Customer Review

3,289 of 3,319 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars My first TomTom and won't be my last!, May 13, 2010
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This review is from: TomTom XXL 540TM 5-Inch Widescreen Portable GPS Navigator (Lifetime Traffic & Maps Edition)(Discontinued by Manufacturer) (Electronics)
History with GPS Navigation:
I've used built-in Honda (Alpine), standalone Garmin, and Ford 'Sync' audio GPS navigation devices.
I loved the Honda navi for its size, and I hated it because updates were sparse and expensive.
I loved the Garmin for being up-to-date but I hated it because it always seemed to change its mind a lot, or direct me into strange areas.
I didn't really care for the Ford Sync navigation, as it wasn't a visual navi. Included for free with the car, but I choose not to use it. Maybe only good as a 'back-up' in case the TomTom fails-- though I don't think it ever will.

I sold my Honda and needed a new navigation system.

I bought the XXL 540TM for...
1) Screen size
2) Frequent map updates (4x a year + Map Share)
3) Ability to customize it (lots of settings to play with)
4) Well Known & Quality (I've always heard 'Garmin' is the best, but when I've tried Garmin, I didn't like it!)
5) Lane Guidance
6) IQ Routes (figuring out which roads were best to use)

By the way, in case you were wondering the "TM" stands for "Traffic" and "Maps", indicating there are free traffic and map updates. I had NO problems entering the "Lifetime Maps & Traffic" code provided.

What's in the box:
-> GPS device itself
-> Window mount (with suction cup)
-> Dashboard 'sticky' pad
-> USB cable (to connect to PC)
-> Car Power adapter
-> Set Up Guide
-> Slip of paper with 1 code, valid for Lifetime Map/Traffic updates

The first thing I did was hook it up to my PC and run all the updates. (A newer map was available + GPSFix + Map Share.) It took about 1.5 hours to update all of it. After it was done, it took up about 96% of the 2GB built-in memory. (I didn't check how much it used before updating.) Not a lot of 'wiggle room' to add more features. No built-in SD slot to add memory, either.

One major downside is that I don't like how easily the device 'pops off' the windshield mount. (See further explanation under "The BAD" below.) I am considering getting a (non-adhesive) weighted/padded mount to put on the dashboard.

The GOOD:
+ Screen size met my expectations. Easy to see everything on the screen

+ Startup time (including time to lock onto satellites) seemed fairly quick

+ Roads were up-to-date and labeled properly. Didn't find any errors

+ Allowed me to customize just about everything I wanted to.

+ It functioned perfectly as a Navigation device. This is where I felt Garmin was lacking. With all the features a Garmin has, it never seemed to 'navigate' the way I liked. Of all the features, the 'Navigation' is the most important, and TomTom does it well from what I've seen.

+ It pronounced some 'hard to say' roads perfectly! I'm sure I'll find some that are not right, but Garmin/Sync had a hard time saying road names.

The "OK":
+- Traffic is only updated by RDS (sent by local FM radio stations). This is what I paid for. RDS updated only major roadways (Interstates) and marked some accidents / road construction / road closures. It only worked when the power cord was plugged into the accessory power port on the car (as the cord functions as the antenna.) I would have preferred TomTom's GO/Live line of products which has a built-in 'cell phone' to grab more detailed and current traffic information. But, these were out of my price range. The XXL 540TM does "just enough" traffic to make it useful.

+- It takes some time to calculate a long distance route. But, I also know that it is using IQ Routes to choose the best roads. It seemed 1 or 2 seconds longer than it needed to be, but certainly not a huge problem.

The BAD:
- Internal memory not expandable. 96% used up without any 'extras' installed? Hope I don't need more...

- When browsing maps (dragging my finger) it is a bit 'laggy'. I don't expect perfection, but it seemed sluggish. Fortunately, I don't plan to browse maps often, so I'll deal with it. I tried turning off Points Of Interest (POIs), and turning off 3D maps (using 2D maps instead), and it really didn't seem to make a difference. I'm impressed with the detail it showed, but wasn't thrilled about waiting 10 seconds for the entire screen to finish 'drawing'.

- Windshield mount seemed to 'pop off' too easily. When suctioned to the windshield, I have to use 2 hands to 'hold' the GPS and keep it attached to the mount while I adjust. I suppose it is useful for people who leave the mount stuck on the windshield. I prefer to remove the device AND the mount and hide them when not in use. (I figure a thief will know that the mount is for a GPS, and that the GPS is hidden in the car somewhere.)

I have yet to try this out on a LONG or COMPLEX road trip, but I have no doubts from what I've seen so far that it will be just fine.

OVERALL, I'm happy with the device. Happier than I was with Sync, Alpine, or Garmin. I consider myself an 'Average' navigation user (not a beginner, not an expert) and will update the review after using it more.

Sidenote: I ordered through Amazon, using "Beach Camera" seller. It was delivered ONE (1) business day after I ordered it! I used 'Standard' shipping, and FedEx (Home service) had it delivered fast. Very pleased with Beach Camera's shipping emails and speed!

=========================
UPDATE 11/18/2010:
I thought I'd provide an update after 6 months of using this TomTom device:

1) I am still very happy! It's the 1st GPS I've used that "just works" and I'm glad I don't have to mess with it.

2) I've mastered the technique of adjusting the screen position while simultaneously holding the suction base. Back in May when I first reviewed it, I was concerned about how 'easily' it popped off. Now, it is still annoying, but I've minimized the amount of times it happens by holding it appropriately. It doesn't annoy me enough to buy a different stand/holder.

3) The suction cup still holds on quite well. It hasn't fallen off yet. (I attach/detach from the windshield every time I use it.)

4) Traffic Receiver: I've been satisfied with alternate directions/road closings. It is quite accurate, even in rural areas where I didn't expect road closures to be displayed.

5) Long-distance travel: I've used it for a few long trips (1000+ miles) and had no problems whatsoever with it. I found the 'estimate' of time to be extremely accurate. It was no more than 10 minutes off. (I calculated the time I stopped for gas and added it to the original estimate.)

6) Battery life: I've found the battery life to be holding a little less charge than it used to, but nothing that I feel is alarming. Most of the time, I have the power cord connected anyway (so I can grab the traffic updates with the antenna built into the cord.)

Overall, this is my favorite GPS. I've been hooking it up to the computer less and less (meaning I am forfeiting new 'map share' corrections). I even decided NOT to get the latest map update. Why? Well, I feel everything is working just fine the way it is. I may update if I have the free time. This is in sharp contrast to my previous GPS experience, where I'd pray for updates to fix stubborn issues. The TomTom is just fine and I have had no major complaints. I am NOT in the market to buy a new GPS because I'm finally satisfied.

=========================
UPDATE 06/03/2011:
Here is an update after 1 year of using this device!

1) The battery is holding less charge than last year, but it still lasts 6-8 hours without needing a charge. Not a problem for me, because I use the car adapter most of the time.

2) I drove to Canada, and the maps were accurate! In fact, I liked that TomTom still told me the speed limits of the roads. (Sign said 100kph speed limit, TomTom showed 60 mph limit.) I found this helpful so I didn't have to squint at the tiny "kph" on my car's speedometer. I've made this trip before in the past (without my TomTom), and I chose to "Avoid Tolls" on this trip. TomTom found a very nice route that I had not known about. It used IQ Routes to get me around the rush-hour traffic too! I used the "Itinerary" feature for the first time, and found it worked quite well. I programmed 6-7 destinations the night before my trip. The next day, I simply opened the Itinerary and it asked me if I wanted to travel to the 1st one. I also ended up re-ordering a destination to later in the trip, and found an option to re-order. Very helpful!

3) I updated my map just once (right before my trip to Canada). I installed this on a new computer. I was worried that TomTom wouldn't 'know' that I was eligible for free maps on my new computer. But, I had no problem whatsoever! For those of you who don't know, all your map updates, downloadable color schemes, icons (etc) are done through the TomTom HOME software. You create an account with TomTom, and the TomTom HOME software uses that account to 'know' you're eligible for Lifetime Map updates.

4) I did discover 1 piece that doesn't work for me. I cannot use the "Safety Cameras" add-in from TomTom HOME. I haven't researched it though. I got an error message when trying to add it. No big deal for me, since I only planned to add it for curiosity. A quick Google search didn't reveal it as a widespread problem. I'll update this review if I find a cause/solution.

5) Yes, the GPS still "pops off" the mount too easily. It bugs me from time to time, but still not enough to buy a different mount/base.

6) Am I in the market for a new GPS? Nope! Still very happy with this one. (I got sick of every other GPS within 6 months of using it. But, knowing I still love this TomTom after 1 year says a lot!)

Good job TomTom, you exceeded my high expectations. Thank you!

=========================
UPDATE 02/23/2012:

Aproaching 2 years with this GPS. Nothing much to report. Still going strong! I made 2 more 1000+ mile trips since my last update. I have had NO problems with this TomTom GPS. And, I am still receiving free map updates without a problem. (My fear was that the "Lifetime maps" would be a problem, but it has thankfully proven NOT to be true!)

I still recommend this GPS, after ~2 years of usage. I have no regrets and feel it is a good investment.

=========================
UPDATE 11/19/2012:

2.5 year update!
No problems. Still going strong. It is still being used regularly (5-6 times a month). The only thing I will add is some advice! Ever sit there and wait for your GPS to find the satellites? If you plug in your GPS once a week to your computer, TomTom will suggest 'QuickFixGPS' updates. Updating weekly will speed it up, because the updates tell your GPS exactly where to find the satellites that week!
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Comments

Tracked by 19 customers

Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-10 of 66 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jun 15, 2010 8:15:40 AM PDT
RA says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2010 5:38:55 AM PDT
G.S. says:
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Jun 27, 2010 9:30:38 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Aug 8, 2010 1:37:19 PM PDT
RA says:
@G.S.: See my review of 740TM Live here on Amazon for why I returned it. Don't want to retype it all here. http://www.amazon.com/review/RD1HN924JKHNS/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm

Posted on Jun 27, 2010 6:44:26 PM PDT
Marika Dye says:
I hate Garmin... I don't even know which one I have right now... but I am totally disgusted. I won't go on a long tagent tho but this thing gets me more lost than my own brain does. That's sad! Our other one broke when it told us to go one route that we knew was wrong and we went the other. I think we are ready to try a Tom Tom and you gave really great advice. maybe you should get a free one for such a great review posting... seriously.... if I could vote for you getting one I would. Great job! Thank you so much for this help. I am so scared of gps systems now. Most of the time now I use my phone ... problem there is I can't talk on the phone the whole ride. Does this Tom Tom have voice recognition? Or is there one that does?

Posted on Jul 13, 2010 8:05:54 PM PDT
Anyone who does this much work to describe a gps system to help others is awesome! Thanks for all the insight! I dont have to read the manual now!

In reply to an earlier post on Jul 25, 2010 6:05:56 AM PDT
I have a garmin 765 and absolutlely hate it...I'm looking at tom tom for a possible replacement but am a little skittish ..I do agree w/your assessement of garmin...I think they are overrated...

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 8, 2010 6:08:44 AM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 8, 2010 12:27:57 PM PDT
Roadhunter says:
Too bad Amazon is using your review for the TomTom XXL 540M. It's on sale today for under $120, and people think it has the traffic option. Your review of the TM ads to their confusion. Not your fault, of course.

Posted on Aug 19, 2010 6:09:12 PM PDT
Leutchik says:
I have an XL 340s and am considering upgrading to this.
One peculiarity I found: I'm in Los Angeles and I take route 101 regularly. My Tommy says, ".... on route ONE WEST ONE". Huh?
It really faked me out at the beginning.
I'd be interested to hear if the newer units have corrected this. Here's a test for you:
poke in that you want to go from Santa Monica (city center) to Malibu (city center).
See how it pronounces 101.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 22, 2010 7:05:12 PM PDT
J. Richter says:
I have the TomTom 335S. Yes, it says ONE WEST ONE. However on the infamous 405, it gets it right. Maybe some empathy for the poor 405 driving?
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