TomTom Go 740 Live review
A big leap forward for in-car navigation, but its cost means it's only for high mileage or regular drivers.
It came as some surprise to us to hear that TomTom was preparing to release a new range of sat-navs when the news surfaced around a month ago. It was only in June, after all, that the 530, 730 and 930 devices hit the shops.
With hindsight the latter launch looks as if it was timed purely and simply to take advantage of the summer holiday rush; though the x30 devices served to consolidate TomTom's position in the high-end sat-nav market, they offered few major upgrades over the previous range.
The Go x40 range (the 740 with European maps is reviewed here), however, is a different kettle of fish entirely. It's an overhaul in every sense of the word, and the first in what we expect to be a wave of connected navigation devices. It has a completely new, slimmer chassis and a (long-overdue) new windscreen mount but, more important than all this, it comes equipped with a built-in SIM and what TomTom is calling HD Traffic.
Spurious buzzwords aside, what this boils down to is not only a more reliable connection - via the Vodafone GPRS network - but also a much more complete and 'live' traffic information service. As well as the information from roadside TrafficMaster cameras, the TomTom Go 740 and its sister devices can also use GPS information relayed from other x40 devices, plus the cell triangulation data from Vodafone mobile users.
In use it works well. We tested it on a drive across London and on a 500-mile drive from the south east to Liverpool and back, and the traffic reports were both more frequent and tallied more readily with radio traffic reports than any other sat-nav we've yet tested. Delays are displayed in minutes on the right of the screen and once the delays reach the stage at which there's a faster route available, the 740 will ask you whether you wish to recalculate.
The built in SIM also offers other benefits. Not only do you receive this extended traffic information, but you can also use it to access Google Local Search. No longer do you need to have to dig out the post code information for your destination if it happens to be a non-residential address. Just pop in the name of the hotel, restaurant or shop you're heading to and you'll be able to navigate straight there.
There's also a fuel price search: click a few buttons and the 740 scurries off to find the cheapest unleaded, diesel or rarer alternative options in the vicinity or on your route, giving you the option to alter your route to take in that station or to drive straight there. The speed camera information has also been improved by the addition of live speed camera updates; this taps into the Road Angel speed camera database, and provides user-updated alerts about active mobile speed camera locations in addition to the usual static camera information.
Beyond the SIM, there are other improvements. The IQ Routes capability sees an upgrade, and now bases its route planning not simply on whether you're driving on a weekday or the weekend, as before, but by the hour of day. This means that during rush hour, the device will plan a different route to the middle of the night, for instance. Planning the same route across London at 5.30pm and 11pm appropriately generated very different results.
The speech recognition tools are another area of improvement, adding the ability to control various aspects of the device - such as switching between 2D and 3D views as well as simply entering addresses. We found this worked well, but though it recognised street names and cities okay, it occasionally had difficulty in recognising numbers, bizarrely.
|Price ex VAT||£260|
|Price inc VAT||£299|
|Features & Design||5|
|Value for Money||3|
|GPS recommended use||In-car|
|Maps supplied||Western Europe|
|Resolution||480 x 272|
|Front panel memory card reader||yes|
|Traffic information||Via TMC receiver or GPRS|
|Dimensions||127 x 23 x 85mm (WDH)|