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New TomTom Go 720 Pan European / North America GPS Sat Nav Review

European or US Maps, Bluetooth Hands-Free, FM Modulator, Free User Defined Map-Upgrades, Have TomTom Redefined What We Expect From In Car Satellite Navigation?

TomTom Go 720They're here at last, the new range of TomTom in-car Satellite Navigation. We'll start by looking at the TomTom 720 - successor to the old go 710 and 700. The 720 is at heart a European Navigation device (or US if you're buying the American version) with detailed street levels maps of the whole of Western Europe (including GB) or the USA . So what's changed?

TomTom have had to revamp their range in response to excellent GPS units from Garmin such as the Nuvi 200 / 250, the Streetpilot 550 and the Nuvi 660fm. Although the best selling Sat Nav's in Europe, many critics (including myself) have a higher regard for Garmins map accuracy and stability - but that might all be about to change.

TomTom are introducing "Map Share" technology, a feature which allows Tom Tom owners to alter the maps in their own devices, and then share those changes with the wider Sat Nav community via an upload from TomTom's bundled Home Software. This works like this: You've following a prescribed route and discover that a road is now permanently blocked off at one end due to a new housing development. Hit the menu button and "map corrections". Choose "road closed" and to share that data with other users. When you're next connecting to your PC with the supplied docking station TomTom home can upload your map changes to their database to be shared with other users. If TomTom upgrade their previous devices to the software (which they have traditionally done) there could be up to ten million TomTom users actively improving the TomTom map database. Most importantly these "user powered" map upgrades will be free. TomTom are in fact bringing power to their users, a sense of community and removing the fear that that lots of GPS users have - that as soon as they've bought their unit the maps are out of date. With Mapshare TomTom are bringing power to (their) people. UPDATE: Actually you'll only be able download Mapshare corrections for a year after you've bought the unit. After that you can still use the corrections you've downloaded but won't be able to get any more. To start using Mapshare again you'll have to buy another map pack.

Phew! Let's look at the other changes TomTom have made with their 720. Gone is the clunky oversized box and in is a svelte unit just like the new One XL. The screen is larger are clearer, the 3D maps are as good as ever, but now have "real" features instead of just a map on its side.

Voice instructions are loud and clear, and now the unit will read out (if you want it to) road names for easier and safer navigation, a function only previously available on the top-of-the-range 910. You can also record your own voice for playback as instructions. Imagine the fun - you could get your mother in law to record "turn left", "turn right", etc, and listen to her voice on an eight hour drive to Newcastle ....

Perhaps of more interest is the speech recognition feature - thats right, you'll now be able to talk to your TomTom Go 720 to tell it where to go... sorry, to tell it your destination. No word yet on how good this will be, or if it will mesh with the hands-free features, but this could be very useful for changing destinations while driving.

A built in FM modulator can be used to direct voice instructions via your cars radio - so volume is no longer an issue. MP3's can also be played through the FM modulator, with voice instructions fading in and out with the music.

More thought has gone into the POI integration and the safety aspects of such - instead of just looking for a hospital, you can choose to walk there, call for help, drive there, all very worthy. Tom Tom even include medical guides for first aid and what to do in the event of an emergency!

A lot of work has gone into improving the TMC or Traffic avoidance features, via an additional TMC antenna or the built in Bluetooth (and a compatible mobile phone). You can now plan and save specific routes to avoid traffic (such as your daily commute) and your TomTom will choose the best alternatives depending on congestion conditions. Tomtom should have included a free TMC antennae like Garmin do on lots of their models, but I'm sure we'll see some bundled packages at special prices in the near future.

Other features include mp3 player / audio book reader, picture viewer (via SD card slot) document viewer, weather information, and much more. See TomTom's 720 description for full details.

The Bluetooth hands-free calling (with your mobile / cell phone) now includes text to speech, so you can have your sms messages read out on the move.

With all this talk of special features I've overlooked the most important point for most users - ease of operation. All functions are accessed via the 4.3" wide touch-screen, and everything is intuitive, you don't need a manual. Simply tap the screen to access the revamped menus, tap navigate to, then Postcode or Address, punch it in and you're off, with the device warning you of speed-cameras as you go. Award Winning simplicity that you will be very pleased with.

TomTom still have, in my opinion, the best system for fine tuning your routes with its "avoid part of route" function, which Garmin should integrate into their systems as soon as possible. With a TomTom you can specify exactly which roads you want to avoid on any trip, or simply block a road if you're about to hit a traffic jam.

What's in the box? You get the unit itself, windscreen mount, car power lead (cigar type), docking station to connect to your pc and a cd-rom with TomTom home software and the user manual. Things you'll also want to buy will be a case to protect it, a TMC antennae for European congestion news, and maybe a lead to connect your ipd / mp3 player and a remote control.

I guess the question you're waiting to have answered is "is it good?". The TomTom 720 is very, very good. It has lots of amazing features, the best of which is the Mapshare, which could revolutionize the way street maps are made, and could be a real killer application.

Tomtom have produced a Sat Nav that has really surprised me with its usefulness and it evolution from previous models. They have clearly built in extra value to their new units, which also mean a higher price.

For me I guess it comes down to your budget. For a straight navigator with no bells or whistles I prefer the Nuvi 200 / 250. If I had a budget for a Sat Nav that could act as a hands-free kit, mp3 player, all the extras, the TomTom 720 would be near the top of my list. Buy a TomTom GO 720 from Amazon.co.uk

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Comments / Questions:

Gday!
I need a satnav for the following use split: 80% scooter / 20% car for 70% UK 15% EU 15% USA driving.

I think maps on TomTom are ugly, people rave about Garmin, I am seduced by the user-updateable maps feature on TomTom and would like the play-MP3s-and-sat-nav-interrupts-with-directions feature. What do you recommend? Dudley.

You'd be best to go for a Garmin Zumo or Tomtom Rider, with additional car mount kits - these are the only waterproof Sat-Navs, plus you'd have to buy the extra maps.

I cannot understand in this day and age why NO sat nav system allows for towing a caravan. Some of the routes are hair raising to say the least.We have a hand held traveler which is 15years old and allows for towing and via places.We have never been taken down routes with this that were not suiable for towing.You can avoid bridges,narrow lanes and can plan mostly motorways if you wish. So come on TOM TOM,GARMIN OR NAVMAN ETC get your act together the first one to do this will win the Market and there is a market out there. Macken.

Too right!

Hi Am looking to buy a sat nav but wondered if they could be used for geocashing. Can you advise
Thanks
Phil

Any TomTom or Garmin will be fine for light Geocaching - just remember that they're not water proof, and won't survive being dropped.

Hi, I'm thinking of buying a SatNav system but I would like to use it for two very different purposes:
1) A driving Holiday around europe (incl. France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Poland)
2) Cycling holiday (UK - Lands End to John O'Groats) using mainly B or unclassified roads. A long battery life would be required as I'd only get the chance to re-charge overnight.
Is there such a device in existance?  Do you have any recommendations?
Thanks,
Kevin

You want a handheld GPS that can also do roads. You can get handlebar mounts for them, plus they run off AA batts, so just take a spare set of rechargeables and you'd be ok.

Hi could you please tell me the best tom tom to buy for European journeys. i am driving to spain in a few monthns. thankyou. Glynn.

It all depends on your budget and what extra features you want, like Bluetooth hands-free calling, FM modulator for voice instructions through your car speakers, etc. I'd be looking at a TomTom One v3 Europe, TomTom Go 730, Garmin Nuvi 250, Nuvi 660FM, or the widescreen versions. Best place is to go to Amazon.co.uk and read the reader reviews and then nip into your local electronics shop to have a play.

Which sat nav should i buy to sync with my apple mac computer AND my iphone? Geoffrey.

Check out these links:
http://www8.garmin.com/bluetooth/compat-phone.jsp?mfg=45&id=319
http://www.tomtom.com/phones/compatibility/?intPhone=317

Support for macs is a bit sketchy, Garmin offer some support (i think its still beta), you may be better off running Windows on your Mac with Bootcamp, etc, for better results, but I'm no Mac expert, so check the relevant forums or contact Garmin / TomTom direct.

I already have one of these - it's excellent!  But can you download USA maps for it?

Just buy them from the TomTom Map Shop.

WE ARE TRAVELLING TO CRETE AND WE HAVE A TOM TOM700 BUT CAND FIND ANY MAPS ANY WAY OF DOWNLOADING THEM? Janet.

Sorry, there aren't any TomTom maps for Crete, the companies that make the digital maps haven't bothered. Back to paper I'm afraid!

Hi there I'm planing on buying a sat nave this weekend mostly to use in the UK. my favorite 2 seem to be the nuvi 760t ant tom-tom 720t, could you advise me on which you think would be best this will be my first GPS.
many thanks Phil.

Both are great units, it would come down to whether you'd make better use of the 760t's multiple destination planning, or the 720ts year worth of free map updates via Mapshare.

Hi, looking at your reviews I have found them to be really useful, I bought my last Sat Nav, a Navman N40i on the strength of your review.
I am now looking to replace it with either a Navman s90i or Tomtom 720.
Can you just give me some idea of how the two brands compare in terms of reliability?
Also the TMC feature confuses me, I understand that with the s90i it is a wire built into the unit and is free not requiring a subscription, assuming that is correct how does that compare with the 720?
And one final question, my Navman worked straight out the box and I've never had to connect it to my laptop to do anything- with Tomtom (home) what does that require of the owner?
Many thanks. Ben.

Most new GPS Sat Navs require occasional updates, just like a Windows PC, but TomTom need more than others - but at least that means they do address problems.
One of the best ways to compare the two is to go to Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com and read all the customer reviews.
TMC is supplied free with the S90i and the 720T (Not the cheaper 720). TMC in the UK is a free service.
With TomTom home you install the software, then when you plug in the unit it will check for updates, download map corrections (free for a year), all easy enough.
Which would I go for? I'd swing for the 720T- Amazon are very cheap at moment, because the new models, the 730, will be coming very soon, but will be more expensive - can you wait?

I do alot of traveling in a big city and deliver products to different businesses . How do I add addresses into my tomtom 720 so it will take me from business to business ? or do I have to add them into the 720 one at a time ?

You need to use itinerary planning. Tap the screen to get in the menu then look for the icon with a couple of arrows. Look in the manual, page 23, which I've attatched.

Q. How do I change the on screen instructions which are in dutch to english? Chris.

The easiest way is to use the reset button (the tiny hole where the dock connects - see your manual), or if you just tap the screen, look for the spanner, press that, then look for the lips. Press them to change the voice. I think the one with the flags changes the text. If you can't see either of those options, you need to turn on all menu options - it looks like a box with a few icons in it. I've atached the manual for you to look at.

hi i just got my 720t its great exept the hands free kit has so much feed back no one can hear a word i say. i hear them fine but even when i shout as loud as posible in a hotel room 2 inches from the mic with no external noise people can only just hear me over the feedback and white noise. should i return it as faulty or is this a common fault? my phone is a sony ericson 910i. Toby.

Your phone is not listed as being compatible with the 720, so you need to try it with a phone that is compatible first, see this link.
If a compatible phone doesn't work, it sounds like you may have a duff unit there, but first try resetting it (see manual to show you where the hole is) and downloading the lastest software updates via TomTom home. If it is still too quiet, take it back.
If your TomTom works fine with another phone, replace your phone or buy an earpiece.

Which sat nav will work in crete? Simon.

Sorry, after hunting around I can't find any of the major in- car GPS Sat Nav who include a map of crete.

THERES NO SOUND ON MY TOMTOM 720 RESET BUTTON DOES DOES NOT RESET UNIT WHAT COULD BE WRONG SETTINGS ARE ALL CORRECT UNIT IS ONLY 2MNTHS OLD. Charles.

Download the latest software using TomTom home to see if that sorts it out. Try a system reset from the options menu. If all that doesn't work you've probably got a blown speaker, sorry. Tomtom will repair it pretty quickly if you take it back to your retailer, or contact TomTom directly: 08451610009.

I have the Tom Tom Go 720 and I have the O2 XDA Orbital phone, I have just bought the traffic and travel saftey camera's package. The saftey camera works but the Tom Tom tells me that traffic and travel is not supported. What do i do? Do i need a diffrent phone?

A quick check of TomTom's phone compatibility list, doesen't list the o2 XDA Orbital, so no, it won't work with your 720. Tomtom are upgrading the firmware all the time, so it may work after a future update.

I have the tomtom go720traffic satnav and the fully compatible siemens sl75 phone.
When i go to add contacts to satnav via bluetooth etc the device says its doing it but how do i set up the synchronisation on my phone, it tries to do it auto but obviously after 1 hr left it does not.
please advise

Afraid I'm not too hot on phone problems, but I'd say your first port of call would be to check you've got the latest software on your GPS via tomtom home. Then try to sync again. If it still doesn't work try the FAQ's at tomtom.

i have a tomtom 720t and tow a caravan,could someone tell me if there is a program for the 720t specific for towing. Will.

As far as I'm aware there isn't yet a programme that includes POI's to avoid low-bridges, hump-back bridges, narrow roads, etc, for caravans or trucks.
You'll still have to keep that truckers atlas in the car to check the route in advance.

HI,I JUST BOUGHT THIS DANG THING FOR MY BOYFRIEND. THE MAN SAID PLUG IT UP AND GO. HA!! HE SAID (MY BF) COULD JUST TALK TO IT & NOT TAKE EYES OFF ROAD AND IF HE PUT IN WHAT HE WAS DRIVING IT WOULD TELL HIM WHAT ROADS HE COULD GO ON OR WHAT BRIDGES HE COULD GO UNDER ECT. (HE DRIVED LOG TRUCKS IN A LOT OF STATES)SO FAR IT WON'T LET HIM DO ANY OF THOSE THINGS! WAS I JUST SCREWED OVER OR WHAT? PLEASE HELP.I'M NOT VERY GOOD @ THIS STUFF. IT'S GONNA GO OUT THE WINDOW SOON.THANKS, RHONDA

You do have to touch the unit to make it work properly, although it does have voice input for destinations.
The unit does not come with the ability to warn you about low-bridges and hump-back bridges out of the box.
It does sound like the person who sold you the unit did exagerate its abilities, but don't throw it away, you will not find a GPS Sat Nav that does the above.... Yet.

We are planning a trip to the US next year, we have a blue media sat nav but it is vey limited in its uses. What advise can you give- is this the one to have? Miriam.

Hi Miriam! Unfortunately the Tomtom 720 doesn't come with US maps - for that you want the TomTom Go 920, from Amazon, follow this link:

TomTom Go 920 With European Mapping

If you fancy more of a bargain, get a Garmin Nuvi 270, which has maps of UK, Europe and the USA, and is cheaper - follow this link:

Garmin Nuvi 270 Satellite Navigation System With European & American Mapping

A common fault with sat navs, in my experience, is that they don't let you plan exactly a route but choose their own. This can be particularly unhelpful when towing a caravan where the route is doubly important. does the TT 720 allow you to decide which roads to take from point A to B?
Rgds, Stephen

The new TomTom Go range, including the 720, has some of the most advanced route-planning options available, but by their very nature Sat Navs do like to work things out for themselves, but you can alter how they do this.
One feature with the 720 is that you can preview the route then choose to avoid certain roads along it. With a long route this is quite laborious, but it does work.
Another option is to break your route down into smaller chunks so you have more say over the type of routes it will decide on.
You can also tell it to avoid u-turns and unpaved roads.
As yet there is no option to avoid hump-back or low bridges - I guess an important consideration when towing a caravan.
Check out this link!
Maybe the best advice I can give is to ask your question in these forums and see if any fellow caravanners can recommend a specific Sat Nav:
Caravan Talk
PocketGPS World
Hope this helps! Rob.

At last, a really helpful and balanced review, thank you. This has been a great help in choosing a decent GPS SatNav (the TT GO 720) for my trip to Germany. Warren. Thanks Warren! Send us an e-mail when you get back with how you got on with your new purchase.

 

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