Product Type: Tomtom in GPS Navigation
Newest Review: ... The USB connection is compatible with Windows and Mac. The total cost was near two hundred pounds. I received a few messages from TomTo... more
TomTom XL IQ Routes UK & ROI
TomTom XL 2 IQ Routes Edition UK & ROI
Member Name: TheGoodSurveyer
TomTom XL 2 IQ Routes Edition UK & ROI
Advantages: Useful for route planning, good display, customizable features.
Disadvantages: Out-dated maps, free updates promise isn't true.
Satellite navigation is a technology using GPS (global positioning systems), which use three or more points to triangulate position, calculate speed and determine direction. This information can then be connected to a three dimensional grid, to map the location more accurately. As the name suggests, satellite navigation uses the satellite instruments, which are a few thousand miles in space, within the Earth's orbit. This is why it's very important to have a clear view of the sky for best results, which gives you better signals from multiple satellites.
The GPS system is becoming more common in our communication devices, which can help us to find where we are on a digital map, or help track down a lost or stolen device. Due to this, the GPS system has become more widely available through a range of electronic devices. If you have access to a home computer, which you'd like to get GPS for; although I don't see why you'd need it on a PC, you can get it as a peripheral card or USB dongle. You can also get GPS cards for notebooks and netbooks, available as express-cards and internal peripheral cards. For the average user, USB is usually good enough.
=== Why Satnav? ===
With an increase in travelling to various locations, it became more important to have access to a map. Using the GPS technology, the location is easier and quicker to spot on a digital map. The paper based map books can take a long time to use in route planning, and can be quite time consuming when looking for your current location. Keep in mind that people have different levels of map reading skills, and some people struggle to read maps effectively. Whatever the situation, it helps to have access to a device, which will make the task a little bit easier.
I heard of TomTom satellite navigation systems a few years before purchasing my own, and even then I wasn't one hundred per cent sure I was buying the best satnav, in term of value for money, ease of use, updateability and quality. I saw a TomTom listed on an online store, I read a few short comments about it, and read the technical specifications. The information was very impressive, and I thought I should buy it and see how it performs in reality. I found a case and a mains charger for it, which were being sold separately, so I decided to group all the items into a single order. The TomTom includes a mountable holder for the car, which easily clicks onto the satnav, and is very easy to mount onto the windscreen. It also has the standard car charger, which is essential to power it while driving, and a USB cable to connect it to the computer for file transfer and updates. The USB connection is compatible with Windows and Mac. The total cost was near two hundred pounds. I received a few messages from TomTom, which told me that I can get free map updates for several months, and it emphasised the accuracy of their up-to-date maps.
=== Using the device ===
A week later I received the device, so I left it to charge for several hours as instructed. I then switched on the device and had a look at the local area, which I found to have a number of mistakes. I decided the maps need updates, and because I have the email from TomTom, I can click it to get the updates free. I clicked the link, which directed me to a page to register the product on their website. Once that was complete, I got a message that I have to pay for my first map update in order to get those free updates later. I paid about thirty pounds, maybe forty. I updated the maps, but found no difference in them. I contacted TomTom a few months later, because I was trying a map update and the website was asking for another payment. TomTom sent me an automated response, and never replied after that. I never got those "free updates". A lesser problem was when the device stopped working, I sent TomTom a message, they didn't reply. I managed to repair the fault myself; I had some help and advice from members of an online community.
With the exception of several mistakes, including wrong information on one way roads, roundabouts on the map, where there aren't any roundabouts in reality, there are some good points to the TomTom XL IQ Routes. It has improved journey time and route planning, which was previously done using two spiral map books. I also found the speed camera notification to be quite accurate, and the road speed is mostly correct. This is because I used community updates for these features, but for maps this wasn't recommended, and I didn't see any user reviews to suggest community map updates to be reliable. Some of the points of interest are also correct, as are fuel stations, hospitals and other important locations. The satnav has advanced lane guidance, which tells you which lane you should take on a multi-lane road, such as dual carriageways and motorways.
This satellite navigation device can be set so it avoids certain types of roads, e.g. motorways. It has the normal display modes for daytime standard display and night mode, which is more eye-friendly at night. The map views can be toggled between 2D and 3D; I prefer the 3D view, because the view looks closer to the road layout as seen from the driver's view. The 2D view is more of an aerial view, which is better for looking through the map, but isn't as good as the 3D for the current part of the route view while driving. The 3D view is always facing forwards, no matter if that's North or any other direction. The 2D view has two options, one is to always keep North on top, and the other option is to keep the current forward driving direction at the top. There's no one right view for everyone, each person may have their own preference.
There are various customizable settings and features, which I've used. I'll only cover the most important points about some of them; otherwise this review would turn out too long. Setting the Home location is very useful, so no matter how many addresses you enter, no matter how many routes you plan, you can always click that one button to navigate to your Home. That is the 'navigate to Home' button. This device also stores a list of your recent destinations, so you can easily find where you've travelled to recently, click on it and the device will calculate a route for you. Another useful function with destinations is you can add them to Favourites, which will store them all in one easy-to-find place. The speaker volume is easy to adjust onscreen, which is a straightforward volume slide-bar; sliding right to increase the volume, and left to decrease. There are plenty of settings and quick preferences, which can be used to customize the view, route methods and to change the picture of the car in 3D view.
The physical description of the device is an important feature, which is one of the things we look at when choosing any device with a display feature. In this case it's a four and a third inches wide touchscreen LCD screen with a resolution of four hundred and eighty by two hundred and seventy two pixels, and its colour depth is sixty four thousand. The total weight of the device is one hundred and eighty five grams, which is approximately the weight of a three quarters filled cup of water. The device has a Lithium Ion battery, which is built-in and rechargeable. It wouldn't be very practical to have a non-rechargeable battery in a device that requires constant recharging, so it's easy enough to understand why its battery is rechargeable. If you connect it to your Windows or Mac computer and find the device volume at two gigabytes; don't be alarmed, that's all it has. If you connect it to your Linux computer, you'll find the TomTom PC software doesn't work on Linux. TomTom is still in a backward mind-state, when it comes to Linux and other open-source operating systems and platforms. They are also behind in their USB technology, and are stuck at USB1.1 on this device.
=== When satnav says no ===
Satellite navigation sounds all good, but there can be problems. The most well-known shared problem of this technology is that it doesn't work so well in bad weather. During snow months, it's known to lose signal altogether. This is why the authorities recommend an emergency kit for the winter, which includes a paper-based road map. The device may not be suitable for someone who needs to look at it for long periods of time while driving, because they'll lose concentration of the road and may or may not wake up in hospital. If you're the sort of person who needs to take a good look at the speedometer while driving, instead of a simple quick glance; I'd advise you to avoid satnavs altogether. By taking this advice, you may be saving many lives.
Sometimes it's not the weather, nor the driver; satellite navigation can be dangerous if the maps aren't accurate, and the driver follows instructions unquestionably. The satnav may lead you into a no entry, or lead you into an industrial or development site, mistaking it for a road. In this situation, find a safe place to stop, and make sure to have a paper-based map at hand.
=== My Conclusion ===
The TomTom XL IQ Routes UK and Republic of Ireland edition is a useful satellite navigation system to have, although it may not be the best, or may not be anywhere near the best. It has a rich variety of software features, and is very easy to use. This helps to out-way the problems such as the useless updates, the free updates promise that's not kept, and the device requiring repair within only weeks of purchase. The technology of this device has become a bit too old to give it near four stars, and the experience with the company and device overall puts it down another star. Another star is lost due to its lacking support of open-source operating systems, while the lane guidance, physical features and customizability push it up an extra star.
I don't believe that this is a must have device, nor do I believe that satellite navigation is a must have technology for everyone. Sometimes the paper-based maps are good enough on their own, and sometimes we can use the paper-based maps as backup, in case the satnav is heading the wrong way, or taking a non-existent road.
=== To sum up ===
TomTom is a decent satnav with out-dated maps, but useful nonetheless. It's got customization settings, address list features and options for route planning, and the lane guidance feature is very useful. It's not suitable for everyone, but some people may find it very useful. Some people may find satnavs in general to be a distraction from the road ahead, they should avoid them. Physical features include a wide 4.3" LCD touchscreen, 480x272 display resolution with 64k colours, weighs 185g and has a 2GB storage volume capacity.
Summary: Decent customizable 4.3" LCD touchscreen satnav, updateable through Windows and Mac PC connection.