TomTom GO Live 1000 £215
22nd Nov 2010 | 10:40
Is TomTom's new high-end sat nav good enough to lead the line?
TomTom Go Live 1000: Overview
The sat nav market is becoming a very crowded place, and the quality of hardware has rocketed in the last year.
Gone are the poor quality boxes with screens like Casio calculators. The market is now awash with internet-connected iPhone-like creatures, with decent processing and a host of options.
The TomTom GO LIVE 1000 is the newest entry into the TomTom range, and sits at the top of its hierarchy of sat navs, trumped only by its larger brother, the TomTom GO LIVE 1050. However, it stands in direct competition with the excellent Garmin Nuvi 3790T and the 3760T for the sat-nav crown.
Like the Nuvi 3790T, the TomTom GO LIVE 1000 is a sleek, solid-feeling device, and the difference between earlier models is clear from the offset.
The sluggish resistive touch is gone, and TomTom has given the GO LIVE 1000 a solid capacitive screen. It feels like an iPhone, and it's more responsive to the finger than the TomTomGO 950 and easier on the eye as well.
While TomTom has led the march on sat nav technology for much of the last three years, in the GO LIVE 1000 has fallen behind somewhat. The 4.3-inch screen has a resolution of 480 x 272 and looks bright and vibrant, but is trumped by the impressive Nuvi 3790T's 800 x 480 offering.
What's more, at 218g, it weighs nearly twice as much, making it significantly more cumbersome to carry around.
TomTom has improved its bracket for attaching to your windscreen, and made it smaller, lighter and easier to use.
It has the ability to fold away neatly, and has a magnetic attachment to hold the unit in place, which makes it easy to whip it out one-handed and replace without fiddling. The suction unit uses the same twist principle as older models, but it's now smaller and easier to apply.
TomTom LIVE 1000: Features and performance
The main feature of the TomTom GO LIVE 1000 is the LIVE services, which involve a 3G connection, bringing current information to your car.
You get LIVE for a year when buying the device, but once this expires, you need to pay another £47.50 to get another year's subscription, which works out to about £4 per month.
Regular drivers will find this worth the outlay, but if you're looking for a decent navigator for those occasional forays into unknown territory then it's hardly worth the expense.
The principle LIVE feature is the HD Traffic, which lets you know of delays on the road ahead, giving you information on how long you're expected to be stuck, and offers alternative routes. This is an excellent feature, and something no road warrior should be without.
A second feature is the excellent Google Search tool, which turns your queries into directions in an impressively hassle-free manner.
A search of "Tesco" found all of the local stores, and we were able to get directions in just two button presses. "Public toilets" for the weak of bladder was also successful, as were business names and vague speculative searches such as "pizza" or "pasta."
However, this fantastic feature only serves to make up for the useless "points of interest" option. The limited categories were of little use, and while any LIVE user will find these irrelevant, should your subscription slip, they're not to be relied upon.
It's not all rosy for the TomTom, and in depth use gave us the feeling that the dated looking menu system is starting to creak under its own weight.
TomTom would argue that this has been overhauled for the LIVE 1000, but other than a slight touch up of the menus, it's frustrating to use. The range of options is frankly baffling at times, and even simple functions which need to be done at a glance are plagued with needless screens and queries.
When the unit came for review, text to speech was turned off, and it took a long trawl through the options to find the tick box we needed to select.
Performance of the TomTom GO LIVE 1000 is impressive, and it feels more fluid than previous models. This is noticeable from the outset, and it's faster to turn on and off.
Navigation of the menus is fast and responsive, and most noticeably, the maps are smooth and quick to update. The result is an end to those jerky refresh rates as your turn corners and pick up speed, which will be all too familiar to users of the older models.
The beauty of TomTom sat navs is the simplicity of its mapping, and the company hasn't messed with the winning formula. It's always clear at a glance where you're heading, and it's backed up by accurate directions, which give you prior warning of hard left or right turns, giving you that extra sense of security on unfamiliar roads.
The mapping, which was always the strength of TomTom sat navs, let the brand new GO LIVE 1000 down in a big way. On two occasions on a routine trip around Bath the sat nav tried to lead us the wrong way down a one-way street, and they weren't new streets.
TomTom LIVE 1000: Verdict
TomTom has come up with a decent sat nav, and dragged its hardware kicking and screaming into the tablet age with decent capacitive touchscreen and smooth performance.
The LIVE services are still top notch and a must-have for the road warrior, and even every day users who make regular long journeys will enjoy finding out about a traffic jam before joining the back of it.
The new capacitive touchscreen is welcome, and so is the much-improved performance, and the price is also a strong point. At £240 the TomTom GO LIVE 1000 comes in £80 cheaper than the Nuvi 3790T with a year's LIVE services – but be prepared for more outlay if you want this to continue.
The menu system is far from intuitive, and usability suffers dramatically. The TomTom GO LIVE 1000 is also pretty cumbersome and weighty, and not the most comfortable to slip into a bag or pocket when away from the car.
A good sat nav with great extra services that really make a positive difference to your driving, but this wasn't quite the all-rounder we were hoping for. The wrong directions were disappointing, and the menu system too confusing for this to be an all-out winner.