The redesign of the device itself is more of an indication of the changes underneath, rather than significant in itself. The 5-inch widescreen is encased in a chassis with rounded edges, but otherwise uses similar materials to previous premium TomToms.
The mount works in a similar fashion to premium TomToms since the GO 1000 LIVE, too, with a multi-pin connector at the bottom and a magnetic system securing the device. However, the connector is now fixed, and the power cable uses micro USB to connect to the mount. The same cable is used for updating the device software as connecting in a car, with the GO 500 also including a micro USB connector.
The GO 500 has an unspecified amount of storage on board, but the unit comes with European maps pre-installed and lifetime updates, plus there's a Micro SD slot for adding maps as well. TomTom has even changed the look and feel of its navigational map view. The background map is subtly shaded, with the route in blue. The map screens also feel a lot faster to redraw and more responsive than previous TomToms.
The next turning and its distance are found at the top, with your current speed and the limit at the bottom. The estimated arrival time and distance to destination (although you can change this) are now on the top right above what TomTom is now calling the Route Bar, rather than in a strip at the bottom.
The Route Bar is a development of the traffic bar of previous models, but now shows you speed cameras as you close in on them as well as jams. The full-screen Advanced Lane Guidance graphic that pops up at complex junctions has been redesigned, too, and adds to the generally clearer design. These now also include 3D landmarks, although as with every other version of this we have seen only a few of the most notable landmarks are included – for example, Wembley Stadium and Neasden Hindu Temple in London.
Should I buy the TomTom GO 500?
Yes. If you drive enough to justify buying a dedicated sat nav and need live traffic, it's the best sat nav at this price around and a big leap forward over previous TomToms. The new menu design will be an acquired taste for some, but we think it's a bold and successful move and the lifetime traffic updates are a massive plus.
Its most obvious competitor, the Garmin nuvi 2598 LMT-D, is an excellent sat nav but the TomTom's superior live traffic and great new design edges it. The Garmin only supports Bluetooth links with Android phones, too, which means the TomTom wins by default if you want traffic updates and own an iPhone.
After a few years of riding on the laurels of GO 1000 LIVE and its derivatives, TomTom has delivered another ground-breaking sat-nav. If you have £200 or so to spend on decent sat nav, spend your money here.