Reviewed by Louise Totton
With all of the travelling that most of us do over Christmas visiting friends and family across the country, getting there as quickly and free of frustration as possible is pretty high on my list of aims every December. I, like most people these days, rely on a sat nav to get me there without getting (too) lost and to help me avoid some of the main traffic jams that inevitably hit the M62 on an almost daily basis. I haven’t had a standalone sat nav system for years, probably a decade. I have been relying on Google Maps on my large-screen mobile phone for the past few years, having completely lost my patience with the various clunky sat nav systems that have been built into my last few cars. And this has been working really well, except for the fact that the kids have now got to an age where they want to use the phone to pick tracks on Spotify to stream through the car speakers or send texts, none of which they can do whilst the phone is in the cradle holder being used as a sat nav.
Even with the large screen on my Samsung Note 9 phone, seeing some of the detail on Google Maps, particularly at complicated roundabouts or motorway junctions isn’t easy, especially as it uses a portrait layout. I have been considering a move to a proper, standalone sat nav system for a while now, and making the move just before Christmas when I know we’ll be on the road a lot seemed to be just the right time. I’m also starting a new job in January which will require me to be on the road a lot so I wanted to be fully practiced and confident with it before my journeys were really time-critical! So when we were given the opportunity to try out TomTom’s most advanced sat nav system to date, we jumped at the chance!
The TomTom GO Premium Sat Nav system is available with either a 5” or a 6” screen. We were sent the 6” version to try out. I have to say that based on my memory of previous sat nav systems, I was surprised at just how large the screen on the TomTom was when I took it out of the box. Yes, I know that it is described as being a 6” screen, but that somehow didn’t compute in my mind that we would basically be receiving something the size of a small tablet! Having said that, in spite of the massive screen, the unit felt incredibly light and it is also very slim. From years gone by, I remember just how chunky some sat navs were, but this one has a lovely, slim profile. Contained in the box was:
- TomTom GO Premium 6 device
- Magnetic suction mount
- Charging cable
- 12v attachment, should your car not have a USB charging point
Setting up the sat nav was really very easy, made even easier by the large and clear screen! It is pretty much ready to go straight out of the box, although you might want to install the updates before you really get going on a serious journey. We needed to do around 10GB of updates on ours which took about an hour but for the majority of this time, you just leave it to it!
I was surprised just how far standalone sat navs have come since I last owned one! With using Google Maps for navigation on my phone, I have got used to having instant traffic updates and automatic rerouting based on live traffic information. TomTom devices didn’t offer this the last time I had one, so I was delighted to see that this is now included as standard with the Premium systems. Also included is lifetime map updates as well as lifetime speed camera and lifetime traffic update services, so there are no additional charges for these services now or in the future.
The Premium GO 6 also has WiFi connectivity so you can update your sat nav without having to own a PC or laptop. I think this is a great feature, as more and more households have tablet style devices rather than fully working laptops and this can present a problem when you need to update gadgets via a USB laptop connection. We did complete our update via the laptop, as I wanted to connect the sat nav to the laptop to look at the My Drive app, but it’s great to have the WiFi functionality there should you want to update whilst you’re not near the laptop.
The device uses a fantastic magnetic mounting system to attach the windscreen of the car, and having now used it, I’m baffled as to why more manufacturers don’t implement something similar! The suction end attaches to the car’s windscreen like you would expect, although it somehow feels far more securely anchored than the one I was using for my phone did! A ball joint then connects the part of the mount that holds the sat nav, meaning it is infinitely adjustable and getting the perfect angle is really easy. Finally, at the end of the ball joint sits the magnetic mount that the sat nav sits on, and it grabs hold of the device so easily and securely, without you having to be a contortionist to see that the connections are properly connected. These magnetic connections also conduct the power, so when you do want to unmount it, all you need to do is pull it off the mount – no need to fiddle with wires or cables.
Actually using the Premium GO to navigate where you want to go is a complete breeze, and having the massive 6” screen absolutely makes using it to see directions and tricky junctions so much easier than if you were relying on verbal instructions only. You can search for your destination either by typing in the postcode, or even by starting typing in the address – so typing 57 My Street will bring up a list of matches and you can then choose the right one. You can also search for points of interest, for example, Alton Towers or Tesco Luton and it will find it for you. Given as so many of us have voice assistants in the house, it should be no great surprise that this device also supports voice operation. The default wake word of Hello TomTom will allow you to search for an address, cancel your route, go home, go to a carpark or ask when you’ll get to your destination or add a fuel station to your itinerary. You can’t search by postcode or ask it to find a supermarket just yet with the voice search but I’m hopeful that these will be added as time goes on and the search gets more accurate.
If you choose to download the MyDrive app to your mobile phone, you can also set your complete journey into your phone from the comfort of your armchair before you set off, and it will upload to the sat nav device once you’re in the car. This can save time and stress when you’re really pushed for time as you can even set the route the night before a busy morning, and it’s all ready for you once it’s time to leave!
I can’t overstate enough just how much difference the large, landscape screen makes to using the sat nav. It’s just on a whole other level to using even a very large phone for navigation. The directions that the device gives are incredibly clear, both visually and verbally. If you choose either Malcolm or Serena as your voice, as well as giving directions, they will also read aloud street names, which makes navigating smaller roads and estates so much easier when turnings are so close together. I have found the route accuracy to be fantastic, and the routes do change according to traffic conditions and incidents which can save literally hours sometimes.
The GO Premium also supports IFTTT (If This Then That) functionality, so it is a truly smart device. You can set your TomTom to trigger events, such as opening your smart connected garage door when you are 100ft from home, sending a text to your partner to pop the kettle on when you’re 5 minutes away or turning the lights off when after you’ve left home. At the moment, this is just good fun, but as our homes get more and more connected and the IOT (Internet of Things) becomes bigger, functionality like this will become more a part of our daily lives and this device really is future-proof in that respect.
This device is a massive upgrade to using the phone as a sat nav: the screen is larger and clearer, the directions are better and there are more functions than Google Maps will ever give you. On top of this, it frees your phone up so the kids can use is as a music player should you be stuck in unavoidable traffic or you can just leave your phone alone completely and preserve the battery! It’s not cheap, but no truly premium device ever is, and this really is a premium device. If you have the budget, it would make a fantastic Christmas present for someone who spends a lot of their time on the road and you need not worry that you’d be tying them into a subscription service for traffic or safety camera updates. It will last an awful long time because of both the outstanding build quality and because it has so much tech built into it, it is a truly future-proof device.
RRP: £299.99 (5″ Screen) / £339.99 (6″ Screen)
For more information or to buy, visit www.tomtom.com.