TomTom Start 20 review: In-Car GPS Navigation System
Increasing number of Indian car owners are looking to equip their cars with a highly functional GPS device, otherwise known as a Portable Navigation Device (PND), that does not demand a reliable data network throughout the course and a recurring running cost. While car-pooling college gangs and ever-youthful gadget gurus didn’t seem to find using smartphones for navigation as a burden, it was high time India welcomed some in-car navigation system makers. TomTom is one among them, Amsterdam based Navigation Systems leader in Europe.
Let’s see what TomTom’s entry model “Start 20″ has to offer the Indian customers: The Start 20 features a 4.3 inch (11cm) matte finish 16:9 Widescreen (480 x 272) LCD display overlapped by a resistive touch screen that disregards the need for physical buttons for operation. It provides turn-by-turn voice guidance in 14 Indian Languages across 7200+ cities & towns.
The light-weight gadget is capable of being mounted on the dashboard with a double-sided adhesive pad (included in the kit) or be conventionally gecko-d to the windshield with the suction padded swivel leg on the back of the header unit. The kit also includes a car charging kit (typical 12V to 5V USB adapter and a Micro-USB cable) to keep the navigator up and running throughout the journey.
Of course the PND is preloaded with Indian map and does not depend on any sort of data connection except for the 24 Global Positioning Satellites that orbit the earth. The TomTom Start 20, much like any other GPS receiver, is programmed to stay connected with at least 4 satellites throughout its operating time. That being said, connectivity was indeed witnessed to be impeccable on the road. Worst case scenario, if the GPS signal is lost, the device maps the route from your last known location.
Despite being an entry level product in the brand, it has good build quality, modest battery life, decent rear-set mono speaker (for voice guidance) and an array of functional features like 2D/3D driving views, Multi-Destination Routing, Split Screen Highway Lane Assist, Real-time Vehicle Speed, ETA, Smart Detour, Speeding Alert and Points of Interest in 69 categories such as Petrol Bunks and Hospitals.
The operating system feels intuitive and interactive. While setting the destination, it can find alternative routes, lets you add checkpoints (incase you need to refuel on the way) and helps you avoid a part of the route (incase you called-in sick at your office and can’t afford to be spotted in the vicinity). It allows for frequent destinations to be saved in the device and categorize them to avoid a clutter.
And if you are not able to find your destination, or a road, TomTom has come-up with a solution to that as well, by form of a community that will allow you to apply changes/updates to the existing map. Map changes through Map Share community includes dynamic changes like new speed limits and blocked roads. Map Share helps one deal with the more frequent road changes, avoid detours and get to your destination even faster.
This enables TomTom Navigation System users to manually correct errors in the map and share it across rest of the devices in the family through a free daily map change by use of a PC with internet connection.
Apart from this, TomTom’s all devices by default comes with Free lifetime maps which means the users don’t need to pay to upgrade the maps. Users can update these maps for free 4 times a year by connecting their device with a PC with internet connection.
The Start 20 navigator might possess a number of attractive attributes, but the average indian drivers may present a narrow smile and look for something that doesn’t cost them as much as Rs. 9,499 (MRP).
Verdict: Although it is arguable that smartphones are better for navigation in their own way, a dedicated in-car GPS System like the TomTom Start 20 is indeed amicable.