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TomTom GO 500 review

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TomTom GO 500
  • TomTom GO 500
  • TomTom GO 500
  • TomTom GO 500
  • TomTom GO 500

Summary

Our Score:

10

User Score:

Pros

  • Lifetime TomTom traffic
  • Lifetime European map updates
  • Redesigned menu interface

Cons

  • Traffic updates require smartphone tethering
  • LIVE services only include traffic and speed camera updates

Key Features

  • 5-inch widescreen
  • Maps for 45 European countries with lifetime updates
  • Lifetime TomTom Traffic via smartphone tethering
  • Radically redesigned menu system
  • Unified address and points of interest keyword search
  • Manufacturer: TomTom
  • Review Price: £189.99

What is the TomTom GO 500?

The TomTom GO 500 is a fully featured 5-inch widescreen sat nav with lifetime traffic and map updates. The last time TomTom made a major upgrade to its range was the introduction of the GO 1000 LIVE around 18 months ago. But the GO 500 is potentially an even larger leap. Not only does the GO 500's body mark a change in physical design, but it also has a completely redesigned menu system and reappraisal of interactive features.

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TomTom GO 500 - New Menu System

TomTom's menus have evolved over the years, and although the GO 1000 LIVE included some significant – and welcome – improvements, the overall look and feel was familiar after previous models. With the GO 500, however, the menu is almost unrecognisable, and works in a rather different way.

No longer can you call up the menu by simply pressing the map. Instead, a circle containing four dots on the bottom left-hand side of the screen is used. The menu itself is completely different from previous TomTom generations, with the traditional division between addresses and Points of Interest erased.

Instead, a single Search option leads to a two-paned results screen with addresses on the left and POIs on the right. You can enter an address or POI by keyword, without needing to know which town either is in, although you can also enter a full seven-digit UK postcode.

You will even see results from other countries, so you don't need to switch between them, and these appear dynamically as you type in letters. Navman's Spirit interface has used a system like this for some years, and once you get used to it we consider a unified keyword search the most friendly way of finding a destination, so we're pleased to see it on the GO 500.

Overall, the menu system is very easy to use. There's a My Places option where you can navigate to a Home location, favourite or recent destination. There are also menu entries to find Parking and Petrol Stations in the area, although we couldn't find other categories of POI.

The menu feels sparse, but the interface is uncluttered. There are icons where previously you would have found text, but once you figure out what the icons do, all the necessary functions are available. The new menu system is an audacious step, and in our opinion a genuinely clever progressive step in user-focused design.

TomTom GO 500 - Features

Aside from the completely redesigned menu, the other surprising change is that the GO 500 is a live-enabled device, despite not having a model name with LIVE in it. This means you get live traffic updates and traffic updates, but not the more advanced features of LIVE TomToms. TomTom has adjusted its policy, in part presumably because other manufacturers are offering live-enabled services at this price, for example the Garmin nuvi 2598 LMT-D.

For the TomTom GO 500, LIVE services are delivered via your smartphone's data link through a Bluetooth connection. It uses the Personal Hotspot function on iOS or Bluetooth Tethering on Android. TomTom specifies iOS 6, Android 4.0 or Blackberry 10 as a minimum, but we had no trouble connecting to services via an iPhone running iOS 5.1.3.

Once you have hooked up to a smartphone, the two LIVE services available are traffic and speed cameras. The traffic service is for the lifetime of the device, but speed camera updates require a paid-for subscription, although the first three months are free.

These are the services most travellers will want to use. TomTom doesn't call its traffic service HD Traffic anymore, but the TomTom Traffic service is the same thing. Our experience is that this is still the most detailed and frequently updated traffic service available, and we found the GO 500 was just as good through a smartphone.

However, it's worth noting that although TomTom claims the data consumption is minimal – just 7MB per month for an hour's usage a day during peak traffic times – you will need to ensure your smartphone has enough power to maintain the connection for your entire journey, or you will lose the service. The LIVE services also don't include extras like local search, weather or travel digests.

alex mason

July 11, 2013, 9:31 am

capacitive touch screen on these things yet? Many still use resistive which in this day and age, when you can get a capacitive touch android phone for buttons, is unforgivable.

Tony Swales

July 18, 2013, 12:29 pm

yes it is capacitive with pinch to zoom

http://www.pocket-lint.com/rev...

http://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/pr...

David

August 4, 2013, 6:34 am

Seems like a step backwards. I remember having to connect phones via Bluetooth. When it didn't work, TomTom always said it was the phone, the phone manufacturer always said it was TomTom. No thanks, I'm not going down that road again.

cleanupcars

August 6, 2013, 11:24 pm

In my opinion, the device in its current stage of development is behind the previous generation of devices. For example:
- Navigate using gps coordinates absent (really bad omission for me),
- Clock display not prominent
- Font Size (its tiny),
- Easier "Recent Destination" to "My Places",
- Easier way to store current location in "My Places",
- Edit Names in "MyPlaces" absent
- Customer POI's don't exist
- "Block Road" feature absent
- "Closed Road" doesn't seem to work
- Better "Avoid Tolls" implementation

The Traffic update works very well via Bluetooth, & excellent display.

For removing features that were present in last gen devices, 10 is too high a score for now.

laughingjohn

August 23, 2013, 4:33 pm

Did you actually use this thing?

I bought one and it's not bad. If you ignore the the suggested "live" reroutes (which added 2 hours to my first "should have been" 4 hour journey), and the fact the connection drop outs between the device and phone it's a fairly good but very basic SatNav.

Maybe I'm odd but I didn't have much of a problem with the old menu system, and in some circumstances find this worse. The (projected arrival time/miles left) is very hard to read, and you can't have both at once. Also I found locating speed cameras a bit hit and miss and when downloading the latest cameras it always seems to fail a few times before actually completing.

Searching for destinations that are a pub or restaurant also seems to be pretty lacking. I've already encountered one pub I wanted to go to that doesn't exist according to TomTom but Google happily finds it (Spotted Dog, Dunmow).

For the price and with all the missing features (see Gerry's comment) from old TomTom devices I really cannot fathom how you concluded this was a 10/10 device. Not being able to route around a road block is unforgivable IMHO.

Are you being sponsored?

enfim

September 1, 2013, 9:28 am

10/10?! for a GPS device that doesn't take latitude/longitude coordinates like every other previous model? for a GPS device that doesn't even support door numbers? are you kidding? i bought one and i'm returning it today to the store. It's unconceivable that the software on the recent tomtom models doesn't support something as simple as latitude/longitude! instead, when someone gives you a location in lat/lng, you have to open google maps, search for a street name close to the location, then enter the street name on the go 500, then navigate its map to search for the same point, and then click it to finally make it your destination. Really easy and intuitive, right? From TomTom forums, the only official response to this huge fail is something like "oh yeah, sometime in the future we are thinking of updating the software to have latitude/longitude support again. Till then, use mapcodes, a way of referencing places that no one uses, so you have to go to a site that translates lat/lng into mapcodes and then use it....oh, btw, we were kidding. the new devices also don't support mapcodes. so wait for a software update that no one knows when or if is coming"

Redbadger27

October 14, 2013, 3:04 pm

Not sure why you think it doesn't support street numbers. Bought one on Friday and it supports them fine. Maybe there's been a software update since you wrote your comments?

Ian

November 3, 2013, 9:58 am

Disappointed, the ability to make a map correction feature of older models has gone. Even after entering an address for a "My Place" the device seems to opt for the nearest cross street when creating a route. The ability to choose screen colours has been removed. Even with the latest map loaded the device still chose non-existent road as part of the route.

Heather Mills

November 5, 2013, 10:03 pm

Latest update released 5-Nov-2013 now includes ability to enter latitude/longitude coordinates

Keith

December 19, 2013, 3:48 am

Nice idea to update traffic via a smartphone but why oh why only allow tethering via Bluetooth? this rules out a whole lot of current phones using WP8. On the box it says "Traffic via Smartphone" only a half truth tom-tom! very disappointed, BUYER BEWARE!!

Humph3

March 3, 2015, 3:48 pm

I am interested in updating my satnav and read the review here. This
site gives it 10/10. I was just logging in to pay for one after reading
this "Trusted Review" when I had a look at what others who had purchased
this satnav had said on Amazon. Thank goodness. Before you buy, read
those, I think they are more trusted than here. I wonder how long this
comment will remain on this site.

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