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Customer Review

1,305 of 1,363 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Still needs a few improvements to make it a great gps unit, December 17, 2009
This review is from: TomTom XXL 540S 5-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator (Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
I bought the TomTom XXL 540S a few weeks ago. This gps is the big brother to the TomTom XL 340S. This gps just has the bigger and brighter 5" screen.

I have very mixed feelings about the gps. There are many things that I like about it, but there are also so many small details and functions that are lacking on it that TomTom either decided not to work on or decided to exclude. These little things that are missing drive me absolutely crazy at times and I don't know if I can stand them or not. I may consider returning this gps and getting either a Garmin or Magellan instead. I don't know yet. I really hope TomTom starts addressing some of these issues.

Some of my pros vs cons are below which I hope will help others who are trying to decide on a gps.


+ IQ Routes (TomTom uses historical speed data for roads based on the time of day and day of the week, so that it can give you the best possible route)
+ Big 5" Screen, which is easy to see.
+ Very loud speaker. (Option in Volume Preferences to link the volume to your cars speed if you want)
+ Satellite acquition is fast (less than 10 sec for me). Shows usually around 9 satellites.
+ Map Color can be changed.
+ Can change the color of the car symbol in 3D mode
+ Auto Day/Night mode changes the brightness and color.
+ Ability to prepare a route with any Depart and Destination coordinates.

+ Shows the current street that your on at the bottom of the screen and the next street to turn on in the top right corner.

+ Advanced Lane Guidance on the highway is displayed really nicely. Shows an arrow with the lane that you need to be in and also sometimes shows a 3D sign for your exit. It is nice and big and it stays on the screen long enough to be viewed so that its clear to see where you need to go.

+ Status bar can be customized to how you like it. It can be displayed either horizontally or vertically. Can show the remaining time, remaining distance, current time, arrival time, your speed and the speed limit, distance to your next turn, compass, ect.

+ TTS (text to speech) instructions are very helpful in letting you know where to turn and also preparing you for your next turn as well. For instance it will say something like "After one qurter mile turn right". Then as you get closer to the street it will say "Turn right Main St. Then take the second left"


- POI (Points of Interest) Map Screen shows the POI name, street and cross street, phone, city, and state. But it gives NO street addresses! So you don't know the address or what side of the street the POI is on, unless you call the place ahead of time and ask. All you get is a checkered flag shown in the middle of the street with TomTom saying "you have reached your final destination". On the Go model the POI Map Screen has a "Details" button that shows the street address, zip code, and food cuisine type for instance. Why TomTom decided to remove this on this model I have no idea.

- No AutoZoom enable/disable option (like on the Go model). You can manually zoom in or out on the map, but about 5 sec later AutoZoom will kick in and take you right back to what TomTom wants you to see. Its very frustrating because I like to zoom in and out sometimes so that I can see more map detail, but TomTom won't allow me to for anymore then about 5 sec. When I turn on the gps the zoom level that TomTom has picked is so bad that most all of the street outlines around me have completely vanished from the screen. All that I see are a bunch of street names just floating around on the map with no streets being shown.

- Doesn't speak which side of the street your destination is on. (If you enter a street address for a destination however it does show a little arrow on the map pointing to the left or right hand side of the street when you are approaching your destination. Along with a little checkered flag on the side of the street your destination is on.)

- Change Preferences screen is 6 pages deep and only has a button to advance foward to the next page. There is no back button. So if you say accidently go past the screen you wanted to be on you have to then press the foward button 5 more times just to get back to that page.

- No simple way to get into the Browse as Text turn lists display from the main screen.

- Browse as Text route instructions, the text and arrows for the turn list is just way to small. Also there is no Auto Scroll function. To view the next page of new upcoming turns you have to scroll down the list manually yourself.

- POI Map Screen in Night mode shows the cross street text in black, which is extremely difficult to see unless you get very close to the screen.

- 3D mode during the day the maps background brightness isn't consistent across the whole screen. There are noticable lines across the screen where you can see the various brightness stages. Towards the bottom of the map its the brightest and then as you pan up the screen it gets slightly darker.

- Can't enter the street name untill after you have entered the city. Its bad news if you know the street but unsure of the city. You should be able to search for the street in any city near you or near the city that you entered (if it was incorrect).

- TTS (text to speech) of multiword street names sounds sometimes garbled.
- TTS pronounces some words and streets pretty poorly.
- Can't change the color of the car symbol in 2D mode.
- Can't search restaurants by cuisine type.
- No MicroSD memory card slot for expansion. Room is pretty tight with only 2GB of internal flash memory. After removing all of the voices except for computer voice Susan and removing most of the car symbols. I still only have 105mb of space free remaining.
- Only supports USB 1.1 transfers. So when you install maps or performing backups its very slow.

Miscellaneous info: gps chipset on mine was a GL2 BCM4750 (Global Locate 2), The CPU speed is 266MHZ. 64MB of RAM.
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Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 41 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 20, 2009 6:26:41 PM PST
Fantaztic1 says:
Good details. Makes deciding easy.

Posted on Dec 21, 2009 6:10:06 AM PST
Radio Man says:
Very helpful review. If it's true about not being able to specify what TYPE of restaurant..that can be a deal breaker for me. I recently purchased the Magellan Maestro 4700 I LOVE it overall..but what drives me crazy on custom favorites..ones I input go to the ADDRESS BOOK. Address book is fine but unlike my older Garmin the address book does not tell you how far each favorite saved is from your current location. I was thinking to try the TomTom xxl 540s as I thought maybe you can see how far each saved CUSTOM favorite is from your location and or other favorites. Your review was very I am not sure if it's worth trying the xxl 540 due to all your cons. Garmin has been really good ..but I needed a gps to give me more TIME to change lanes etc..sounds like this TomTom can do that..and the Magellan is great about actual navigation. Guess there's no perfect unit yet..

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 26, 2009 11:06:34 AM PST
j. says:
Radioman. I just checked out the points of interest for restaurants on the 540S and it does provide the distance from my location. The type of restaurant is not indicated, but telephone numbers are provided...

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 27, 2009 9:08:27 AM PST
Radio Man says:
j. Thanks..maybe I wrote it wrong. The Magellan 4700 DOES show the distance of restaurants, gas stations your current location, what I meant was the ones YOU save..say like a friend's house.or if you are in sales, a customer's location. Those address book entries don't say how far they are from your current location..GARMIN'S do. Magellan DOES show "the type of Cuisine" AND how far.and telephone number on that point at least seems to be a bit better or MORE info than the Tom Tom...

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2010 6:24:04 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 4, 2010 7:48:48 AM PST
Pete says:
Radio Man,

TomTom's Favorites list only shows the favorites names listed in alphabetical order. Nothing else, its just very basic. You would have to go into each favorite separately to see how far away each one is from your current location.


Well I decided to keep the TomTom XXL 540S. I really like the 5" screen. Its very easy to see and read from. The most impressive thing about the gps is its routing. Which I will talk a little more about below. I have raised my overall star rating to 3 stars and would raise it higher if TomTom started to improve their software some more.

I also received the Garmin Nuvi 855 for Christmas, so I have been testing the two quite a bit lately to see how they compare to each other and to find out what their strengths and weaknesses are.

In terms of routing, the TomTom is by far the clear winner. The Garmin has routed me down side streets a couple of times which it thinks is the fastest route when in fact it is not. For example I was coming home from a friends house a couple of nights ago and the TomTom had me turn left at the main street in town which is the logical and best way to go home. But the Garmin wanted me to go past main street and then turn left down a small residential side street (which I know well). The turn requires you to turn into two lanes of oncoming traffic which could potentially be dangerous and could take more time waiting for traffic to clear depending on the time of the day. The side street that it suggested I turn on has 4 stop signs which really slows things down. The Garmin shows this side street as being .1 miles shorter and 6 sec faster then just going down main street which has no lights or stops. In simulation mode, Garmin shows that you can go down this side street at an average speed of 29 mph which is way to optimistic. The TomTom on the other hand in simulation mode shows that you can go around 17 mph which is much more accurate of an average speed. So while the Garmin will ultimately get you to where you want to go, some times it will not be the best route to take. Garmin doesn't include in their mapping any real world historical speed data for roads like the TomTom has with their IQ Routes. This is a huge advantage for TomTom.

Also I must say that the Advance Lane Guidance info on the Garmin has also been very disappointing. In all my travels on the highway and doing simulations of routes I have only seen it shown one time. It showed a 3D exit sign on the highway once. On the TomTom on the other hand I have seen Advanced Lane Guidance help all over the place. I have seen the 3D exit signs on the highway about half dozen times and the Lane Guidance arrows in the lower left hand corner of the screen has come up now at least 20 times on the highway and even on some regular streets to let me know what lane I needed to be in. I have been very impressed by this. I've found the TomTom to be just a little bit better too at vocalizing which lane you need to be in for an upcoming turn. The TomTom has been good too about giving enough heads up to let you know when you need to make your turn. The Garmin is pretty good most of the time at vocalizing when you need to make a turn, but I have noticed a few times that it has not given me much notice when to turn untill I was almost right at the street.

The Garmin pronounces street names really well compared to the TomTom. Garmins "Jill" voice sounds a little more mechanical compared to TomToms "Susan". I would personally prefer to listen to Susans voice then to Jills, if only Susan could pronouce street names more naturally and clearly.

I have to get going here soon. So I will try to follow up later with some more info.

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 4, 2010 3:29:03 PM PST
Radio Man says:
Hey Pete, Thanks for all this great info. I never had a TomTom so maybe my next GPS I'll get one. In the store it just seemed a bit complicated vs Magellan and Garmin. I know complicated actually means you can customize it much more, not just make you nuts. The Magellan 4700 has lane assist and it's always on and working. It even will come on taking a regular boring exit..not just a complicated highway. Perhaps TomTom has better routing than Magellan as well, cause my Magellan seems to pick really weird routes sometimes vs what I would choose. BUT the Magellan is SO super quick with that quick spell feature..also shows you all no need dig thru menus..ala TomTom? Then if you see a turn you don't like you quickly hit get rerouted quick! In the end..I guess each GPS has strengths and weaknesses. Still I feel it is important on searching restaurants in a strange city to also "tell you the Cuisine." TomTom does not tell you according to what I that stupid thing may, be a deal breaker for me. All GPS's will eventually get you to the destination..guess it then comes down to features you need..and certainly accurate routing is very important. I await your update of the new Nuvi you got...nothing's perfect yet I think..:)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 3, 2010 5:06:06 AM PST
[Deleted by the author on Apr 15, 2010 6:34:48 PM PDT]

Posted on Mar 10, 2010 5:41:11 AM PST
JDN says:
Great review and comments in threads. I'd like to add my observations of the XXL 540s. I have a Garmin Nuvi 880 and before that I've had a string of Garmin GPS units all the way back to the original monochrome StreetPilot. Also I've owned Dash, TeleNav ShotGun, Mio, TomTom GO 740s and reviewed many other aftermarket devices as part of my previous jobs in OEM navigation with Ford, Hyundai and several Tier 1s.

I've been a Garmin advocate until my latest Nuvi 880 with "lifetime" subscription to MSN (purchased July/2008 on Amazon as a pre-release for $800!). Garmin has a serious design flaw in this unit that should have been recalled. In semi-technical terms, it's called a "memory leak". After using the unit for a time, you'll start experiencing slow response from the unit to your button pushes (button latency). It continues to degrade to the point where it takes minutes for the unit to respond and then finally locks-up and needs to be rebooted. So, I find myself rebooting the Nuvi about every week as I notice it start to slow down. This is bad memory management in Garmin's design
But this isn't a Garmin review, so I will stop here. It's just to let you know my base for comparison and why I have jumped on the TomTom wagon.

Additional Pros on top of what other people have posted:
1) Love the Map Corrections feature. I've Added POIs, corrected POI locations, added street speed limits, corrected Street names. Awesome!
2) The over Speed Limit function helps me watch my lead foot. It'll probably save me from gettting pulled over for speeding.
3) The XXL 540 screen seems brighter than the TT740 I owned, so if you've felt this was an issue with TomTom before (I did), then check this one out. Screen brightness now on par with Garmin Nuvi 880.
4) All the customization and options seem overwhelming and complicated at first, BUT once you're familair with the system and set-up the preferences, you end up with a GPS unit very tailored to your tastes. Garmin's original StreetPilots had more of this customization and advanced features, but they removed them since the Nuvi series on. They should have allowed users the option of Simple or Advanced operation.
5) I like the warn when near POI function. I have mine set-up for school zones as an extra pre-caution. I just wish there was the ability to set-up the range of time the warning is active (exclude 6pm to 6am, weekends).
6) The routes and arrival times are the best of all the GPS units I have owned or evaluated (including OEM). Not perfect, but better than competition.
7) The maps are more "readable" than othe GPS units (I use 2D mode). The selection a graphics for streets, railroads, highways and other map features is more legible and intuitive than others. I didn't like Garmins 3D, so I never used it. I'll give TomToms 3D a whirl and see if it's better. The Mio 3D was beter than the Garmin Nuvi.
8) Having the Quick Menu feature is a nice option. I currently have Report Safety Camera, Mark Location of Map Error and Add Position to Favorites.

Now the Cons:
1) I'm going gang-up on the con others have mentioned about not announcing which side of the street for any destination (POI or known location). Not only does this prevent you from getting in the correct lane for pulling into the POI, it's a bit dangerous as you scan back and forth across wide streets trying to spot the POI. Worse, it can be almost useless. We have a location where two large malls are directly across the street from each another. When I approached the POI I had selected (a store) TomTom announced I had arrived at my destination, BUT I didn't know which mall to turn into. I had to telephone the store to find out which mall to select. Not very efficient.
However, the map databases might be partially to blame. I notice my Garmin too often announces the wrong side of the street for the destination. Perhaps TomTom doesn't trust their TeleAtlas map data base as much as Garmin trusts their NavTeq map database.
2) You can't directly scroll on the map to pan around and search the map. It requires three button pushes to ge to the Browse Map feature. If you were browsing the map before, it takes you to that last location where you left it. Perhaps convenient in some circumstances, but three more button pushes required get to the Current Location. Also, map scrolling isn't very smooth and as you scroll the new map area is not immediately visable until you release your finger from the screen. This makes the operation seem so slow as you wait for the new map to be drawn.
3) The number of POIs is very extensive, but I agree, there needs to be sub-categories (Poi>Restaurant>Type>List). You can't get to Grocery or Convenience Store from the Shop POI. Not very efficient!
4) The TomTom windshield mount is clumsy. It's not powered, so you have to find the darn USB cord (usually on the floor somewhere), plug it in then try to snap into the mount. At night, this is difficult and requires much more time to get underway for your journey. When you are in a bad area, it seems like an eternity to do this procedure. Sure, it's more money for a powered mount. Perhaps they could put a LED in the USB side of the cord that either extinguishes or is coverd once the unit is plugged-in.
5) TomTom doesn't have the Garmin feature where you push and hold the "Back" button for a couple seconds to get back to the main screen. On the TomTom, it requires multiple back>back>back>back presses.

If TomTom could fix the issues listed in this post, they'd have the most awesome GPS. They are closer that Garmin is to achieving this goal.

Well, that's it for now. As I find more items, I'll try to post. Hope this is helpful.

In reply to an earlier post on Mar 31, 2010 1:00:01 AM PDT
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Posted on Apr 15, 2010 6:40:59 PM PDT
Louie D says:
Pete, You're a good salesman. I liked your complete and fair review of the XXL 540s, but do you think it would be worth getting the XXL 540TM (lifetime traffic and lifetime qtrly maps) here for $259 when it is available in a few weeks ? Some of your cons would not bother me, but how bad really is the TTS ? Many reviews I've read say they use the fancy voices which do not give the street name, and the sound is much better. Is the voice garbled only when it is more than one word ? Do you think it would be a deal breaker if someone really liked to hear the street names? Thanks
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