I think I found my satnav

by Volker Weber

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I like the navigation that TomTom provides. I like the traffic information which is more accurate than anything on German radio, most of the time. What I don't like is the way you need to tether their PNDs to a PC/Mac to update maps or update the software. And I don't like to have yet another device in carry-on luggage. Now I can have one without the other.

Yes, I am late to the game. How did that happen? Well, when I swapped the TomTom 940 for the 1000, I was suddenly without a US map. Time to look for alternatives. Since I wanted a US map, one of the "free" offerings would not cut it. Using an offboard solution like Google maps with turn-by-turn instructions would not cut it either because of roaming charges. Ovi Maps on the N8 would have been fine, but since I am carrying both an iPhone (Plan A) and a BlackBerry (Plan B), that would have been the third phone.

So TomTom it was, now on the iPhone instead of a dedicated PND. And you know what? This is a much better experience. You just download the app from the app store, which includes the map. And it just works. Since TomTom makes excellent screen mounts I wanted to have that as well. And it's more than a screen mount. It contains its own GPS receiver, a speaker louder than the iPhone provides, and it doubles as a hands free set for your phone calls. Not as good as the Plantronics K100 I love, but good enough for the occasional call.

The car kit was designed for the iPhone 3G, but it fits the iPhone 4 with a simple sticker, that came in the box but can also be ordered online through TomTom:

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You actually have to buy three pieces for the perfect solution: a TomTom app from the app store with your map, the car kit, and finally a subscription to the traffic data from within the app. The last part is the disappointing piece in the puzzle. You are already paying for the data connection to download that data, then why has TomTom to charge you an additional 30 € each year?

The app is between 40 € and 90 € depending on the map you are buying. That's a good start, without the traffic data. The car kit itself is a steep 100 €. 90 € for the Europe map, 100 € for the car kit, 30 € for traffic data. That's 220 € where you bring the device and the data connection. And it's actually more than you would have to pay if TomTom sells you device, with the map, and the traffic data, and the data connection.

Bottom line: the solution works very well for me, but TomTom should bring the price down.

Comments

US Pricing is $49.99 for the app ( US Maps ), $19.99 for traffic data and $119.95 ( excluding shipping ) for the car kit.

I've been thinking of buying this setup for myself also. The GPS unit built into my car is woefully out of date and new map cd's cost nearly $250.

Declan Lynch, 2011-01-26

US map is 45 € here, and traffic for the US is 15 €. I don't know how good the traffic data is for the US however. It depends on tracking of mobile phones here, where TomTom works with Vodafone.

Volker Weber, 2011-01-26

I have the Europe and US maps on my iPhone. Never bothered with the real TomTom kit and have not missed it. I did purchase a mount holder from ProClip. Many updates/fixes for TomTom are OTA now with MapShare built in the newest version.

Paul Mooney, 2011-01-26

Traffic data for Navigon costs only ~10€ for Navigon. No subscription!

Roland Dressler, 2011-01-27

You might get a problem with your iPhone overheating beneath your windshield in a traffic jam in summer.

Christian Heindel, 2011-01-27

while the 3GS glides into the holding device like a charm, the iPhone 4 requires a bit of fiddling round before it charges (and sometimes before it picks up GPS reception). Does the little plastic thing which I never bothered to install actually help or does it just fix the position of the iPhone 4?

Armin Roth, 2011-01-27

It helps inserting the phone.

Volker Weber, 2011-01-27

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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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