The TomTom brand is now so strong that some even use it to mean any sat-nav device. However, despite having a full range of options, none of TomTom’s products have usually been the cheapest available. Now TomTom hopes to take on even that portion of the market with its new Start. Slotting in below the ONE, the new model has the same 3.5in non-widescreen display, but fewer features.
TomTom is also hoping to woo the more lifestyle-oriented buyer by offering the Start in a variety of colours. You can choose between black, blue, green, red, purple, yellow and orange. Each comes with a grey carry pouch finished with a flash of colour coded to the device, although we found the wrap-around strap used to secure this shut was a little fiddly.
Like the ONE and XL, the Start has a mount, which is integrated into the device itself, and you can fit the whole thing into the aforementioned carry pouch. This is harder than some mounts to secure to a windscreen, particularly in cold weather, and took us a couple of attempts before we managed to prevent it falling off in transit. The mount itself can be detached from the device, and can be reversed.
Where TomTom’s GO, XL and ONE all sport approximately the same menu system, or variations thereof, the Start is a bit of a departure. A tap on the map calls up just two large icons, with a row of smaller ones along the bottom. TomTom’s usual array of menu icons has presumably been reduced so as not to confuse newcomers to satellite navigation. The two remaining icons let you plan a route, or return to the map view.
Planning a route calls up a more familiar TomTom menu. Here you can choose to navigate to a home location, any saved favourites, or a list of recent destinations – something we find very useful indeed in a sat-nav. Otherwise you can navigate to an address or postcode, a point of interest, or browse the map and simply choose any point as your destination. The postcode entry system supports full 7-digit entry, and will then give you the option to enter a house number as well. So if a postcode covers a long street, you will be taken to exactly the right point along it. However, the Start has no keyword search facility for addresses. So, unless you know the postcode, you will need to drill down from city to street, and if you’re not sure of the city you will have to use trial and error.
There is a search facility in the Points of Interest (POI) database, however, although you can’t use this across an entire country. Instead, you must search near your current location, in a specific city, near your Home location, along a route, or at the destination. But the system does save you scrolling through a myriad of POI categories to find the right one, although this method is still available if you simply want to browse the possibilities.