REVIEWS

Dyson Hot+Cool purifying fan and heater

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Acer Windows Mixed Reality Headset and Controller

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Kindle Oasis (2017) - The Perfect eBook reader

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Nomad leather case for iPhone 8 Plus

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Monday
Aug112014

Review: TomTom Go 500 GPS

By Gadjo Cardenas Sevilla

Because I use my smartphone's various navigation features, my standalone GPS device has sat unused in my glove compartment for the past few years. The smartphone's constant data connection plus the variety of mapping apps and turn-by-turn direction options seemed good enough for me. But after I tried TomTom Go 500 GPS, I seriously reconsidered this approach.

A standalone GPS unit frees your smartphone from navigation duties and makes it possible to use the smartphone for fun stuff like playing back music, podcasts and most importantly, for making calls or taking messages (provided you're not driving, of course).

Right out of the box, the TomTom Go 500 GPS was a vast improvement over GPS units I tested three or even two years ago. The windshield mount is rock solid, super stable and snaps decisively into place. The GPS unit itself feels like a large premium smartphone or phablet. Nicely contoured, it feels well built. The display is clear and is less reflective than previous models.

Turning on the TomTom Go 500, I quickly realized what a different experience I was getting. The GPS zoned in on my location pretty quickly, faster than many built-in satnav systems in cars I've driven, and faster than many of my smartphone apps.

The display renders surroundings accurately in 3D, this detail shows nearby buildings and landmarks in a recognizeable manner and is a vast improvement over some of the very basic map displays we're used to seeing.

I used the TomTom Go 500 as my main means of navigation in Toronto and the GTA as well as on a family vacation in Clearwater, Florida (TomTom offers maps for the US, Canada and Mexico).

Some of the outstanding features that impressed me were the variety of turn-by-turn voices. The Advanced Lane Guidance feature (which gives you an alert well before you have to act on it, critical when you're zipping by at highway speeds ad don't want to miss your turn). 

The user interface and design of the TomTom Go 500 is also very friendly and intuitive, a Route Bar shows important information along the way and serves as an indicator of how far along you are in your trip.

I did a lot of driving in Florida and as I was unfamiliar with the area, relied heavily on the TomTom Go 500 and it did a great job of getting me where I needed to go quickly and with minimum fuss.  

These new Go 500 models have the option of using a smartphone's data plan (via a smartphone app) this gives users access to lifetime traffic information which, for city driving in Toronto, was a big help in finding ways around the various road closures, construction jams and the gridlock that's increasingly bearing down on commuters.

So, while it frees up your smartphone from navigation duties, the TomTom Go 500 is in itself smart enough to piggyback on the data plan in order to get you where you want to go faster and more efficiently.

Conclusion

The TomTom Go 500 removes many of the pain points that have turned drivers away from standalone GPS units in favour of their smartphones and tablets. The large multi-touch screen is vivid and responsive, controls are so easy you don't need to read the manual, 3D graphics really help orient you on your location and the windshield mount is rock solid.

At $279.99, the TomTom Go is priced in the mid range as far as GPS units go, but the large screen and the 3D maps as well as smartphone connectivity are premium features. As someone who travels to various places in the US and Canada, it's a worthwhile investment.

For anyone who is considering upgrading from an outdated GPS or who want to give their smartphones a break, the TomTom Go 500 is certainly worth checking out. 

Rating: 4.5 out of 5

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