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TomTom XL Traffic Europe 22
When it ain't broke, don't fix it, goes the saying. It's over-used, but as with all such maxims, there's a nugget of eternal truth behind it. After all, why change something - like a TomTom - when it's so incredibly good in the first place?
It's something the sat-nav giant seems to have been trying to bear in mind with its latest generation of high-end devices: the Go x30 range's physical design and hardware specification is identical to its forbears - only the software inside has changed.
The trouble is, in the world of technology, if you don't fix a non-broken thing you often wind up falling behind simply because your product is perceived as old-fashioned. I was disappointed to find that the x30 range had added so little to the x20 range - there's not much to persuade people to upgrade, even though they're still the best sat-navs around, bar none. But I was pleased to find that the next generation TomTom XL has had a more thorough revamp all round; and I'm not talking about the name.
So what's new? Well, for starters, the chassis has lost its distinctive almost-semi-circular curve. It's still curvy, but a lot less bulbous than previous generations and that bodes well for your pocket - it's a lot easier to carry around. It doesn't have the soft-touch plastics of the x30 range of devices, but there other distinguishing features: on the rear is a large silver disc that protrudes a little from the chassis. This houses a new speaker that is extremely loud and clear, and doubles as the clip for the windscreen mount, which has also been completely redesigned.
TomToms have been crying out for a better windscreen mount for some time now. Even the £400, top-of-the-range TomTom Go 930 Traffic still comes with a stubby, cheap-looking push-on mount. It works, but I find I have to reseat it every two or three days to avoid the inevitable mid-corner disengagement. The one that comes with the XL is a huge improvement. It maintains the adjustability of the previous model, but instead of using brute force to stick it to the glass, you push it on, and simply twist a ring to increase the suction and lock it to the windscreen. It's very easy to do and didn't drop off once while I had it in my car.
Better still, because this 'Easyport' mount consists of a ring on a hinge rather than a protruding gooseneck or bulky articulated arm, it can be folded flat. This means you can store it in a small glove box or snap it onto the rear of the XL when you leave the car parked in a dark and dingy multi-story.