My first 500 km with a TomTom 720

by Volker Weber

tomtom 720

I have been familiar with TomTom's navigation software for many years and still feel very much at home whenever I use one of their devices or software solutions on a smartphone. The all-in-one units that TomTom sells as either the GO or the ONE series have the benefit that you just need to run one wire from the device to the cigarette lighter outlet and you are good to go. With smartphones you have to keep both the phone and the GPS receiver powered.

Last year I took a GO 910 for a spin, and I was not too impressed. Being used to a Navman 530 and a Navman N40, I found the GO 910 too bulky and heavy. A heavy device puts a lot of stress on the screen mount, and since both of our cars don't exactly have a smooth ride, the screen on the GO 910 always looked blurred while the screen mount tried to keep the device in check.

This has now changed with the GO 720. TomTom has designed a very simple screen mount that works, and they also made the new series thinner and lighter. I can only imagine that the 3rd generation ONE works even better in this respect. I consider this problem solved for TomTom.

There were two things I wanted to check on the 720 device today:

  1. Text-to-speech
  2. TMCpro

Text-to-speech turned out to be a nice enhancement. You have to select a computer voice (in contrast to a sampled human voice) for your driving directions, and the software will read street names and highway numbers with the instructions. It does not only say that you turn in 200 meters, but also on which road you turn.

tmc receiverTMCpro was a mixed bag. It did miss one monster traffic jam near Ulm, and by sheer luck I was able to leave the Autobahn when I hit the jam. How often do you get the chance to take an exit when all traffic comes to a stand-still? Then it was able to predict the delay from a construction work between Stuttgart and Karlsruhe very well. The status icons are not obvious, so I did not really know what the yellow and green circle meant, but I found out later.

Unfortunately the TMC receiver adds to the clutter on your dashboard. You run a second wire which contains the receiver and also works as an antenna. I would have preferred TomTom using the power cord as an antenna and including the receiver in the device itself. I understand this is a licensing issue, and that Germany is one of the few countries where it actually make sense to pay for the TMC license, but the extra wire still bothers me.

I also tried entering addresses with voice recognition, but that was a complete failure. I had been told it works very well, but it did not really, at least not for me. I am going to read the instructions for next time, but today I had much more success with the onscreen keyboard.

Comments

I couldn't quite follow the argument of a licensing issue? Are you saying the TMC receiver is an additional device that you have on your dashboard and over which someone other than TomTom has the license power so TomTom couldn't integrate it? Otherwise, how is a licensing issue preventing from putting the antenna wire into the power cable? You don't have to use the power wires but can still have one cable, right?

Ragnar Schierholz, 2007-09-26

TMC requires a license. The manufacturer pays it once. So it adds to the price of the device. Making everybody pay for a service only few can use is not economical.

Volker Weber, 2007-09-26

The "old" Garmin c510 Deluxe does everything the 720 can do, but at a third of the price. And it knows about Ireland ;)

Frank Koehntopp, 2007-09-26

A Chrysler Sebring convertible does everything an Audi A4 convertible does ... ;-)

Volker Weber, 2007-09-26

any Feedback for the Tomtom One XL Europe? Looking good to me...

Samuel Orsenne, 2007-09-26

You run a second wire which contains the receiver and also works as an antenna.

In practice, I've found you can leave the wire and receiver folded together as they are delivered, and plug it in. The signal is strong enough that you don't need to unwrap it and stick the wire along the dashboard, which means it's not so bad as it sounds. It would of course be even better if the whole thing was inside the housing. (I'm using the TomTom ONE XL (which is also very nice), but I presume the sensitivity of the 720 is similar).

John Keys, 2007-09-26

Samuel, I have not tried the ONE XL, but John has.

Volker Weber, 2007-09-27

@Samuel: I'm very pleased with the ONE XL.

The software is easy to use and the screen is excellent - very easy to read even in sunlight. I'd been using TomTom on Palm PDAs and a Palm Treo up until now, but having used a dedicated Navi, I'd never go back to using Palm devices unless they make a massive improvement in the displays. The TomTom GPS receiver is sensitive enough to get a fix in our house without even having to be near a window and getting a fix is quick even without using their QuickGPSfix software.

I can't really comment on how the software compares to other vendors - I've used Garmin (a long time ago) and tried ViaMichelin. I prefer the TomTom software to both of those.

John Keys, 2007-09-27

Thank you John, I think I will give the ONE XL a try. It looks very good on their website and fits my needs. Specially the quick fix is good to know!

Samuel Orsenne, 2007-09-27

Tomtom software itself has a kind of traffic jam avoidance systems.

That should work, if you use it on a 3G smartphone.

Any real life experience with that?

pierre

pierre kerchner, 2007-10-02

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I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.

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