It's rare when a single company dominates a sector for any more than a few months, especially in today's buy-it, use-it, throw-it-away, and move-on-to-the-next-big-thing culture. But that's exactly what TomTom has managed to do with it's Go 720 over the past nine months in the UK. I've reviewed many rival products in that time, and still no manufacturer has managed to match its mind-blowing combination of groundbreaking new features, solid routing, great navigation, and superb usability. And though according to recent reports the company is struggling to make ends meet, no mobile phone software has managed to come close to it either.
Now, however, the end is nigh for the 720, the 520, and the 920. They're to be replaced by the x30 range imminently, and the top end model - the 930 Traffic - is the first to make it into our eager hands.
The first thing you'll notice is that very little has changed physically. Not that this is a bad thing: it still boasts that distinctive and attractive half moon shape; it still sports the same bright and clear 4.3in screen, and other attributes are just as good too. The build oozes quality, with a soft-touch plastic rear and heavily sprung latch to lock it onto the windscreen mount. And on the bottom edge, all the same ports and connections are present: the mini USB port is in the middle (used for synchronising and charging the device), and this is flanked by an SD card slot for loading music files, a 3.5mm stereo audio output and a socket for the included TMC antenna.
Fire it up and you'll find that the basic appearance of the maps is the same too, the user interface little changed and the resolution of the screen identical. Even under the hood, few changes have been made. The Go 930 Traffic is powered by a 400MHz processor and 64MB RAM as the Go 720 was, which is fair enough: there were no problems with performance a year ago, and there are none with this newer model either.
So what exactly is different this time around? Well, it's in the software that the big changes have been made. The first big upgrade is the addition of what TomTom has dubbed IQ Routes, and it marks a fundamental change of approach in the way the sat-nav works out how to get you from A to B. Previously, TomTom and other sat-navs calculated routes based on profiles - fastest, most efficient, shortest - and available data such as speed limits. Now, IQ Routes adds, so TomTom claims, further intelligence to that process, factoring in the average speed of traffic on roads so the sat-nav always chooses the fastest, most efficient route. It even takes into account of whether it's a weekday or a weekend.