Customer Reviews: TomTom START 55TM 5-Inch GPS Navigator with Lifetime Traffic & Maps and Roadside Assistance
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Style Name: Lifetime Traffic & Maps|Product Packaging: Standard Packaging|Change
Price:$79.99 - $149.00
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on July 4, 2012
I have just returned from a trip of 1500 miles roundtrip, and for 3 of the 4 days I used Tom Tom it was absolutely great! I love it! Here is the warning: on the last leg of my return trip today, the unit would/could not find GPS satellites! I tried everything, but no luck. Fortunately I knew the route to take on this leg of my journey, but I was still miffed! Got home, determined to pack it up and send it back to Amazon, when I noticed the advice on the box to call support or go online for help before returning the unit. I went online, and lo and behold, there was a notice that a GPS upgrade was needed! This was disconcerting, happening as it did in the middle of a trip, and I didn't see any notice that this might happen, either in the box poster for using the unit or online in the manual(I had my iPad on the trip and stopped at a rest area and looked up the manual; even if I had stumbled on the explanation, I could not have downloaded the update through the iPad). So be advised if this happens to you! Make sure to take the sync cord so that you can use a computer to upgrade.
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VINE VOICEon June 27, 2012
No two GPS units are the same. I've tried almost every major brand and I prefer the TomTom models. Before this unit, I was using a GPS by TomTom with a smaller screen for vacation trips and navigational adventures in unfamiliar areas.
I plugged the unit into the TomTom site and updated the software which took quite some time. But, from previous models' snafus that I had read about, I first deleted voices and icons from the unit to free up space in the unit before I began the download of updated materials. This may not be necessary now, but it was at one time. Once updated, I took it out and began my trip.
The general operation of the GPS is very similar to my older model. Some icons are on the opposite side from my older one. With one touch I could switch views of the map on the screen from a view you'd see by looking down on a map to a view of looking down the road ahead of you. This was convenient and useful to me when I was in congested city settings. I could switch to the view looking down on the map and see streets parallel to me and get a better view around me. Overall, this new one is brighter and the touchpad sensitivity is much better. I felt like I had to press the old screen much harder than I should've had to. This new unit did alert me to a redlight camera that I knew was there, but the older unit has never alerted to the camera. My old one did not have the lifetime maps, so had I spent the money to update the maps it too might have alerted to the camera.
Having the free lifetime maps will definitely be nice. I will never have another GPS unit without the free lifetime maps.
Some say GPS units are dying out. If you travel much outside major metropolitan areas where there are no 3G or 4G cellular towers, you will soon find out just relying on your smartphone to get you there will not work. As long as your up-to-date TomTom GPS can see the sky, it will get you there...and no, I don't work for TomTom or any GPS companies.
So, having tried many GPS systems, I can confidently say that this one is the best yet. I love the large screen and the map layout. I would highly recommend this one to anyone looking for a good gps system and free lifetime maps. That alone makes it worth a lot, considering that was never offered in the earlier models.
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on May 16, 2012
I have tested many GPS devices over the past 5 to 6 years. Rarely do I use the same model GPS for more than 6 to 8 months. Over time I have seen a great amount of improvement in technology with these devices, and prices have dropped to where just about everyone should be able to afford a reliable GPS navigator for their vehicle. The TomTom START 55M is only the second TomTom GPS that I have tested. My most frequently tested GPS units, which has also become my brand of choice over the years, have been made by Garmin, although I have tested a few Magellan models as well.

This TomTom START 55M provides a bright, colorful, 5 inch display, which I enjoy far more than the 4.3 inch displays I have had on most of my other test navigation devices. The downside is that this TomTom model does not have a capacitive touch screen, which means that you have to press your finger fairly hard against the screen to register input. While I have had many other model GPS devices with this same resistive type screen, the TomTom 55M seemed to require more pressure, and registered far more false entries than the previous test models by other manufacturers. My recent Garmin GPS, with its capacitive touch screen, is extremely easy to input information, with a response close to that of a modern day touch screen smart phone (iPhone, Android phone, etc.). Although all GPS manufacturers recommend that you do not attempt to input information into the device while driving, let's face it, we all do it. This TomTom device, with the difficult touch entry, would certainly pose a hazard if you fiddle with it while driving. You want to make sure you have your destination programmed before you begin your journey. If you must alter your destination, or input any waypoints, then I definitely recommend you pull over and do it from a safe, stationary location.

Setup was pretty straightforward, with a map update already available for the device when I connected it to my computer. The download is fairly hefty, and the installation process takes quite some time, but it is almost totally automated. You will need to properly register the device with TomTom before you get the free updates. Installation in the car was a breeze. I'm not a big fan of windshield mounts, but the included mount holds the device firmly in place. I just worry that over time it may not hold as well. After testing the TomTom START 55M in my car for two weeks, I found it to be spot on at getting me to my destination with an efficient route. I don't care much for the navigation voice, and was disappointed to find that TomTom charges a hefty fee to download any additional voices into the device. My Garmin devices have always had several voices to choose from, with many others free for download (although there are a few premium voices that they charge for). One bothersome thing for me is the time it takes to acquire satellites. Because my car sits in direct sunlight at my place of employment, I like to remove the GPS from the windshield or dash and place it in the center console of my car when I am not driving. My Garmin devices go into a kind of sleep mode, using very little battery power, and when reconnected reacquire satellites quite quickly. The TomTom 55M, however, seems to completely power down when I remove it. Once popped back into the mount, I have to power it up, and wait for it to boot up and reacquire satellites. This takes some time, and I do not like the wait time it takes before I can begin navigating. The 5-inch screen displays a lot of useful information, and the menus are laid out well for ease of use. But entering an address on that resistive touch screen is quite a chore, sometimes requiring multiple presses to get it to register a proper touch command. It just seems like TomTom could have used a more sensitive screen for this device, to save the user a lot of frustration. Once you get the 55M programmed for navigation, it performs flawlessly; at least it did for me. The display is bright and easy to read, even with sunlight pouring into the car, and voice prompts are loud, clear, and easy to understand. The lane assist feature is handy, but I did find that traffic updates in my area were not always reliable and accurate.

Overall I find the TomTom START 55M to be a solid performer for an entry level GPS device, with some added bells and whistles not normally found on a low cost GPS navigator. However, I am now back to using my Garmin nüvi 3590LMT 5-Inch Portable Bluetooth GPS Navigator with Lifetime Map and Traffic Updates, which is notably more expensive, but far more easy to operate, faster satellite acquisition, and with much more reliable traffic updates. For someone looking to purchase their first GPS navigator, or to upgrade from a much older and/or smaller device, the TomTom START 55M would be a great choice. The purchase cost is extremely affordable, and the free lifetime maps make it a real bargain. I seriously doubt you would find a better device, with as many features, for the money. For someone with far more patience than me, at dealing with the pesky, low sensitivity touch screen interface, this would be a great choice.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on May 12, 2013
Simply put, TomTom products are potentially dangerous to you and your family. I can't stress this enough. I've barely been able to tolerate their buggy, slow software and their ham-handed hardware, but when I updated the device two weeks ago at their behest before having to drive out of the country, their "improvements" now make the device force crash whenever I try to input an address -- lovely thing to find out after crossing a country border. Their advice? I should have tested it before leaving the country. My advice? I should have bought a Garmin or *anything else.*

(Testing it before I left the country clearly would have proven nothing, as testing it in the US does not prove it works in Canada. TomTom - not a fan of the scientific method.)

Their products went from being just a waste of money to dangerous pieces of junk if you are relying on getting around anywhere far from home where your cell service may be compromised. Anything else is a better option.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on July 13, 2012
Initially I will give it 4 stars as this was its first full day of use from mid morning into late evening. All functions worked as advertised, map was accurate out of the box, no updates applied yet and...

... though it is not adverised as being able to provide traffic info when I used the car power cord from my XL350TM, how about that, there was the traffic info. I had decided to go with my older cord because the one supplied was way too short for my needs so having the traffic information appear on the screen was a very nice surprise.

Compared to the recently deceased XL 350TM the Start 55M screen felt more sensitive to the touch, its processor a bit speedier reacting to user unput and moving to a 5" screen is easier on the eyes.

The window mounting bracket supplied was had the friction on the ball mount set way too tight, the tension screws will need to be adjusted before I consider it ready for daily use. I'm using the mount from the 350TM which I had already adjusted to my liking and it handled the slight extra weight of the 55M without any problems.

It found and locked on to 10 satelites within a reasonable amount of time in the St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN area. By that I mean it was ready to go by the time I removed it from its travel pouch, turned the unit on, connected the power cord to the unit and the vehicle's cigarette lighter and secured it to the windshield.

Already being familiar with the Tom Tom interface made it for an easy transition from the XL350TM unit to the Start 55M. I can't speak to other reviewers' comparisons across brands all I can say this is not the worse interface ever and it does the job just fine.

As a basic 5" screen GPS with a hidden unadvertised feature and on sale for 129.99 I would suggest anyone not in the market for bells and whistles to give it seroius consideration.
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on March 12, 2013
I was looking for an entry level GPS. I had two in mind; this unit and the Garmin Nuvi 50LM. After reading many reviews and doing much research, I decided on the TomTom. Both of these are great units to be sure, but the TomTom had some features that were important for me.

I have used a TomTom GPS before in many states and have had good results. When I first got this GPS, I hooked it to my laptop, TomTom Home software launched and asked me to associate this new GPS with my current account. You can have only one GPS associated with a given account. If you have more than one GPS, you will need an account for each. I then was able to download various updates including the new map update. The map update was about 1.5GB in size. This is a large file, and depending on your Internet download speed, it could take some time to download. Last time I checked, my download speed was about 12Mbps. It took about half an hour to download, and then another 20 to 30 minutes to update the GPS (I didn't time this exactly). This unit comes with lifetime maps. I just want to make one note on the maps and route algorithms. No GPS is going to always use the best route in every case. With the sheer number of roads and possible combinations of routes to get to a destination, this just is not feasible. Many complain about the route their GPS selects, but I must say that the GPS I used has always gotten me to the destination. If you're in an unknown area, this is of paramount importance. This unit also came with one year free roadside assistance and one year free gas price downloads. If you download gas prices before a trip, you can have the GPS take you to a station with the best prices.

One of the main reasons I bought this unit, is its excellent route avoidance features. I find the Gamin 50LM lacking here, and this was the deal breaker for me. Circumstances arise where you encounter traffic, a roadblock, or some other issue where you want to avoid a particular road. Here the 55TM shines. You have several options:

* You can select the option to change the route.
* You can use the Avoid roadblock button where you can choose how much of the road ahead to avoid.
* You can use the Calculate alternative button to calculate another route from you current starting position. After you select this, a Recalculate original button appears which allows you to re-plan your original route.
* You can choose the option to Travel via, which allows you to plan a route that passes a particular location.
* You also have the traffic feature of this unit that can detect and avoid a traffic jam. This unit has a sidebar indicating the miles to the jam and the expected delay. Note that since the traffic feature uses something called RDS-TMC which uses an FM signal to receive the traffic data. You will have this information only if the traffic jam has been reported, which means you could encounter a traffic jam without warning. This is true of any GPS.

For example, with my old TomTom, which had some of these features as well but no traffic option, I encountered a bad traffic jam. I simply got off the next exit; the unit recalculated the route automatically. I was them able then to remove the road with the traffic jam (since it wanted to put me back on the same road I just left) forcing the GPS to find a route that did not use the road with the traffic jam. Whew! I don't know how many hours I would have sat in that traffic jam. Route avoidance is an important feature in a GPS - for me anyway.

The 55TM has many other features as well, such as points of interest, favorites, recent destinations (I love this feature), color schemes, voices, and other features typically found in a GPS. You can even change what items appear on the display.

Some have complained about the sensitivity of the touch screen. I found no problem here. One must remember that on the lower cost GPS units, a resistive touch screen is used. A resistive touch screen does require a slight pressure to operate. This is in contrast to a capacitive touch screen that you will find on smartphones and more expensive GPS units.

The device comes with a windshield mount that seems to work quiet well. There is a ring that snaps on the back of the unit. Connected to the ring, via a ball joint, is the suction disk. Position the ball joint to your liking, press the suction disk to the window, rotate a knob on the back of the suction disk to create the suction, and that's it. Reverse the procedure to remove, and pull a small tab to release the disk. It worked well for me. The ball joint is tight, so I set it before I attach it to the window. I leave it set in this position for the next time; it then takes me seconds to attach it to the window.

Overall, I am quite pleased with this unit.
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on September 10, 2012
The product was packaged well and worked (sort of) the first time which is nice. You have to attach it to your computer regularly to get the map updates which is inconvenient. The screen is easy to read and it took maybe one day to get comfortable with it. Here's the problem: 20% of the time I put in an address it can't find it in the database. I thought that problem would be solved with lifetime updates but it isn't. I am convinced it is a flaw in the search algorithm. The error occurs when searching for an address by any other method other than entering the zip code (this is a short cut I discovered - you just put in the zip code of where you want to go and then it always finds the streets). But seriously - how often do you know the zip code of where you're going? Maybe this is an isolated problem to the Las Vegas market, but that's where I use it.

Also on one occasion the map was dead wrong - it had an out of the way crossing in North Las Vegas listed as an intersection and so plotted my trip accordingly. As I approached the 'intersection' it was a bridge without ramps and the road dead ended in to railroad tracks. Had to backtrack.

Tom Tom has a way of reporting mistakes so they get fixed on the next map release but sorry, that's what I paid you folks for, Tom Tom. A quick check of Google maps showed Google had it right. Does this mean a free service from a company that doesn't specialize in maps is superior to a company that maps is their specialty?

Be sure to get the zip code of where you want to go or this may be a disappointing purchase for you.

Update 10/12: Lowered rating to 1 star since I can't give it zero stars. Recent gaffes include sending me to the airport when I should have been 5 miles away, and not having a street number database for LAS VEGAS BOULEVARD. An alert dialog came up telling me I had to give a cross street to get directions. You have got to be kidding me. Tom Tom is worthless garbage. Sending back.

Another 10/12 update: More guffaws before I return: As I pass the 15 fwy and Flamingo Rd (think Caesar's Palace) it tells me I'm at the 15 and Russell (think Mandalay). As I get to Tropicana it tells me I'm at Spring Mountain. A full mile behind in updating and then misses the exit I need to take. It's not that I need it for obvious drives like this - I just wanted to see how unbelievably bad this GPS is for giggles. You want to know why Apple maps on the new iPhone 5 is such a disaster? They contracted guessed it...TomTom. Run, Apple, run as fast as you can. I made my point and returning tomorrow. You buy it after reading this - it's on you, friend.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on March 2, 2013
I have only had this for 8 hours of straight agony, I will never purchase a TomTom again. I used to have Garmin GPS back in 2008-2009 it was great, painless, only issue was it didn't have Lifetime maps. My employer bought me a company Motorola Droid later in 2009 which had a amazing GPS without worrying about about maps and I traded my Garmin back to Amazon and enjoyed my Droid phone GPS. I got laid off by my employer in 2012 and lost my Droid gps. But by then the Original Droid has depreciated so much I purchased a used one on Ebay for 35 bucks to try and get my GPS back. But turns out Google Droid/Apple use Cell Towers to assist GPS and do not work at all without Data (which means if you have no bars of reception you have no GPS either). Which is very depressing to learn, I guess im lucky I never drove somewhere there was no cell reception because that would have crippled my Droid GPS. So I needed to find a real GPS again and since the one regret I had with my Garmin was it couldn't do the "Homer Simpson Voice" which I know is dumb, but you know when your driving today, you need as much humor as you can get, at least thats how I feel. So it was a important feature to get Homers voice on my GPS to make it a bit more enjoyable then the normal (TTS) Text To Speech Engines.

So I took a chance on this Model Start 55m I Don't need anything fancy just Lifetime Maps and Lane Assist was helpful since Im pretty directionally challenged and can get lost in even a small town. In preparation I created a account at TomTom even bought my Homer Simpson Voice in advance which TomTom gives you a free $10 code just for becoming a member so the voice only costs $2.95. I installed the software that is available for my Apple OSX Snow Leopard computer, and it was all ready for the GPS to plug in and go. I finally get the GPS, Turn It on, Set the basic settings Language, Time, and I noticed right away, it takes alot of effort to make the touch screen respond compared to my Droid Phone, or my Garmin or Any Touch Screen Ive used before, I thought maybe the screen protector was making it weaker so I removed it and it was still awful. Not responsive at all, must be extremely cheap. So first thing you should know about this, the touch screen is awful, you really need to push hard and its not very easy to use. 2nd issue I noticed right away was the "On Screen Keyboard" layout was hideous also, The touch keyboard has 2 modes 1 for Alpha Characters, and another for Numeric, but the Numeric side don't include a "Space" key, so you have to type a number then flip to the Alpha characters to enter a space then back to the numbers to type more numbers. Absolutely inefficient, awkward, I can't image doing this while on the road especially with how hard it is to get the touch screen acknowledge your typing. Also seemed to be lacking a backspace, if you type something wrong the key that looks like a backspace in the top right corner actually sends you back a screen to the previous entry instead of just backspacing or erasing a mistyped character which is easy to to do when the screen is not very responsive and you have to press hard. Terrible compared to both my Garmin and Droid not user friendly at all. Took me almost 30 minutes to type in my home address, it also separates everything by State,City,Street, House and looks it up if its not there I guess it will take you forever to enter your home address. Instead of just writing your entire address in 1 line like Google Droid would do.

After that painful experience I attempted to connect it to my Mac. Nothing...... but the TomTom website would load. The GPS would load as a storage device just fine, just never connect with its own software. So I read other people's comments, looks like the Mac software is just there for looks and really nonfunctional so I dragged out my old Windows XP laptop for such occasions as these. I logged into my TomTom Site account and it discovered im using a windows computer now and gave me a download to install the windows version of TomTom Home. So I did. I then plugged in the GPS to the windows computer it did the same thing the Mac did it discovered its a storage device and gave me a list of options 1st was to run Home Software on it so I did. Turns out this GPS included some outdated version of the software I just download from the TomTom site, since it went along and installed a 2nd instance of TomTom Home so now I have 2 instances of TomTom Home running on my poor XP pc the one I downloaded from the site dosn't see the GPS at all the old version see's the GPS but needs to restart my computer before it will work properly. So The computer restarts before it even finishes installing its needed software. Boots up both instances of the program myTomTom, I uninstall the version I downloaded from the website since obviously it can't be good to have 2 instances of any application running at the same time but obviously the TomTom Developers know something I don't. The Software the GPS installed works but is outdated and needs to be updated before I can use it. So Im upgrading again, and instead of replacing itself, it wants to make a third instance of the application, So If I didn't uninstall that last version I would have 3 copys of this bad software on my poor windows computer.

The new version requires NET Framework 3.5 which wasn't on my machine, so I had to install all that bloat before I could upgrade this software so I did that, by this time almost 3 hours have elapsed just trying to get the GPS to talk to the computer software. It Crashes a few times, no informative reasons, it just cancels no other options, sends TomTom the reports. I restart the computer try again, after a few attempts it finally works see's the GPS but now its complaining the software on my GPS is outdated, Not the Maps just the firmware itself. So it requires to back itself up into My Documents, which takes almost a hour on USB 2.0 then goes to the update GPS software and requires a special port 443 "Https:" protocol which for anyone behind a router, usually port 443 points default to your router at So when this software updates it stops dead at the Firewall, instead of being routed to the computer behind the firewall that's actually using the software. So unless your computer is directly connected to the internet without a router and no firewall or you have a DMZ on your router to place that machine to the open world this software is totally unusable. Not only that, my nice Homer Simpson voice, can't be used without this GPS software update, so I don't even get to use that. Almost felt like crying at how hideous this entire experience was. Almost 6 hours of pulling my hair out, cursing the pc, and in the end I need to get a RMA and return this piece of garbage same day it arrived.

It almost should be illegal to make something this bad. Do yourself a huge favor and steer clear unless you enjoy pain. Learn from my mistake this is a terrible product and very unfriendly.
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This new TomTom Start 55M is the best basic gps system I've come across in fifteen years of using them. It comes with lifetime maps and Roadside Assistance (minimum plan - better plans cost more but I don't buy GPS for roadside plans) The lifetime maps make it worth the price of the unit in under a year easy at the old prices for map updates (for every manufacturer back then). Mine updated immediately and the map has proven truly up to date. There is a community mapping feature where if you live in big cities etc or travel the highways a lot daily users upload their map adjustments and you download load them to this unit to have a truly up to the minute picture of mapping and repair detours in your immediate vicinity. This alone is worth the price again. It routes cleanly and adjusts quickly and give voice directions including street to turn on. The five inch screen is touch and reliable. I had no trouble with the mounting. It does what I require (it does not include multi-point - not expected in a basic unit - but you can arrange a route to pass by points of interest by address if you get my hint). I'd buy another one in a heartbeat.
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The manufacturer commented on the review below
on May 16, 2013
This is the 5th GPS I have owned. The last 3 all TomTom because they really give the best directions. It tell you to turn but also which lane to stay in. That is crucial for me driving in cities & on roads I do not know and the reason once I found Tom Tom I stuck to the brand.
This model is so slow. It takes forever to load information like road names etc and when you have take a different road then the original the unit takes forever to reload the new route and tell you where to turn. I do not know what is the problem with this but it seems to not be able to process the information fast enough. It also stutters.Just keeps repeating a word over and over. I have had to shut it down to get it to stop.
I would have returned the unit but my old GPS broke just before I left Florida to drive back to Nova Scotia and I replaced it with this one. Left the packaging behind and enroute found out that this was not the GPS for me, sadly I am stuck with it without the packaging =(
TomTom makes great GPS's just don't buy this one!
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