One XL GPS strong on usability, safety

One XL GPS strong on usability, safety

TomTom’s One XL is a larger screen version of its immediate predecessor, the One. The two devices are the global GPS leader’s first local releases, though the newer Go 720 is on its way.

The Go 720 has twice the RAM and a faster processor than the One XL, is slightly more slimline and features the more recent SiRF star III chipset for a faster, first-off GPS fix and acquisition of a signal in covered environments.

However, the OneXL (with its Global Locate Hammerhead receiver) is a trouble-free performer, latching promptly onto a signal on first and subsequent uses, then quickly calculating routes. When you try to throw it off course, the device re-calculates your path with ease.

The functionality of the bundled TomTom Home software sets it apart – it allows downloads of Quick GPS Fix, a free update that predicts satellite locations for seven days, so it will find its position faster when you next switch it on.

The software also lets you download the latest maps, while providing an interface that replicates the device’s screen and menu. This is especially handy for setting trip itineraries through your PC in advance.

Members of TomTom’s online community can share map and points of interest changes, while you can use the software to perform back-ups to your PC.

Although it lacks some of the entertainment extras found in competitors’ products, the OneXL is a good example of TomTom’s core strengths in usability and safety.

The 4.3-inch touch screen has a 480 x 272 pixel resolution and is easily read when mounted on the windscreen. The menu is logically ordered and easy to follow. There’s an introductory tour for first-time users.

There are navigation icons for your home address, favourites, recent destinations and points of interest. You can then find your destination by cities, street addresses, intersections or post codes.

Letter keys appear on the screen for typing street names and cities, although it takes the unit a while to register the one you’ve tapped. A handy feature is entering your preferred arrival time, with the One XL then telling you how early or late you’ll be.

Before you start your journey, you can view your route as a written list of turns, as images, on a map or as a route demo.

It’s strong safety-wise, with a Help Me option to tell you where the nearest police stations and doctors are. There are instructions for first aid if you have the misfortune to be in a motor accident.

Customisation is another strong point – there are 36 languages and 70 voices, with the voices even given names.

Additionally, there’s a collection of fun sound effects you can use as alerts when you’re near points of interest.

You can also select from many display preferences including night and day colour schemes, which points of interest to show on the screen, what the status bar displays and the trip planning method you prefer.

You can also set a four-digit security password while connected to the PC.

The device can also be setup for left-hand use.

Included in the box are the unit, the windscreen mount, the USB cable for charging and file transfer, a 12-volt in-car charger, an installation CD and documentation.

It’s a good-looking design in black and silver plastic and lightweight, though the curved back makes it a little bulky.

There’s only one button (for on and off), while the speaker and external antenna connections are located on the back. The underside houses the memory card slot (there’s 512MB of internal memory), USB and RDS-TMC (traffic information) connections, along with the reset pin.

Mounting the device to the windscreen bracket was fiddly, as you have to slide it in on an angle to avoid bumping the windscreen.

The extras it lacks include a camera, music player and text to speech; but there is Bluetooth and it quickly detected my phone. This enables the unit to use the phone’s web browser.

Although real-time traffic updates are not available here yet, as there is no third-party provider, the Plus Services can be used for weather information.

It has a recommended price of $599.

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