TomTom Go Live 825 £230
16th Jun 2011 | 13:48
Affordable connected sat nav shows rivals how it should be done
TomTom Go Live 825: Overview
Sat navs may be one of the most beneficial gadgets ever invented, but navigating your way through all the available options can be a nightmare.
TomTom aims to simplify things by splitting its 2011 lineup into two distinct camps: 'non-connected' sat navs such as its Start 20 and Via Live 120 models and 'connected' sat navs such as the TomTom Go Live 825 Europe, part of the Go Live 800 series.
'Non-connected' sat navs eschew all the bells and whistles in favour of simplicity, which is great for casual drivers who only need to use a sat nav occasionally. Meanwhile the 'connected' ones give you all the bells and whistles and then put brass knobs on, making them ideal for 'professional' drivers who need to navigate congested roads and beyond.
We've already reviewed a 'non-connected' sat nav in the shape of the TomTom Start 20, so now let's take a look at the 'connected' alternative: the £230 TomTom Go Live 825 Europe, and explore why it's worth an extra £110.
TomTom Go Live 825: Features and performance
The first thing you notice about the TomTom Go Live 825 Europe is its 13cm 480 x 272 pixel touchscreen display. Its bright and clear screen real estate enables you to take advantage of all those 'connected' features (more on these in a minute).
The TomTom Go Live 825 Europe also includes a new orientation sensor, which enables the display to swivel 180 degrees – which is handy as TomTom has redesigned the mounting arm so you can place your sat nav either on your windscreen or on your car's dashboard (provided you also buy the optional dash mount).
Other physical features include a simplified 12V charger plug with mini-USB cable, which enables you to sync the TomTom Go Live 825 Europe easily with your Mac or PC without the needed for additional cables. You also get a mini SD card slot for expansion – handy if you want to buy additional maps later, although it comes with full UK and European maps covering 45 countries.
Other goodies inside the sat nav itself include built-in Bluetooth and 4GB of internal flash memory.
The biggest change, however, has been to TomTom's sat nav operating system: it's cleaner and simpler to use than before, with a logical series of menus and sub-menus that make it easy to find your way around. You'll notice that getting around or accessing menus requires quite a firm press of the touchscreen to get your input to register – but better that than the other extreme, which is just plain annoying.
Going alongside the cosmetic changes on the TomTom Go Live 825 Europe are a deeper set of improvements that should help improve TomTom's already fearsome reputation.
These include thousands of new kilometres of roads, a much better selection of points of interest (POI) – that now includes amenities such as local restaurants as well as national chains – and, of course, those 'connected' Live features.
These give your TomTom Go Live 825 Europe a year's free access to features including TomTom HD Traffic, which gives you updates on the traffic situation on your chosen route every two minutes; with the results displayed in a slender indicator column on the screen's right-hand side. This flashes up potential problems ahead using red or orange indicators, enabling you to plot an alternative route well before you reach them.
Other Live features include updated information on fixed and mobile safety cameras, local weather reports with five-day forecasts as well as Live QuickGPSFix and Google Local Search – for those times when the built-in POIs can't find what you're looking for.
All of this information is accessed and updated using the TomTom Go Live 825's built-in SIM, so you don't have to worry about connecting your mobile to receive them. The only real downside is that you'll have to pay an annual fee of around £47 once your year's free subscription is up – but if you drive a lot, we think that's a price worth paying.
Out on the road, the TomTom Go Live 825 Europe really proves its mettle. Our combined test route of rural, urban and arterial roads really put the sat nav through its paces – and it was very rarely found wanting. We particularly like the fact that 2011 TomToms now include road names among their voice instructions, making it far easier to take the correct turn, especially at complex road junctions and roundabouts.
We also love the improvements to the way TomTom handles motorway junctions: you no longer just get close-up views of each one with arrows indicating which lanes you should be in, the arrows now also flash orange so you can tell at a glance exactly what you're supposed to do.
Teaming Live services with TomTom's IQ Routes – which intelligently picks the best route to your destination by taking into account anonymous data collected from thousands of other road users – also helps make driving a lot less stressful.
The only time the TomTom really tripped us up was when we were looking for a particular supermarket at our destination using the Points Of Interest search – only to be greeted with identical names for each one, making it difficult to pinpoint the exact store we wanted.
TomTom Go Live 825: Verdict
TomTom is on a roll with the Go Live 825 Europe. Not only has it been able to make the world's best sat navs even easier and more pleasurable to use, but it's done so in an intelligent, engaging way that leaves the competition even further behind.
From simple changes such as the improved integrated screen/ dash mount to the changes it's made to its sat nav operating system, TomTom's sheer class, quality and attention to detail shines through.
TomTom's new operating system really shines on the Go Live 825 Europe, carefully balancing ease of use with lots of tweakable features. The whole environment feels slick, polished and a pleasant place to be.
Better yet are a useful range of sat nav features including spoken road names to make navigating junctions easier, as well as clearer signposting at motorway intersections. Double thumbs up.
Not a lot, to be honest. When you're paying for a premium product you expect premium features, and that's pretty much what you get.
The only things that are a little annoying are the insensitivity of the touchscreen – which feels a little kludgy when you compare it to something like the iPhone 4 – and the ongoing costs associated with those Live features. But then if you're going to moan about the cost of these, you've clearly bought the wrong sat nav in the first place.
The TomTom Go Live 825 Europe proves that the world's best sat nav is now even better. The new operating system, improved UI and enhanced navigation options are worth the money alone. Optional Live services such as Traffic HD and Safety Camera updates are the cherry and the icing of an already yummy cake.