. Fear not, it does what it says on the box and it's not fantasy.
Having been the proud owner of what is now called and referred to as the Tom Tom Classic, the first of this type of device that Tom Tom produced. I eagerly awaited the introduction of the new Tom Tom range. The 300, 500 and 700.
Having read the advance descriptions of the range I settled on the Tom Tom 500 for reasons I will give later. I purchased the Tom Tom 500 from Amazon, I placed an advance order for the product and had to wait 2 months for delivery. The problems with delivery not only affected Amazon but all other suppliers, it appeared that demand outstripped supply. I paid Ł476, from what I can see, if you shop around you should be able to pick one up for just under Ł450.
I don't want to get into listing the specifications, as this information can be read at your leisure on the Tom Tom web site. I would however like to give you my own view of this device and an explanation of its functions and use. I am by trade a Chauffeur, and have been for the past 6 years following my retirement from the Police.
What do you get for your money, well the box contains the following:-
The Tom Tom Go 500 unit, it has a touch sensitive screen, an on/off button, a button to release it from the docking cradle and a memory card slot. An SD card with pre installed maps of the UK region together with the main roads of the rest of Europe A suction mount cradle so you fix the device to the windscreen A DC power lead, so you can power the unit from the cigarette lighter socket in your vehicle. A carry case USB Cable to connect to your computer. An AC adapter so you can charge the unit when not in your vehicle. A quick start guide and an installation poster.
You will find that when you take it out of the box there should be enough of a charge in the unit to switch it on power it up, insert the SD card, run outside and shout "By eck it knows where I am" . I know like most men the last thing we do is read the instructions. What you should do is connect the AC power cable and leave it on charge for hours on end.
Personally I suggest putting the mount together, get in your vehicle and find a suitable place to site the unit, I have my TT500 in the centre of the windscreen just above the dashboard, it's not restricting my vision and it can be adjusted easily. You will find that it will take a few hours of driving for you to become accustomed to it.
The first time you use it may take some time to work out where it is, lets face it, its been stuck in a box, how would you feel if it was you. After that it only takes a few seconds to power up. The TT500 starts by displaying the navigation view, this is a map view and it will appear grey, that is until it gets a fix on the satellites then the map is in full colour. The view is what is referred to as 3D, you are looking at the road ahead as if you where flying 20' above the road, your position is indicated by a blue arrow-head. Now comes the hard bit, driving, try not to stare at the screen as you will find that bends in the road and other traffic may impede your progress, this is normally referred to as "Being involved in a road traffic accident". OK we have now driven round the block, let's go somewhere. Touch the screen and up comes main menu 1 of 3, select Navigate to.., Now you have the option to type in the name of the town or city, select the town or city you are going to, you will then be given the street, again type to the street name, select the street and up comes House no type in house number, select "Done" You should now have a route summary, select done again and the map appears if by magic with the route highlighted now you are off and running.
You can also navigate to Points of Interest, the unit has locations of Bank Cash machines, Post Offices, Hotels, Car Parks and loads more, so if your in a town running low on fuel just go to points of interest and it will show you the nearest Garage. Better still you can create your own together with Favorite Locations.
Well that's the basics, really you should be reading the instructions and not relying on me to talk you through it, there are voice instructions, this is particularly good if you are driving through a town or city you have never been to before, lets face it you don't want to be looking at the screen to work out when you should turn left or right, there are a number of options regarding voice instructions Male of Female, I prefer the female, she never gets upset if you make a wrong turning, the unit just re-calculates the route to put you back on track.
Now for the bit that puts the Tom Tom 500 ahead of the competition. The TT500 is Bluetooth enabled, so you can pair the unit with your mobile phone provided it also has Bluetooth. This will make the TT500 a hands free unit as well as a navigation device. The TT500 does hold the settings for most Bluetooth enabled phones, but if yours is not on the list it is still possible to manually connect non listed phones, I know as my phone is not listed. It does not end there, there is another function its called "Traffic" using Bluetooth and GPRS the Traffic function when enabled, will periodically download traffic information and warn you of any accidents, road works etc on your route. This is a subscription service, there is a 30 day free trial, try it you will love it. The first time I used it I was about to set off on a short journey from my home to the local airport, some 7 miles away, yes I know the way but I thought I would try it. The unit displayed the route as normal, then I noticed it flash the word re-routing, the unit re-calculated the route and sent me a different way, some 3 miles longer than the usual route. At the same time my local radio broadcast a traffic report saying that there was a road traffic accident on my original route with 3 miles of slow moving traffic, so you could say I was a happy chappy, I was able to avoid the accident.
Is that it then you may ask, No. You can download weather reports of your destination, additional applications such as extra voices so you can have a wider choice, you can even get John Cleese to give you instructions.
I get the impression that Tom Tom has tried to Future Proof this range as best as possible it is very simple to upgrade the software via your home PC. I did not get all the functions going on the first day, take your time and get used to the unit first, you will not be disappointed.
As I have said you will have to register with the Tom Tom web site in order to have access to all of the functions some you may need some you may not. They do have Speed Camera points of interest available, this is also a subscription service, I am currently trying this out however there is a Tom Tom user web site that is independent of Tom Tom called "mytomtomgo" I would suggest you try this out as they give tips and info on using all Tom Tom devices and will also point you to sites giving FREE Speed Camera Points of interest.
I chose the Tom Tom 500 as I had additional maps for the USA that I used on the Tom Tom Classic so I should be able to use them on the TT500, and also the price was in the area I could afford.
With the popularity of GPS navigation devices in motor vehicles, there has been an increase in thefts, if you have such a device don't just unhook the unit from the cradle when you park up take the cradle off the window also, as by leaving the cradle in position this indicates to a thief that the unit will most likely be hidden in the glove box or under the seat
No doubt some people will find faults on things such as mapping errors (they appear in paper based maps also) but Tom Tom do appear to be trying to constantly improve the service they offer.
I hope that this account will be of some use to anyone considering the purchase of the Tom Tom 500, I am certainly impressed with the device.
If you find this review helpfull please please let me know, I would be interested in any comments
Well personally I thought that was an excellent review ... well organised, covered all the salient points, and was easy enough for even a non-gadgeteer to understand. Unfortunately I don't have a car ... but if I did, this would be a definite *must have* accessory. (I'd like mine to speak with a Jeremy Irons voice though). Cheers, Paula.