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The TomTom Go 500 is without doubt a quality piece of kit, it has an easy to use touchscreen interface which is the main method of control. The main unit features a power button, windscreen mount release button and an SD card slot. On the rear sits a round pin power input and mini USB plug for syncing with your PC or Mac.
Out of the box it is wise to start with the installation disc, this will install the 'TomTom Home' program, guiding you through the steps to set up and customise your preferences and download additional content such as traffic and speed camera alerts, new and updated maps and a variety of voice overs for turn by turn navigation.
My main attraction to this model is the blutooth connection for mobile phones, by using your 3G/GPRS enabled phone, for me a Sony K800i, you can be given live information updates and more importantly use the in build speaker and optional microphone as a hands free kit.
The bluetooth connection is simple to set up and once working is loud and clear, making chatting on the move both safe and legal.
Another lovely feature is the custom home screen function, my TomTom starts up with a big VW logo which suits my golf perfectly. Even the colours of the map can be changed to suit interior lighting.
I have no complaints about this unit, if I had to be picky it's not as compact as the newer flat models so it's isn't quite pocket sized. Be prepared to carry this in your bag, thankfully the included carry case has a stiff screen protector to avoid damage in transit.
Overall this is a brilliant GPS, it takes a little time to connect, and its a little overweight for todays market, but I picked mine up complete for £60 and at that price its worth every penny.
I have owned this portable satellite navigation system for a few years and since then I haven't bothered changing as this is that good. One thing you must note is that a GPS signal cannot be achieved indoors which makes planning routes a hassle if its raining outside. The item itself is very strong and can easily survive a drop and luckily it does come with a carrying case and one years worth of traffic updates for free although this may be outdated if the offer has a expiry date. I chose this product itself due to the strong backing provided by the brand tomtom which pioneers in these sort of GPS systems and even though at the time there were more advanced systems I would only use this product a few times a year so I might as well go cheap if you call £239 cheap. Overall a great product for beginners.
I bought the Tomtom Go 500 the week it came out. At this point Satnavs were a luxury rather than an everyday item that most cars seem to posess these days.
I had decided on Tomtom based on the fact that they seems to have good reviews of their previous models and they were a lot cheaper than the competition, though at £469 I still wouldnt call it cheap.
--Whats in the box --
On opening the box, once you have delved deep enough to get past the various manuals, you will come to the main tomtom unit. the mounting cradle which will fix the tomtom to your windscreen, a 256mb SD card pre installed with software and maps, a mains adaptor with British and European plugs, an in car charger, a wallet to put the tomtom in when not in use, a USB cable to connect to your PC and some screen wipes. In order to get up and running, you only need to refer to the quick reference guide. This will tell you how to insert the sd card, charge up the device, assemble the cradle and connect the cradle to the device.
Installation is very simple, just plug the tomtom into the mains to charge it up, insert the SD card (it will only fit in one place), do a Blue Peter job and assemble the cradle (this is probably the trickiest part). Then its the fun part, take it out into the street to show off to the neighbours.
The Tomtom 500 is operated by touching its screen in various places which correspond to the options you require. Buttons are of a reasonable size and even with my largish fingers, its very rare that i press the wrong button.
Planning a route is simple, just touch the map anywhere to bring up the main menu and then click the navigate to.. icon. From here you can navigate to home (an address you have previously set up as you 'base') or an address. Address will be the most commonly used choice here. From this selection you can then enter a house number and street name (filtered by town/city) or directly to any post code in the UK. I find this feature particularly useful when on business when an address doesnt have a house number. You can now select from a number of routes, personally, I like the tomtom to give me the quickest route. You can then view your route from the luxury of you own home by seeing a text summary, turn by turn map images or an actual start to finish demo run of your journey. If required, you can create an itinerary of places to stop off at on the way to your final destination.
One of the big plus points of the tomtom is the amount of Point of Interest types (POI's) what ship with the device. These include service stations, cash dispensers, hospitals and hotels to name a few. The beauty of this device is that you can add extra POI's by connecting to your PC via a USB lead. I have added all UK speed camera locations to my device and have set up the amount of warning I get prior to passing these cameras. This advance warning has probably saved me at least half the cost of the device in speeding fines and the increased insurance I would have had to have paid for collecting the points.
The Tomtom operates in two modes, day mode with bright vibrant colours and night mode which is basically blue on black. This mode works really well and is very pleasing on the eye in dark conditions. These colours can be changed but the defaults work perfectly well.
There are two main differences between the Tomtom 500 and the lower spec 300, namely the 500 contains all the major routes of Western Europe on the SD card (though I havent used this feature to be able to review it) and the support for bluetooth connections. Although the Tomtom doesnt support all mobile phones (a lit is available on the tomtom website) it works perfectly with my phone. This enables me to make and recieve hands-free telephone calls and also to recieve and write text messages. All spoken conversations are conducted through the in-built microphone on the cradle. The bluetooth connection opens up the device to extra services such as traffic reports along your journey, weather information on your destination,etc. These services carry a subscription charge which I havent taken out so am unable to comment on. Battery life is also adequate for most journeys. I can get between 3 or 4 hours of driving time out of the battery. You do get warning when the battery is running low. At this point I just switch the power to the in-car charger and the problem goes away.
Although the Tomtom 500 has been surpassed by newer models and the price of these devices has dropped dramatically since I bought mine, I have still been very happy with the device. Occasionally, it has taken me on what I would describe as a strange route but you must use common sense at all times. If you ignore an instruction the Tomtom gives you, it will simply recalculate itself based on your new position. I have found the expected time of arrival very useful and accurate. It is great to be able to phone ahead to a business meeting and give them your arrival time and know it will be within 5 minutes of your estimate. The only real problem I have found with the device is that sometimes, when you turn it on, the device is dead. The only way I have found to fix this is to reset the device by inserting a paper clip into the reset 'hole' on the underside of the device. This can be an annoying problem but once you know the resolution, it is easily fixed.
I would recommend this device to anyone looking at getting into satnavs for the first time. It is simple to use and extremely user friendly
TomTom GO 500 is the smartest portable car navigator.
Just plug in, switch on & GO;
Phone control support: directly call a point of interest through the GO;
Assisted Satellite Navigation allows continuous navigation, even in tunnels;
Simple touch-screen operation;
Clear, accurate turn-by-turn voice instructions;
Compact, portable design; easy to take from car to car;
Crystal-clear 3D graphics;
Door-to-door planning: Find your way to any address in your region/country;
Cross border planning: Find your way to any town across Europe using Main Roads of Europe map (17 countries included);
Optional remote control;
View route: review and test the calculated route before you actually start driving;
Dynamic status bar: improve readability by customizing status bar;
Tip feature: discover everything GO has to offer through useful onscreen tips;
Extensive guided tour: pick up the features even quicker and get the maximum out of your TomTom GO;
Hands-free calling via Bluetooth connection with mobile phone;
Integrated GPS antenna;
Speaks more than 30 languages in over 50 voices;
User interface: now including 18 languages;
A choice of routes: quickest, shortest or avoiding toll roads and congestion charge areas;
Itinerary planning: plan your trip by defining multiple waypoints and destinations;
The latest and most complete maps of the United States and Canada;
Thousands of points of interest available;
Compass mode available: displays compass on screen to have even more orientation while driving;
Car speed linked volume: volume of voice instructions will increase/decrease depending on speed of car;
Anti-glare screen; always an optimal view, even in direct sunlight;
Improved on/off button: prevents the device to turn off by accident;
Ready for TomTom PLUS services (real time information on traffic congestions, weather conditions and extra downloads such as detailed city maps, additional voices, points of interest and much more).