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Customer Review

281 of 287 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Straightforward GPS Navigator at a Good Price Point, April 27, 2012
This review is from: TomTom START 45M 4.3-Inch GPS Navigator with Lifetime Maps and Roadside Assistance (Wireless Phone Accessory)
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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.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Dec 15, 2012, 6:56:20 AM PST
Katey says:
Great review. I am not surprised you had trouble with Windows 7 and the TomTom unit. Windows 7 has trouble with most everything so it was most likely not the TomTom unit.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 6, 2013, 9:19:59 AM PST
Matt Morgan says:
Agreed, it was not the unit. I have had problems with other things in Windows 7 as well, though I have usually been able to figure them out. In the case of the TomTom, I had to let Windows attach it as a storage device and then had to hunt the file system for the application and then run it. Under Vista this happened automatically.

Posted on Aug 30, 2013, 7:54:07 AM PDT
Susan Cash says:
Thank you. This was very informative. This TomTom would be for my father, who drives to new places alot and has expressed an interest in getting a GPS. He is not at all computer literate so I need to find one that would be the most simple to understand/set/operate. Do you know if this is the most straight forward out there or if there would be a more appropriate one?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2013, 8:14:18 AM PDT
Matt Morgan says:
TomTom and Garmin are about the same when it comes to ease of use. (Magellan is a little less straightforward). The menus are approximately the same - feed it an address, tell it what kind of route you want (shortest, fastest, no highways, etc.) and let the navigator do the rest. Now, how they navigate is another matter. I have a Magellan that I would not trust to take me to the house next door but it's great for mapping without a route. We have the TomTom, a Garmin Nuvi and a Magellan Roadmate - of the three, I probably trust the Garmin more than the other two when it comes to choosing accurate and straightforward routes, though I have never been put on a bad path with my TomTom and it's the one I keep in my car and the one I take on travel.

I have noticed that there seems to be an equal number of good and bad experiences with TomTom users. It so happens my experience has been great, though I know others who have been less pleased.

This particular TomTom is a straightforward no-frills navigator. I have the lifetime maps which is worth its weight in gold and I have added a few extra voices for entertainment but otherwise I have not opted for any extras. I consider it to be a really good basic unit. It does require a little bit of learning, though (as they all do when you first start working with GPS units) but if your father can memorize a few basic steps (where to put in the address, how to connect it to the car's 12V plug for longer trips, etc.) it should work well enough.

The Garmin Nuvi is another very viable choice, roughly equivalent in use. I bought a Garmin for my wife and she refuses to use anything else, and she is not a computer fan by any stretch of the imagination. If her Garmin were to die, I would buy her the exact same thing again as it fits her very well - and she does not want to learn how to use the TomTom.

I would advise you to steer clear of Magellan though, unless you have a lot of patience and you're willing to put up with its many quirks. I like Magellan GPS units but not enough to really push them.

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 30, 2013, 11:28:22 AM PDT
Susan Cash says:
You've been very helpful. Thank you, again.
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