It’s got live on-road incident reports and all the right bells and whistles, but its tendency to spout annoying gibberish taints our reviewer’s experience
As I explained in my review of TomTom’s inexpensive XL 250 GPS unit (review here), I generally prefer a basic frill-free GPS. All I need are accurate directions and some intelligence applied to the unit’s design and interface; I just don’t use the rest of the features, so why pay for them? TomTom’s new Go Live 1000 model is somewhat more upmarket than the simple XL250 but it packs more in the way of useful features than “widgets”.
Features and Construction
The Go Live 1000 has all the useful features that normally appear on this company’s units, including IQ Routes and lane guidance but adds potential genre changing functionality (at least in NZ) in the form of real time traffic updates. The TomTom Live Services use a built in mobile phone connection to access “HD Traffic”, which draws from data provided by the AA using information from commercial vehicle operators.
Theoretically, the Go Live 1000 gets traffic updates every two minutes and it can react to incidents on the planned route and come up with alternatives that will get the driver to their destination as quickly as possible. It will also update the locations of mobile traffic cameras and weather information. The Live Services subscription is free for the first year of ownership but the ongoing costs haven’t been finalised as yet, so this is something to bear in mind. Live Services also gives you access to weather information and Google searches, a very cool addition.
This is the first TomTom range with a capacitive ‘Fluid Touch Screen’, which allows users to zoom in and out of maps using pinch gestures. The 4.3-inch screen is clear and easy to see, without much of a glare problem. The speaker is loud enough to be really useful, even in noisy cars, which makes the Bluetooth hands-free calling functionality come into its own.
There’s also a new ‘easy click’ magnetic mount and a magnetic cable connection. The new mount works well but as easy as the new cable connector is, I’m not in favour of non-standard connectors. I’d rather have a bog-standard USB cable so I can use multiple cables at home, in the car and at work instead of dragging a specific cable anywhere I want to charge or dock the unit.
In use, the Go Live 1000 proved to have two really annoying issues. Battery life wasn’t the best and the unit also charged slowly, needing to be hooked up to the car lighter adaptor quite a lot. Not a big deal in car (unless you want to charge your mobile phone at the same time of course) but painful if you want to use the unit to walk around a strange town for the day.
It also had a strange glitch with certain spoken street names; every time I encountered directions involving a State Highway, the helpful voice would spout some gibberish along the lines of “follow something-something-something-something State Highway Two for ten kilometres”. This just about drove me to distraction on a drive to Tauranga and back and even after hours in the car, I still couldn’t quite make out what it was trying to tell me. Voices from beyond, perhaps? Gary Steel’s review unit (a VIA 160) does the same thing. Who signed off this functionality, I wonder? Give him a rocket, I say!
Trying to access TomTom’s Live Services on the road often led to a “One moment please” message, with the moment taking ages. While I only had occasional hassles at home in Auckland, this feature needs to become much smoother and more reliable. Once the system was connected, it was a pleasure to be able to take a look at incidents on my planned route and see if there were any delays ahead. The unit should recalculate as it goes but knowing that there’s only a three-minute delay coming up on your way to a meeting is useful information to have when planning your route.
Overall, despite the nonsensical mumblings, navigation was excellent and GPS fixes were acquired with alacrity, helped I suppose by the QuickGPSfix functionality that is part of the Live Services suite. Whether in town or out on rural roads, I found the directions to be both timely and accurate and the unit generally recalculated routes quickly when I deliberately went astray to test its capabilities. The only physical navigation issue I encountered over a number of weeks was a bizarre inability to acknowledge that there is more than one route to Tauranga from Auckland – if you don’t take the Ngatea turn off and prefer to go over the Kaimais via Matamata (the faster and safer route), then the TomTom tells you to “turn around when possible” for the longest time. Eventually it cottoned on and got with the plan by recalculating the route. Still, one slip up over weeks of use isn’t too terrible. In my experience, most of GPS units have these little mental breakdowns, and it’s certainly not limited to TomTom’s products.
I refuse to install any non-essential software on my work MacBook Pro, so I installed the TomTom software on my long-suffering Toshiba laptop. This turned out to be a slightly fiddly process, with the TomTom app recommending a Windows Hotfix, which required a system restart. Eventually, the app got on with things and the Go Live 1000 was updated. I’d hoped that this would resolve the incoherent mutterings regarding State Highways but sadly, it was not to be, and I had to live with them for the duration of the test.
As a premium GPS unit with state of the art functionality, TomTom’s Go Live 1000 is a very competent unit, but slightly spoiled by a few frustrating issues that should have been ironed out long before the unit left the factory.
The average battery life and very occasional navigation glitches are par for the course among the units I’ve tested recently from TomTom, Garmin and Navman, so I won’t hold this against the Go Live 1000, although I will say that TomTom and the other manufacturers need to try harder here.
Positives include the screen and interface, which do their job well, while the overall navigational experience is hard to fault, especially with the addition of the Live Services functionality. In this regard, the unit is a four star product but until that problem with saying the names of the State Highways is sorted, I have no option but to pull it back to three and a half stars. This sounds like a big penalty for what should be a small problem but hear that mistake over and over again every time you get near a motorway and it gets old really quickly. Roll on version 1.1, I’ll be happy to take a look at it. ASHLEY KRAMER
An Alternative in Your Pocket
The biggest problem facing units such as the Go Live 1000 comes from the phone in my pocket. Take one Apple iPhone, add in the TomTom navigation app for around $90 from the iTunes store and you’re away with a seamless navigation experience on a device that has excellent built in navigation for outside the car in the form of Google Maps. It just happens to be a great smartphone as well. You can throw in the TomTom iPhone car kit (with a better speaker and a GPS booster) as well for $200, but I haven’t felt the need.
Given that the iPhone is already connected, how hard could it be to add Live Services to the app or to port this app to the increasingly popular Android platform? The future of navigation is in your pocket.