264 of 270 people found the following review helpful
I am very familiar with GPS units, though most of my experience with them is with hand-held sport units. I gave my wife a Garmin Nuvi for Christmas and it has been a great navigator so I was excited to work with the TomTom and compare it to the Nuvi. So far, while I cannot say one is better than the other, they are both different in the features they provide and they both navigate well. I do prefer the TomTom though that is a matter of personal preference at this stage.
The TomTom Start is a very solid unit and feels very well made. I am very pleased with the construction of the TomTom. It is built to handle a little jostling and a few bumps though I would make very effort not to drop it regardless. One thing I do not like, though, is the mounting cup. Yes, it does hold the TomTom in place very well and it is unlikely that it will "let go", but it is a little awkward to attach to the glass and the swivel is very stiff. Also, while trying to adjust the angle the mounting cup popped right off the TomTom and I had to reattach it.
Though I am no fan of the mounting cup, it does remove easily and this particular TomTom is no too big to fit in a third-party window mount. I have such a mount so I can work with that and be happy.
On power-on the TomTom comes up very quickly and is ready to go, a lot faster than I expected as the Nuvi is a little slower at acquiring satellites before it's ready.
The menu system on the TomTom is very simple and easy to use. The large, colorful touch buttons on the screen make finding the desired function straightforward. The first screen offered (after the welcome screen) gives just two choices: Plan Route and Browse Map. I especially like the Browse Map feature - when in an unfamiliar area it quickly shows proximity to gas stations, restaurants and other point of interest (which is very configurable). However, the points of interest list is not necessarily complete - there are at least two chain restaurants within a mile of the house that do not show at all on the browse map.
When not actually navigating, most of the time a user will spend is with the Plan Route function. There are a lot of options here. There is a selection for navigating Home, regardless of where you are, and since entering your home location is part of the start-up process this feature is at the ready almost immediately. Entering an address is likely going to be the normal method of selecting an endpoint, though there are other choices such as navigating to points of interest, a point on the map or even a latitude/longitude location. There is even the functionality to save a location in a Favorites list.
There are six choices for voices, though only three speak the street names - and of those, only one is in English (one of the others is Canadian French and the other is Latin-American Spanish). If you don't care about street names and you speak English you have choices. If you do care but do not like the built-in voices then you can go online and get more though there are associated fees.
I ran into some difficulty when I attached my TomTom to my computer, a Windows 7-based laptop. After messing with it I finally connected it to a 32-bit Vista machine and had no issues at all. I am not sure why it fought me on the Windows 7 machine but I am relatively sure that it has to do with my configuration, not the TomTom itself. (UPDATE: It was definitely on the Windows 7 side as I have had similar issues with other devices.)
Getting updates is easy. Once connected, TomTom Home (the application that interfaces to the TomTom) goes out and finds the updates, then with a minimum of interaction takes care of making said updates. Updating the map takes a while, which should be a given.
So, all this is great, but how does it navigate?
Voice aside, the navigation is good. The TomTom does a fine job of getting you from point A to point B using the conditions you stipulate: fastest route, shortest route, no highways, etc. The screen is acceptable in size to allow clear viewing of the map and the voice augments the visuals. I have not yet used it in the car to go to work; I am eager to see if it selects a better route for me than the one I have been using for the last 2-3 years.
The Tom Tom Start is my first exposure to TomTom's line of navigators and so far I am pleased with it. It's a little different than my wife's Garmin Nuvi, in ways I like. It's perfectly fine for navigation and finding points of interest, and the map updates on this model make this a device I will use for a long, long time.
UPDATE 03/20/2013: I recently had a good reason to use my TomTom in North Carolina - a family gathering in a neighboring town that was 10-12 miles away from the starting point. I was not at all familiar with the area so this would be a good test. All had printed directions, but we chose to allow the TomTom to take us there instead. The result was that we arrived sooner than others that left before us; we were guided on a very straightforward path that seemed more logical than the printed route (which came with a map). Going home that night, we again configured the TomTom to take us on the fastest route and it did so without a hitch - we knew that route very well already and the directions we were given were spot on.
And, I did use it to track to work to see if I could improve my route. With the exception of the first couple of miles (my commute is roughly 65 miles one-way), the route lined up almost exactly with the route I have been taking for years.
My opinion of the TomTom remains unchanged. It's a good navigator at a good price point and it has served me very well. My experience with TomTom has been very positive and I would not hesitate to recommend one.
255 of 270 people found the following review helpful
This is a pretty good GPS unit, there are some things to be aware of.
First, the positives:
The unit feels sturdy which I like. It's also quite simple to use and the interface is easy to understand and it has a large easy to read screen (larger than smartphones). It also comes with free lifetime traffic alerts and map updates as well as user-generated map updates.
It tells you the speed limit as well as recommended lane to be in in many circumstances.
There are TONS of voices you can download via the TomTom app on your computer however many of them cost $12.95. There are many free user-submitted ones however not many of them are good. Also, only the built-in computer voice can speak street names (although your next turn does display on the screen with the name of the street). The downloaded character voices (which include characters such as Homer or Marge Simpson, Yoda, Darth Vader, etc) will not speak the street names and only tell you things like "prepare to turn right in 200 yards". This makes sense if you think about it because it would not be possible for TomTom to synthesize each voice actors voice such that it could pronounce all the street names. They are only able to record a limited number of directions.
The built-in suction cup mount works quite well and is a nice design that seems to stick to the windshield quite well though I'm not sure how long it will hold up over time.
Now the negatives:
-If you are on a Mac, the TomTom software that comes preloaded on this unit does not work under OSX Lion (the current OS). Further, it took me a very long time to locate where on the TomTom website I could download the latest sync application. I finally found it, but using their website to locate it was almost like pulling teeth! I ended up doing a search on their homepage for the word 'Home' and was able to get the download link there.
-The gas station fuel prices service is only free for one year, then it turns into a paid service. But I could not for the life of me figure out how to get this feature to work. Even after downloading and installing it I could not find it on the unit whatsoever.
-There is only one included voice that can read the street names. TomTom should include several different voices that can read the street names so we can have more options.
-The downloaded voices seem much quieter in volume than the built-in voices.
-It comes with no case nor even a cloth bag! How am I supposed to store this when I'm not using it? The answer is you have to buy a separate case/bag for it or just store it loose, as is. It really should come with a case or at the very least, a cloth bag.
-The roadside assistance costs anywhere from $30. and up each time you use it. It may be okay for emergencies but if you already have an AAA card or equivalent that you pay annually for, you would be better off using that since that does not charge you per incident. This is not made clear in the product description nor on the TomTom website.
In all this is a good unit in this price range but if you have an iPhone you could purchase a software GPS app instead which maybe likely be fairly equivalent. You could even use a free GPS app such as Waze.
The competition with smartphone GPS apps is increasing and dedicated GPS units are going to have to be a lot more competitive in terms of included features and usability to remain relevant.
52 of 56 people found the following review helpful
Finally got my RMA and replacement after 5 weeks
Audio completely died after two weeks. Spent twenty minutes on the phone with a Tom Tom CS and determined that it was hardware failure. I received an email that they are processing it. after three weeks, despite sending follow up emails to Tom Tom, the issue is still hanging..
This is my fourth GPS unit, the other three are Garmins which are still working except two have outdated maps. Only one of my old GPS has a lifetime maps updates. This is my first Tom Tom and one of the first things I needed to do is get used to the interface. I still miss the physical volume knob control on my two oldest Garmins. This unit and my newer Garmin require you to go through the touch screen to adjust the volume, not very convenient when you are on the wheel.
My first task is to make sure it has an updated map. I plugged the USB (by the way it came with a USB cable, car adapter and dash/windshield mount) to the back of my iMac with Lion OS. It seemed to start the process but stalled. I then went to Tom Tom website and downloaded their software for Mac. This time it worked. Just make sure to set your computer not to sleep or it will result into an error. You will need to register first with your email and create a password. At first it looks like you would need to pay for the update, but click the PromoCode button and enter the code number from one of the insert papers that came with the unit. It was an hour download.
The quickest way to download the software is to type "Home" in their search button. The Top 5 questions and Answers will show no. 1 as "How to install HOME", click that and you will be given choices for Windows XP, Windows Vista and Mac. For Lion you would need TomTom HOME 2.8.2
I bought one celebrity voice as I like a little fun when on long drives. One thing I noticed is that it cost more than my Garmin when I bought Dora and SpongeBob (that was three years ago though, price may have changed). I chose Homer for $12.95 and installation is quite easy. One caveat, Homer is stupid and doesn't know the names of the streets, he just tells you to, "Turn right ahead!" But it is not Homer alone, most celebrity voices are like that. If you want the name of the streets to be announced, there are three built-in voices that do that, but only one in the English language. The other two are Soledad (Spanish) and Charlotte (French-Canadian). You also have the choice between male and female voices.
+ Fast satellite connection on boot
+ You can select to put the current time on the screen so you can have comparison with the arrival time. The difference (time left before arrival) is also displayed.
+ It tells you the speed limit on the road where you are. The part of the screen that tells you the speed turns RED to warn you if you are over the speed limit. It happens when you reached 5 miles over the limit. Just watch out for roads under construction where the speed limit is lower than the regular speed limit.
+ When you are about to turn, it will show you the number of lanes at the bottom-middle of the screen. Some are grayed out and one (or a few) in white. It tells you to take the lanes that are shown in white.
+ Lifetime maps and traffic
+ The price is right.
- No physical volume control
- The gas feature is only free for the first year
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2012
This is my first TomTom brand GPS, and will likely be my last. Please keep reading, as this is more a matter of preference than anything seriously wrong with the product itself.
I find myself impressed with the look and feel of the unit. It's seemingly well built, with nice matte surfaces and a good hefty feel. There is a dedicated section on the back for a nifty proprietary windshield mount. The only apparent physical button is the power button.
The instructions packed with the unit are sparse. They provide instructions for how to get the unit running, but that's about it. I had to go search for the HOME software that runs the unit on the internet. This is not a problem for me, but some less internet-savvy users will struggle here. Once I got the program downloaded, it was quick to install and worked flawlessly, though the initial setup of the unit and the update downloads you go through take a long time, and have a hefty multi-gig download. Once finished, though, my unit was fully up to date. One unusual thing is that my unit started up in a foreign language, and I had to guess at a button press. The next screen allowed me to choose my language, but I had unknowingly chosen "no" to attach to the computer, so I had to restart the unit to finish the updates.
The lifetime map updates work well and are super easy to get. In fact, the HOME software checks FOR you, every time you plug it in. I think that's a nice change from the Garmin problems people seem to have with map updating. There is a staggering amount of available content for download freely (map themes, car icons, POIs, vehicle icons, etc., and it's stupidly easy to install.
The unit comes packed with a USB cable and car USB charger. I would have liked to have seen an AC charger as well, but I suppose it's unnecessary.
The windshield mount is ingenious, and works really well. It's compact and easy to adjust, and sticks to the glass like nobody's business.
The graphics on-screen, to me at least, are very disappointing. The look very plain, drab, and amateurish. The roads are all angular, and the refresh rate is very, very slow. having said that, everything you need to know is right there, it just is not as pretty as some other manufacturers graphics. There is actually something to be said for this simplicity, as it actually is quite functional and customizable. There aren't as many bells and whistles as I'd like. For instance, there is no trip computer that I can find. This really is just a navigable GPS.
The routing is fairly fast and seems accurate enough for me, though it insists on routing me down roads that are less than stellar. Some of the routes it computes I would never think to take, though they are in reality faster than my normal comfortable routes that I'm used to.
The input screen is laborious, mostly because of the screen sensitivity. I find myself button pressing several times in a row because the screen did not sense my input. It really takes a heavy hand to press the on screen keyboard, which is strange because it does not seem this way on other menus. I wonder if it's just that I've gotten used to touch screen phones and their fancy glass screens.
The real deal breaker for me is the screen itself. While it's large enough and bright enough, the matte anti reflective surface has gone a step too far. While it does not reflect, if ANYTHING bright is in front of it, like your white shirt, or a shaft of sunlight sitting across it, or a reflection from your dash, it completely washes out. I'm talking about it turns white. The unit is useless in full sun, which kills it for me. I bought this TomTom because it was cheap, had lifetime maps, and I needed an expendable GPS for mounting on my motorcycle. However, I cannot use it for that purpose because of this screen. I've used car GPSs before on my bikes, and never have I seen a screen this prone to washout. It's fine in the car, unless the sun hits it wrong or you have a convertible, I suppose.
For this reason, I won't have another TomTom, but that's because it doesn't fit my specific needs. If you're looking for a capable GPS that's customizable to a degree, is cheap, and has up to date maps all the time, and you don't mind the problems I mentioned above, this one will fit the bill.
EDIT: I repurposed this GPS into a full on car GPS, the way it was intended to be used. I've since grown accustomed to (and quite fond of) TomTom's simplistic approach to UI design. I've even gotten a TomTom Rider for the motorcycle and reviewed it elsewhere. The screen washout is not nearly the issue in the car as it was on a bike, especially if you're thoughtful about where and at what angle you mount it. I've changed my rating to a 4 from a 3. If you've not used TomToms before you may have a prolonged adjustment period, but I quite like and prefer this to a Garmin now.
26 of 31 people found the following review helpful
I have had a Garmin for nearly 6 years. I decided to try this Tom-Tom because it was available on the Vine and I was looking for a lifetime map and traffic GPS device. After a couple of weeks, I can say that it is quite underwhelming.
The first trip was to a State Park and we ended up on some dirt road miles from the Park roads. I then switched to the Garmin and it immediately redirected me from my current dirt road position to the front entrance of the park.
The second trip was from the South suburbs of Pittsburgh to my home in the East Surburbs. On this trip it never got settled and was forever directing me to turn into the Monongahela River. This was taking an Interstate highway the whole way. I'm not sure what screwed it up, but it never got on track.
The third trip was from the Eastern hinterlands to the near the airport. The timing immediately told me that I would arrive at 11:37am. I looked at the route and didn't like it, so I drove my own route. After 10 minutes of driving with the GPS constantly trying to re-route me to the original route, we got to a point where the device said I was going to arrive at 11:50am. Then suddenly we arrived at the PA Turnpike entrance and the route changed to my own route and the time of arrival changed to 11:27am. This was after driving 10 minutes in the "supposedly" wrong direction.
The fourth trip was from a park to my house. I programmed the Garmin and the Tom Tom and both gave the exact same routes, but the Tom Tom said that it would take an additional 8 minutes than the Garmin. The Tom Tom then kept changing slowly until it finally matched the Garmin's time of arrival. The original time of the Garmin was correct.
The fifth trip was of short distance into a crowded area of shopping centers. It was good until the near the end of the trip and then it sent me in the wrong direction and even after the building that I wanted was on my left, the GPS was still giving me directions to another road that would take me around in a circle and back to where I currently was.
So my analysis is this: Tom Tom has bugs in their routing formulae. Its time calculations are also not consistent. The voice is excellent and the directions are stated in a very clear and organized manner. The driver is warned well in advance of the upcoming turns. However, it seems to get lost easily without warning.
I'm somewhat torn as some of this might be corrected with a software upgrade or map upgrade. I'll re-post in a couple of months with an update on this device. Right now, I'll take the 6 year old Garmin without upgraded maps over this Tom Tom. I rated it a 2.5 and graded up because I like some of the way it was designed.
UPDATE: After continued use, I now only use this device for grins. It hasn't selected the correct (fastest) route around Pittsburgh in another 5 outings. It is outrageous how poor the mapping software is in this product.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on February 6, 2013
If you buy this, when you TRY and download TOMTOM Home, which is needed to update your device and use all of those FREE lifetime maps you just bought, you may get an error 1152 when trying to download their file. If you do, your done. TOMTOM has no clue what to do and nothing I found on the internet helped. There are plenty of questions about it but NO useful answers. Believe me, I tried them all.
Also, I have a TOMTOM that is about 6 years old. When using that device, my HOME is perfect on the device. Now I program HOME and it tells me I have to drive another 1/4 mile up the street to be home. Good thing I know where I live. Garmin, was no better. I guess I'll try a Magellen.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on July 9, 2013
Bought my husband a Garmin, so I decided to buy the Tom Tom for me so we could compare the two GPS systems. Liked the price of the Tom Tom along with the lifetime maps of both the US and Canada. However, that is where the love affair ended. The maps on the Tom Tom are not up-to-date or accurate. I thought maybe it was just an old map so I decided to update it. When I did, it wiped out all of my "favorite" places that were stored and the "updated" maps were no better. These maps were so outdated for our area that it didn't have streets that have been here for years and also didn't list major shopping areas that have also been here for years. The final straw was when it had me turn right and make a "U-Turn" at an intersection where I clearly could have just turned left. It also did not display the local speed limits like it shows on the picture (until I was on a major interstate). The Tom Tom support staff tried hard to help me, but they could not do anything about the terrible maps. Sadly, I had to return it. I got a Garmin like my husband's and love it. Wanted to love the Tom Tom, but didn't.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Let me start by saying that I am fairly computer savvy (I don't work in IT, but everyone in the office comes to me with problems when IT isn't around and I'm generally able to help them). I spent over 90 minutes attempting to connect my unit to my computer (PC, not Mac). I followed the instructions. No luck. Then I checked the official support pages and forums for help. After following those instructions, I had no luck. Then I reset the unit, uninstalled any previously installed programs, and tried again. No luck. I checked around the root menu of the unit. No luck.
Because I cannot connect this unit to my computer, I cannot, as of this point, access the "Lifetime Maps" promise, which is disappointing.
All of this being said, the unit is a nice looking piece of hardware that is both lightweight and sturdy. It loads quickly and I have had good luck getting satellite reception. It comes with very competent mounting hardware. The whole unit (including power cord and base) could easy be stored in one of those lined postal envelopes, and tucked away in a briefcase or bag safely. (To be honest, if the postal envelope was "distressed" enough, you could probably leave it in your car and no one would even notice - but don't blame me if this strategy doesn't work!)
If you care about connectivity and free maps and such, then the score for this is really a TWO. If you are the type of person that never connects a GPS to your computer, and doesn't care about free maps, then the score is really a FOUR. Hence, I have averaged the scores when I rated this.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2013
I bought this GPS to replace my Garmin Nuvi 40 which didn't have map updates. This device was actually cheaper with included lifetime updates than a lifetime update package from Garmin.
The maps themselves are incomplete, even on the Tom Tom website. I haven't used Mapshare, so this issue may not be so severe, but was still quite disappointed that the Tom Tom "current" maps are missing streets that my 2 year old maps on my Garmin had already.
The interface itself in not as intuitive as the Garmin. The garmin had a "back" button, which allowed easy scrolling through the menus. The Tom Tom doesn't have any simple way to navigate the menus.
The keyboard is not as sensitive as the Garmin. Unless I'm paying close attention, I don't notice whether the device recognized my typing or not.
The windshield mount is practically useless, and very poorly designed. (I guess "Made in China" sums that one up).
The one single benefit of this unit is that the routes that it takes are much better planned than the Garmin ones. The Garmin insisted on taking main roads, which often weren't the shortest and had traffic. The Tom Tom will use back roads.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on February 17, 2014
I owned a Tom-Tom for four years, used it every day in my job and I just loved all the features it had to offer over all other GPS, and so when it finally broke down I knew I had to have another one, so I ordered this one, boy was I disappointed.
My first mistake was thinking all Tom-Toms are the same, and the second was not taking notice of the name "Start" and the third mistake was not paying better attention to the features it had or didn't have to offer.
This GPS, turns out, is a strip down version of the old one I had, making it much easy for anyone who has never owned a GPS before to use, it so simple even a child could handle it.
The last GPS I own allowed me to preprogram and store several files each containing several destinations and randomly rearrange when I need to, so if I had to travel to twenty different place in one day I could preprogram all my route for the day and store it, and because I do travel a lot in my business, this made by day and my job, go easier. This model; however, does not have that feature, one destination at a time is all it can do, unless you want to save it as a "Favorite."
The last model I had also allowed me to set different voices for each alert available, this one does not, it just gives out a simple tone and that's it. It also let me set up to different speed restriction setting, this model only has one and it is pre-set.
All in all, it not a bad unit, it's just that it has nothing really to offer over the other GPS in the market. I was accustom and enjoy all the extra features and control my old Tom-Tom had to offer, and I miss it, and I would have return this to Amazon, but it came from an outside vender and I felt getting in touch with them to return the GPS because I didn't like it, would turn out to be too much of a hassle, so I live with my mistake and learn from it.
So if you want something simple, this is it;otherwise, keep looking and comparing features.