Another important icon on the initial screen leads to the LIVE services, TomTom’s mobile data-enabled facilities. Chief amongst these is of course HD Traffic. This augments the traditional Trafficmaster-based RDS-TMC system with triangulation of TomTom LIVE devices and Vodafone mobile phones to provide a more detailed picture of traffic jams. With updates delivered every few minutes over the mobile data link, this is the most responsive jam-detection system currently available.
The rapid routing really comes into its own when you encounter a jam, too. Assuming you’re stationary, and HD Traffic has picked up the blockage, just hit the bar on the right of the screen, then the Minimise Delays menu option. Within a few seconds, an alternative route will be displayed, and you can make your way out of the gridlock. Most traffic-enabled sat-navs offer this kind of facility, but having an alternative provided this rapidly means you can use it safely in stop-start jams. The software may also reroute you automatically, depending on your settings.
The remaining LIVE services aren’t unique. Google Local Search is on hand, providing a much wider database of POIs than the one stored locally. You can find these freely by keyword across an entire country. There are up-to-date weather reports for your current location, your destination or another place of your choosing. The locations of speed cameras are also kept up to date via LIVE, and the mobile data link itself is used to provide a quick, rough coordinate fix, to speed up GPS lock.
Overall, TomTom doesn’t offer as many LIVE services as some data-enabled sat-navs, such as Garmin’s, but the most important ones are in evidence, particularly HD Traffic. You can get some of the features in other European countries, too. TomTom has also significantly reduced the cost of its LIVE services. You get a year’s usage out of the box, and then the annual subscription is £47.50, around half what LIVE cost when it was launched at the end of 2008.