Another LIVE service is the real-time fuel pricing. Not only do you get to see which petrol stations are nearby, but you can also find out which ones currently have the cheapest prices. Updates aren't automatic - these must be initiated manually, downloaded over the built-in mobile data link. But we found the prices accurate for the areas we tried. You can check the cheapest petrol on your current navigated route, too, making it easier to plan the most cost effective stop. Why have your wallet raided by a motorway service station when there's a cheaper alternative just round the corner when you turn off?
Speed camera data is kept up-to-date automatically over LIVE. Alerts come via Road Angel, and include regularly updated mobile safety camera information, plus potential accident blackspots. Google Local Search also operates via the LIVE connection. Where most sat-nav POI databases can be patchy, Google Local Search will even include the local village pub or a nearby dogs' home, although it isn't infallible. You can also get a five-day weather forecast for your current area, or any other destination or POI, again downloaded over GPRS.
The IQ Routes system introduced with the last generation has been improved still further using LIVE, too, with more timely updates on historic traffic density. This means the TomTom calculates routes based on a more realistic estimate of road speed, rather than simply using the speed limit. The final LIVE feature is a Buddy system, which finds and tracks friends. But they also have to be TomTom users with an account, and be willing to be tracked.
The LIVE system sounds like a revolution in sat-nav functionality, and it adds some genuinely useful capabilities. But there's a catch. You only get the services free for three months. After that they are £7.99 a month, which means that to get most of the GO 540 LIVE's new features you will be spending close to £100 a year. LIVE is also only available in the UK at the moment, as international roaming agreements aren't yet in place.
As with the last TomTom we looked at, the 540's other big downside is that all these myriad features make the menu system overly complicated, and you will probably only use a small subset of this device's abilities. So it's easy to forget where a feature is and find yourself wading around the menus to locate it. That's only a minor criticism, however, and you can choose to limit the menu choices.