The GO 5100 is ourfirst glimpse of the latest mild update to theTomTom GOredesign of about two years ago, and replaces theGO5000. As the relatively small change in model name implies, this isn't a huge design upheaval. But this model introduces connectivitywith TomTom's online MyDrive service, so you can plan routes on yourdesktop, tablet or smartphone and send them to the sat-nav remotely.There are also some changes to the Live services and maps included.
The sat-nav itself isn't physically different from the 5000 it replaces. It's solidly built with a 5-inch touchscreen and attractively rounded corners. The mount is separate and uses a magnetic system to secure the device in place, so you can quickly and easily take it out of the car for safe storage, and reconnect it in about a second. The power adapter is a two-part affair, with a plug for the cigarette lighter and separate USB cable, which can be used for PC connectivity as well.
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The menu system hasn't altered much either, although this menu was a complete redesign from the icon grids of the GO 1000 series and earlier. The map has been placed more to the fore in the redesign, and most of the important menu options became a single icon strip across the centre. It was a mildly shocking step for users of existing devices, but was clearly created by a team with good user experience design ideas, because virtually everything is now three clicks or less away, with the main options on the first row of icons.
One minor tweak here is that the Home and new Work favourites are now in the first block of icons, so you can navigate to either with a single finger press. You can also reorder the icons to fit your preference. But otherwise the menu is the same as it has been for the last couple of years. If you don't want to use your fingers to enter an address, there's a decent voice control system available, although you can't access every feature with this.
Whilst TomTom has focused its development attention on MyDrive and Live services, the everyday navigational experience hasn't been updated noticeably with the GO 5100, although TomTom simplified the display compared to the 1000-series and earlier. But it remains a comfortable and streamlined experience, with plenty of data about your route and upcoming turnings, although not so much to be confusing.
The ribbon of information along the bottom is no more, replaced by a strip to the right. This contains estimated arrival time, distance and time to destination, plus traffic delay information. The map itself is clear, with full-screen graphics to help you at junctions, and 3D models of landmarks in built-up areas, although we remain unconvinced about how useful these really are.
As with all the devices in TomTom's range of the last couple of years, the Live services come with a lifetime subscription. This being a x000-series device, rather than x00-series, this also means a lifetime of built-in data service too. Before the 5000 and 6000 arrived, the Live services entailed a regular subscription fee, which is still around £50 a year.
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The former Live services used to contain a few more services (e.g. weather) than the current version, which apart from MyDrive only includes traffic and speed cameras, with the latter an optional extra with the 5000 and 6000. For the 5100, however, the speed cameras also have a lifetime subscription. The maps include a lifetime subscription, as with the previous generation, but now the 5100 comes with world maps, which isn't every single country, but certainly covers a very large proportion of them.
MyDrive is a Web application (essentially a website), so should work with most devices capable of running a modern browser. Once you have logged in with the same ID that you use for the sat-nav's Live services, you are presented with a map that is essentially the same as the one used by TomTom's live online traffic service and route planner.
You can search the address database and when you have found places you want stored on your sat-nav, you can send them to it via its Live services connection. However, you can only search for addresses, not Points of Interest (POIs), which puts the search abilities behind those of the sat-nav itself. You will need to search separately for some locations to find their addresses or postcodes, and use these to find your chosen location in MyDrive.
When you send a destination from MyDrive to your TomTom sat-nav, you receive a message onscreen and this becomes your destination, as well as being entered at the top of your Recent Destinations. You can also use MyDrive to set your Home and Work locations. There's a route planner, so you can check the duration of a journey before sending a destination to the sat-nav.
Although the TomTom sat-nav destination entry system is reasonably friendly, using a general keyword search, it's still not the most pleasant way to enter lots of addresses if you're planning for a big multi-waypoint trip. MyDrive lets you use a more comfortable device to enter your destinations. You could even give someone else your login details and have them send you destinations. There's no specific multi-user version of MyDrive, nor plans for such that we know of, but it could be possible to send itineraries to a fleet of drivers using their logins and MyDrive.
The other use for MyDrive is to upload custom points of interest files. This uses the .ov2 file format, which is TomTom's proprietary POI system. The My Places section of MyDrive gives you the option to upload these online, which are then added to the My Places section on the sat-nav after synchronisation. Since TomTom has been using .ov2 for a while now, and you could add them to devices manually before MyDrive, there are tools available for creating .ov2 files and converting other formats.
We found useful .ov2 repositories available for free online, including National Trust sites, LPG fuel stations, real ale pubs and great places to grab a fry-up. Once uploaded, these appear as categories in the My Places favourites section. Selecting one finds the nearest options available in that category, as with built-in POI categories. The user-generated databases we tried were pretty comprehensive in the areas we found ourselves in, making this a genuinely useful way of customising your TomTom's address database.
The TomTom GO 5100 is a very capable sat-nav. It's not a significant step up over the 5000, apart from the world maps and lifetime safety cameras. So users of the latter shouldn't be too jealous, especially as the MyDrive compatibility is available to existing 5000 users with the latest software update. However, users of earlier models or with none at all should seriously consider the GO 5100. It is pricey, but TomTom's Live Traffic is the best in the business, and the lifetime supply of world maps and safety cameras certainly sweeten the deal. This is currently the best 5-inch sat-nav on the market, even if you do pay a premium.
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The TomTom GO 5100 takes over from its predecessor as the top premium 5-inch sat-nav option.