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By Johan Keyter 22 July 2010

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The GPS is in SA is undergoing a fundamental change with the introduction of live traffic updates in TomTom and Garmin products. The TomTom Go 750 Live, now featuring the full list of amazing features such as Google Search, real-time traffic updates and even weather reports, is at the forefront of this revolution. We took the Go 750 Live for a test drive.

Live traffic updates

Undoubtedly the greatest features on the device is the newly introduced live traffic updates which gives drivers colour-coded traffic advice and helps you choose the fastest, least congested roads. TomTom is the first to introduce a traffic monitoring feature to its devices in South Africa, and we really found it to be a useful addition.

A bar now appears on the right side of the display, and by simply giving this bar a nudge you’ll be taken to the Live traffic menu. From here you can choose to optimise your route or check out the surrounding area for traffic jams. If there’s a delay on the route the system will give you an estimated delay time, so you can see if you’re going to be a tad late or should rather just turn back and cancel your meeting.

This service works thanks to a deal between TomTom, Tracker and TrafficNet. More than 100 000 tracker enabled vehicles can be monitored via the company’s SkyTrax tracking solution. Combine this with information received by TrafficNet, traffic news provider to several major radio stations, ensures accurate and up-to-date traffic information.

More GPRS features

Where the Go 750 Live stands out from other GPS devices is in its extensive features list. This device has so many different functions we’re not sure if it can even be classified as a GPS anymore.

A very useful technology, also newly introduced in South Africa is IQ Routes. This feature does its work under the skin, but it’s no less useful. Utilising TomTom’s GPRS connectivity via SIM card, IQ Routes uses data gathered by thousands of users to calculate your quickest route, taking into account everything from rush hour traffic to traffic lights to zebra crossings and even shopping crowds to get you to your destination on time.

Probably our favourite feature in the Go 750 Live was the Google Local Search functionality. Using built-in GPRS, the TomTom can connect with Google servers allowing drivers to search on the go. We tested this feature and it worked really well, typing in ‘dentist’ for example and telling the GPS to search for results close-by immediately brings up a myriad of different choices, with distance, time and traffic on route included.

Even relatively obscure searches, such as typing in “anime”, proved no problem for the TomTom’s Google Search, leading us to the nearest comic shop. There is also a live 5-day weather forecast, which tells drivers what kind of weather to expect at their destination.

Safety alerts, which shows the location of speed cameras along your route now also shows accident ‘blackspots’ to help drivers avoid these areas. If you’re unsure what a ‘blackspot’ is, just imagine a 16-wheeler flipping sideways on the N1 and you have the basic idea.

Even more features

The ‘Help me’ emergency menu aids drivers in trouble by displaying local emergency services information. It also helps users find assistance by phone, car or on foot and offers a selection of illustrated guides, such as the first aid guide, to really help in an emergency.

The advanced lane guidance feature makes highway driving much less stressful, clearly showing which junctions to take so you don’t miss your turn-off by accident. We found this feature to be extremely useful, especially when dealing with the more complicated junctions. This useful service is also available on the new Navigon 3300 max.

The Go 750 Live will also stroke your environmental ego by giving drivers the choice of going the ‘eco’ route. This means the device will pick the most fuel efficient route to the destination. This is quite a nice feature to include, but in reality the ‘eco’ route will probably be the one you’re already travelling on since the GPS automatically choose the shortest route in any case.

Like its predecessors, the Go 750 Live retains the ‘Map Share’ feature. This allows users to take advantages of updated maps and also submit corrections of their own. With the frequency our roads are changing nowadays this feature is absolutely essential, lest you find yourself driving up a one-way.

Voice command and control

A very innovative feature on the Go 750 Live is Bluetooth calling and voice control. Able to commit up to 150 commands (such as ‘Home’, ‘Work’ and individual letters to spell out addresses) to the device’s memory, you’ll be telling your GPS where to go in no time.

Just remember to set up the voice commands before getting in the car, as it may take some time. An onscreen monitor helps you find the correct level for your voice to best be heard by the device.  After completing the voice command section users can simply press the mic icon and proceed to telling their TomTom where they want to go.

Hands-free calling enables your device to serve as a car-kit for your mobile phone, simply pair the device with your mobile to be able to make calls on the go.

Look and feel

While it may not be the most slender GPS around, measuring in at 127 x 24.3 x 85mm, the TomTom 750 Go feels sturdy and is manufactured from high quality plastic.

The mounting device is also very easy to use, and unlike some previous TomTom products the holder is very secure. The dock also charges the device and has its own connector so the GPS can be easily removed when parked and inserted again, ready to charge once you continue on your journey.

A 4.3”, 480 x 272 resolution anti-glare display provides clear viewing pleasure in day or night driving conditions.

User interface

The TomTom user interface has been updated, giving a fresh look to the dashboard panel and route overview screens. Map graphics have also been improved and IQ Routes info has been added to the traffic bar on the right of the display.

The QuickGPSfix feature also speeds up the time it takes your GPS to fix to a satellite, something that has been a bit of a headache in previous devices.

Conclusion

Some issues we experienced were that route recalculation was a bit slow at times, with the device seeming to favour the u-turn option, instead of giving drivers alternative instructions.

Apart from that tiny headache the TomTom Go 750 Live performed without fault and proves that GPS devices can do more than just show you where to go.

We found this GPS to be a wonderful travelling and everyday traffic companion, capable of seriously reducing your day-to-day commuting time.

These amazing Live services are available free of charge for a year, after which users need to pay an annual fee of R499. The TomTom Go 750 Live retails at R2999.

PROS
HD traffic updates, Google searching, weather updates, IQ Routes, the device features a large list of impressive and useful features.
CONS
The bulky size may not be what some users are looking for while yearly subscription fees may put a damper on things.
USER COMMENTS

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