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TomTom Start 20 Review

Pros

  • 4.3in widescreen
  • Same menu system as higher-end models
  • 4GB memory

Cons

  • The RDS-TMC receiver add-on is expensive
  • 5in models now available for same price
  • Integrated screen mount

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £99.99
  • 4.3in widescreen
  • UK and Ireland maps
  • Full UK postcode entry
  • RDS-TMC traffic ready
  • European version also available

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.
If you’re on a tight budget, you used to be confined to a 3.5in non-widescreen sat-nav. But with 5in models falling inexorably in price, and the Mio Spirit 685 in particular costing around £100, the 4.3in widescreen models have had to follow suit. TomTom’s Start used to be the 3.5in model, with the XL offering the 4.3in display. Now the Start 20 brings the larger screen size to the budget end of the market, and this offers 480 x 272 pixels of resolution, the same as TomTom’s high-end GO LIVE 1000.

But the bigger display is not the only enhancement. The mounting system has been upgraded to the one used on the Via Live 120 and GO LIVE 825. Instead of a detachable ring, which was always a little fiddly, a permanently attached ball-jointed arm is used. This still folds relatively flat, so the Start 20 can be carried in a pocket from car to car if required. The car power cable is now TomTom’s standard two-piece affair, so the wire can be separated from the plug and used to hook the Start 20 up to a PC for downloading extra maps and updates. The Start 20 comes with 4GB of internal memory, regardless of whether you get the European or UK and Ireland-only model. So a full set of Western European maps can be stored on the device unlike Mio’s Spirit 685.

TomTom had chosen to simplify its menu with previous Starts. This was really rather complex for the newcomer to sat-navs or occasional user. But the menu introduced with the GO LIVE 1000 and Via Live 120 is a lot more streamlined, so it made sense to bring this to entry-level devices as well. Touching the screen in map view takes you to a simple six-icon main menu, which then takes you to further submenus of extra choices.

Entering a destination offers the usual range of options, with the ability to enter an address via the traditional city-street-house number sequence or via postcode, although you can’t search for a keyword here so will need to know which town a street is in. The Points Of Interest (POI) database does let you search by name, or you can use the traditional method of drilling down by category. You can also save a Home location and list of Favourites, as well as navigating to a point on the map, entering latitude and longitude coordinates, and your last known location. This usually means where you turned the device off, so can help you find where you parked your car and headed off on foot. You can also plan a route with multiple destinations.
TomTom Start 20
The Start 20 offers a comprehensive range of routing options, including the usual fastest and shortest, plus walking and bicycle options and TomTom’s assessment of the most economical. The IQ Routes system is used for calculating, although you can turn this off if you want a less accurate idea of your journey time! For those who are not familiar with IQ Routes, this uses a database of historic traffic speeds, which also takes into account the time of day and day of week. So, barring unusual incidents or roadworks, the estimate of journey time should be much more realistic when enabled. We’ve tested IQ Routes-based sat-navs for a few years now, and can confirm that it’s usually very close to correct, unless you drive noticeably faster or quicker than the average person.

The Start 20 is ready to receive traffic updates via RDS-TMC. You need to buy the receiver, which comes with a lifetime subscription, to activate this. This will set you back £49.99, which does start to push the price of the Start 20 perilously close to higher-end TomTom models. There’s the facility to report safety camera locations and make a note of any errors in the map via the Map Corrections system, although this information will only be uploaded to TomTom when you next connect the device to a PC running the Home desktop management software, unlike TomTom’s mobile data-connected LIVE devices. You can make entering this infomration easier by placing an icon onscreen for direct access, using the Make your own menu system, which can also be configured with options like nearby car parks and taking you directly to postcode entry. If you add more than one option here, however, the onscreen button takes you to a submenu containing your choices, which isn’t quite so convenient.

The general navigational experience is classic TomTom. The map shows your route as a red line, with the bottom of the screen taken up by a bar of information including current speed and speed limit, details of your next turning, and ETA plus remaining journey time. TomTom has also included widgets, once only available in its premium models. Advanced Lane Guidance is present, providing full-screen graphics at some junctions showing the carriageways to be in and signposts to look out for, and helpful schematics in the bottom bar at other junctions.
TomTom Start 20 1
Spoken commands include full street names, helping you navigate without looking at the sat-nav screen. As you approach your destination, the Parking Assist function will ask if you want to find a nearby car park, allowing you to call up a list from the POI database and switch navigation to one of them. This broadly parallels the Clever Parking facility provided by Navigon in devices such as the Navigon 40 Premium.

Verdict

TomTom’s Start 20 still isn’t the most keenly priced sat-nav on the market. But street prices for the UK-only model have already fallen below £100, with the European version £10-20 more expensive. Whilst you can get Mio’s 5in Spirit 685 for the same as this, with RDS-TMC traffic already enabled, the latter lacks full UK postcode entry, which can be extremely useful. So the Start 20 isn’t the absolute pinnacle of sat-nav value, but it does bring yet more of TomTom’s premium features down to an even more affordable level.

We continually check thousands of prices to show you the best deals. If you buy a product through our site we will earn a small commission from the retailer – a sort of automated referral fee – but our reviewers are always kept separate from this process. You can read more about how we make money in our Ethics Policy.

Trusted Score


Score in detail

  • Value 9
  • Features 8
  • Performance 8
  • Design 8

Features

Screen Size (inches) (Inch) 4.3in
Display Type Color
General Features RDS-TMC traffic ready

Physical Specifications

Live Services No
Height (Millimeter) 80mm
Width (Millimeter) 119mm
Depth (Millimeter) 25mm
Weight (Gram) 0.181g

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