A few months ago, TomTom’s vice president for the region, Chris Kearney, told me the New Zealand market had been a tougher one to get into because Kiwis have this idea that they know everything about their country and so they don’t need gadgets telling them where to go.
Luckily for TomTom, that’s definitely not my case but, having used a fair share of in-car navigation units in the past few years, I’ve become a little harder to impress.
The last time I was positively impressed with a GPS unit was when I first used a TomTom with the HD Traffic service, which this new model includes as well. It’s no longer enough to take me from A to B, now it’s all about getting there in the fastest and most efficient way.
The 2050, being top of the Go Live range, proved to do exactly that, even in some remote areas of the country where unpaved roads meet other unpaved roads before reaching proper driving surfaces.
In general, you can trust the information the device is giving you – it updates every two minutes, after all. But don’t think it means you can ignore road signs. There were a couple of discrepancies regarding maximum speed limits in certain areas so, even if you set your TomTom to warn you that you’re going over the speed limit, bear in mind it might not know exactly what the speed limit is supposed to be. I found this happened mostly out in the backcountry, and the information is much more accurate in the city. The live traffic updates proved accurate and, while driving home in rush hour, very helpful. It didn’t know about a fixed speed camera near my house but I reported it with a couple of touches on the screen (you’re all welcome).
The five-inch fluid screen is a nice upgrade from previous models and the ability to zoom in and out of maps quickly and with no major hiccups also proved very useful. The unit also comes with voice controls, with a wide range of pre-programmed actions. The feature works rather well, especially if you consider that it had to deal with my foreign accent. I did have to repeat myself a couple of times but it was still better than having to type long street names on the screen. Couple this feature with the hands-free capability and you’ve got a safer-than-most GPS device.
If you’re familiar with the TomTom user interface, you probably won’t find many differences in this new model. The most useful change is a hardware one. TomTom is clearly following the trend towards less fiddly connectors. The unit connects to the dock magnetically, making it a lot easier to mount and dismount the GPS. Additionally, the power plug is located on the bottom of the dock, as opposed to previous models where the cable had to be plugged in on the back in some hard-to-reach spot, not always suited for those with big fingers. The cable also plugs into both the unit and the dock magnetically, so you can unplug the GPS and leave the cable there or easily connect the cable to the unit already in the mount.
Perhaps the next thing for TomTom to focus on should be battery life. The battery took a full five hours to charge and slightly less to run flat again. You really don’t want to forget that power cable at home if you’re out on more than a work commute.
In spite of those minor issues, the unit does exactly what it is supposed to do. If you don’t currently own an in-car GPS, this is the device for you. It is also definitely worth buying for the HD Traffic service, if you’re not upgrading from a previous TomTom model that already has that functionality. The subscription for this service is free for the first year and will cost you AU$69 for each following year. It includes live traffic information for both New Zealand and Australia, so pack your GPS if you’re travelling across the ditch.
The GO LIVE 2050 has an RRP of $499 including GST for the version with NZ and Australian maps and an RRP of $649 including GST for the version with world maps.
TomTom is distributed in New Zealand by Ingram Micro.
This review appeared in the February issue of New Zealand PC World.