When we first took a look at TomTom's LIVE system in the shape of the GO 540, we could see it was a huge leap forward in sat-nav technology. Although further testing has shown that it's not completely perfect, we still think this is the most significant development for some years. However, LIVE has remained a premium feature, requiring a monthly subscription and is only available in top-of-the-range devices. So now TomTom has decided to give LIVE slightly more mass appeal by offering it in a lower-end model, the new XL LIVE IQ Routes Edition.
At first glance, the XL LIVE looks similar to its higher-end GO cousin. It sports a 4.3in widescreen and has the same general interface. However, the differences are obvious as soon as you try to mount the XL in your car. Instead of the streamlined Active Dock screen attachment now offered with the latest GO LIVE range, the XL keeps the Easyport of the XL and ONE.
This makes the whole unit simpler to move from car to car, as the mount can be left attached. But the device isn't that easy to detach and reattach to this mount, and you have to plug in the USB connection for the car power adapter first as well.
Fortunately, the core LIVE features remain unchanged. The main benefit is HD Traffic, which goes far beyond the capabilities of the usual RDS-TMC traffic services offered by other manufacturers. You can read exactly how this works in our recent article on HD Traffic, but in a nutshell it offers updates on more roads than services based on TrafficMaster camera information, and these are more frequent as they're delivered via mobile data link every three minutes rather than over an FM radio signal every 15 minutes.
In our long-term testing, we have found HD Traffic much more effective at avoiding nasty jams than anything which went before, although you still need to second-guess suggestions from time to time, as we explained in our detailed feature on the subject.