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back to article TomTom Start

TomTom's Start is essentially the satnav specialist's new low-end model. Rather than say so, though, it's not pitching the product on price but for its simplicity. It's a device designed to get you from A to B and nothing more. TomTom Start TomTom's Start: cuts to the chase with a simple, straightforward UI But it's also …

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Gawd/ess ...

The wife & I have AAA+ ... if anything breaks, we get towed home regardless of whose fault it is. Regardless of where we are in the USofA. It's cheap, we have never used the "tow" option, but the knowledge that it's there is a bit of comfort on long road trips (we have been in every state West of the Mississippi in the last six months).

And we get free maps. You know, those paper thingies that the clueless can't re-fold?

Oh, never mind ... I've answered my own question. Satnav systems are for people too clueless to re-fold maps ... or maybe BMW drivers who mindlessly follow the computer up dirt tracks in Yorkshire ...

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A lA ot of the problems people have with sat nav

Is they use them for things like going to the shops etc and then bitch they could get there easier without it . A satnav will never out navigate local knowledge of an area . If however your driving in an unfamiliar part of town or going places you have never been then the satnav will win every time . I use satnav to get to gigs at places I have never been to and its a lifesaver . Go anywhere the wifes been and its bloody murder .

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Title

Have they been sniffing around 4Chan for idle screen inspiration?

Plan Route

Browse Map

DANCE HARD TECHNO

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WTF?

Help icon

I'm wondering how a small man in a suitcase relates to help. Frankly, I'm quite baffled.

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FAIL

A Bad Start

"the satnav designed for people who still think they prefer reading maps"

You could say this was a bad start because it reads as if TomTom want to tell you how to think, but I think it's a bad start because it indicates that TomTom (or at least their marketing department) if you prefer something then that's down to you. It's a personal thing. A preference is so is not something you think you know, it's something you know. You cannot think you prefer, say, Snow Patrol to Girls Aloud and be wrongm, you know what you prefer.

Anyway I tried TomTom for a few months and their mapping is shite and it appears to be in beta. Yes really. The number of mapping inaccuracies within a couple of miles of my home was huge. Fans of Tom Tom tell me that this is fine because you can correct the map and upload it to Tom Tom. What? So I pay Tom Tom for a map and then have to correct it for them? Beta tests are usually free, people. Furthermore when you are driving somewhere you've never been before and TomTom tells you to take an impossible route (up a private driveway being a classic) you're not going to be in a position correct the map. You're suddenly driving with no idea where you're going. Reaching out to your satnav to start correcting the map would be dangerous and illegal. Of course by the time you reach your destination you'll probably won't want to start correcting the map. And why, indeed, should you. Most people would understand if you chose to take your Tom Tom back to the shop and insert it in the salesman.

Now if this version doesn't have that functionality a novice user will really be in trouble, because their maps won't get updated by all those users who can be bothered to correct the mapping errors.

The really annoying thing is the errors I noted in my Tom Tom were not present in any paper maps I could find.

Yes I own a sat nav (not Tom Tom now), but I use it very rarely. Normally I rely on looking at a map before I set off and then remember where I'm going. For the more complicated bits I prefer to rely on directions given by somebody who knows where I should go. It's the complicated bits where sat nav tends to give up anyway. So in general a sat nav gives you nothing you can't get from being able to read a map and remember instructions. If you can't do that you shouldn't be driving a car. I've always believed that simple route planning and memory should be part of the driving test. At the test centre you should have to plan a route and then follow that route without taking any instructions along.

And why is it that when I see a driver do something truly stupid I'll invariably see a sat nav on their windscreen?

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WTF?

@ Jake

OK then clever clogs, tell me how much extra time I should allow when I'm travelling to see a client in a city I'm unfamiliar with. Obviously taking into account maps (folded or otherwise), A-Zs and generally getting held up by the inevitable nutcase you stop and ask directions off? Unfortunately I'm trying to navigate to exact addresses in eg the middle of Birmingham or Manchester, not meandering through the the good old US of A. And as far as I'm aware the Automobile Association Of America don't cover Wolverhampton.

I don't drive a BMW either.

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@Richard 116

"OK then clever clogs, tell me how much extra time I should allow when I'm travelling to see a client in a city I'm unfamiliar with."

Oh, I don't know ... maybe ask the client, who is presumably familiar with traffic patterns in the area? But that is too obvious ...

"Obviously taking into account maps (folded or otherwise), A-Zs and generally getting held up by the inevitable nutcase you stop and ask directions off?"

Maps will get you there, if you understand how to use maps. Why stop and ask J. Random Stranger for directions, when you already have a "friendly face" in the vicinity? (The friendly would be your client, if you have not been reading for comprehension.)

"Unfortunately I'm trying to navigate to exact addresses in eg the middle of Birmingham or Manchester, not meandering through the the good old US of A."

I had no problem going to exact addresses, on time, in Manchester or Birmingham (or Leeds, or York, or London, or Edinburgh, or ...) when I was scooting around your island on my 250 Super Dream back in the late '70s and early '80s ... Judging by my last visit, things haven't changed all that much in ~40 years. If you are having issues with navigation, take a class. Here in the US it can be more difficult ... Imagine, if you will, a freeway in the middle of the desert, with hundreds of unmarked dirt-road driveways leading off of it, perhaps averaging a quarter mile apart. Or a long, narrow, winding mountain road, with similar unmarked driveways. Somehow, we manage.

"And as far as I'm aware the Automobile Association Of America don't cover Wolverhampton."

Maps are maps. Purchase a few, learn to use them. You might like it.

"I don't drive a BMW either."

You seem to almost be qualified ...

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New one might be going back

I recently bought a tomtom go 750 which is the 2nd to the top of the new range. It appears that the map data can't encode the concept of "local traffic only" and it has a bad habit of preferring right turns over left turns which isn't so good if drive on the left. I bought a traffic receiver but its not supported by the 750 according to their technical support but its still listed on the web site and the software even offers instructions for plugging it in. Many of the extra add on "hacks" don't work with the newest software either which was another reason I bought the tomtom. The menu structure seems to be faster unless you make a mistake since they left out a lot of the "back" buttons. The thing has a itinerary planning feature but it is very hard to use and its not clear how to skip points. It would be nice to have times associated with events to let it figure out which order make the more sense but it can't cope with that. The reading of names is also very bad since it reads "State Route 23" as "S T E T twenty three". The 750 voice control is absolutely useless as seems to want you to speak with the same accent as the computer voice you select.

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Anonymous Coward

Invaluable

I use my TomTom a lot. I've just used it to drive home through central London.

To plan the route by map and follow it, using a piece of paper stuck to the dashboard with route instructions written would have been extremely difficult, close to impossible.

Even with the TomTom the journey was difficult, with obstructions to avoid, lanes constantly changing from one to two and back again, bus lanes appearing, dissappearing, traffic lights all over the place, road lane markings dissappearing. Work load is high.

The TomTom I find is invaluable. Yes, I have noticed a few minor errors in the maps, but keep your wits about you, ( my first experience with it, it took me down the wrong way down a one way street), so don't through your 'observation' out the window, you still need to look where you're going and read the road signs.

No doubt in my mind, it makes things an awful lot easier. I can just drive around from village to village without really caring where I'm going, look for some sights and then tell the TomTom to take me home.

En-route I missed a speed limit sign, and with speed cameras literally all over the place in London this is not good...one quick glance over to the TomTom, ah, 30mph along this section...

It's a great product.

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@RotaCyclic

"En-route I missed a speed limit sign, and with speed cameras literally all over the place in London this is not good...one quick glance over to the TomTom, ah, 30mph along this section..."

If you had being paying attention to actually driving, instead of playing with your toys, you would have probably spotted the speed limit sign.

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@jake

I've seen reps driving with maps across the steering wheel. Not in the past few years, but I've seen it. Satnav stopped that. When you have no passenger to map read, and a deadline to meet, you don't use a map. You use satnav. It's more *safe* and also more convenient.

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Re: @RotaCyclic

Worse than that. If you're in Britain, you're in a built-up area and you can't see a speed limit sign, it's 30.

It's only the rest of Europe where they expect you to look out of the bloody window and only flag deviantions from the default limits twice, once at the start of the new limit and once at the end.

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hmmmm

@ jake.

remember plenty of us live in countries not entirely consisting of straight roads and blocks. of course the US dont need satnavs, the country was designed for long straight roads and you designed a block system to not confuse the so easily confused locals (remember, the US is the country where cruise control needed expanding in the manual to show users that it doesnt in fact DRIVE the car, lol). in little old england with our country roads its a nightmare to read a map whilst finding somewhere. i needed to borrow the mrs' satnav at the weekend to find a mate's house that was in the middle of nowhere, it would have been a nightmare to find with no satnav 2 pages of instructions via google maps for a distance of 65 miles! its not just head on 'i50 for 100 miles and turn off' in this country. europe is OLD, and many roads were designed for horses, they arent all 3 lanes wide like in the US!

@ beta testa are usually free comment. i take it you havent used M$ software before or played any modern games. they are all released in beta, or it feels like anyway! :(

@ jake (again) "Imagine, if you will, a freeway in the middle of the desert, with hundreds of unmarked dirt-road driveways leading off of it, perhaps averaging a quarter mile apart. Or a long, narrow, winding mountain road, with similar unmarked driveways. Somehow, we manage."

- is that why the majority of USians have never even left their home state? and let me tell you - englands roads are massively different to the 70s and 80s, there are double the amount of cars now - arghhhhhhhh. also, the middle of manchester and birmingham are easy to find. try getting to a place that isnt even on a normal map (like where i was at weekend), they change their street name every 5 years so they dont have to pay council tax... clever buggers lol

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Why satnav against maps?

Nothing beats the convenience of a satnav. Definitely no map or asking strangers. (and to ask my client for driving directions is extremely unprofessional)

That said at home I also use maps to plan my next journeys... but in the car: satnav is go....

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@ Jake @ Richard116

"Why not ask the client for driving directions?"

Choose your option:

[1] Because it makes a stupid impression?

[1b] Because things get really awkward if the client doesn't know and feels put into place?

[2] Because the client doesn't necessarily know the route, from your last client to him?

[2a] Because the client has the same chance of knowing the route from you to him as you have?

[3] Because even if they know a route, they're not necessarily good at explaining it?

[3b] See 1b?

[4] Because there's more travelling to be done than just to clients in this world?

The simple reality is that route planners are just far less of a necessity in the USA than in the old world. The reasons are tedious and obvious (millenia old road networks that have been half-redone half-worked around for centuries, versus those designed with horse-and-buggy in mind, plenty of space mostly versus filling in little crags, etc) and there is no grid pattern in the typical european city centre nor on the larger scale is there the regular North/South+E/W road pattern the US has.

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Anonymous Coward

Why ask the client?

You shouldn't need to ask anybody if you've got a brain. Use a map; OS, A to Z, google, multimap, whatever, before you set off and remember the route. I find that much more reliable than asking for directions since most people you ask will know the route so well that they will miss things out.

So many sat nav devices have mapping problems that you'd be foolish to rely on them without actually doing some research on the route first hand. And you'd certainly want to carry a map book.

When is comes to the shortcomings of satnav take a look at 53.253479deg N 4.43169deg W. My TomTom was convinced you could head on accross the A55 at this very obvious dead end. Furthermore where the "road" continues on the other side of the A55 it's just a dirt track. This actually happened to me on a two mile journey between two addresses about 160 miles from base which is where you'd expect sat nav to be most useful because you have no local knowledge.

This highlights two problems with sat nav mapping. Firstly it sees a road dead end next to another road and thinks it's a junction. Secondly, and perhaps more importanty, an awful lot of sat navs don't seem to differentiate between a minor road and a byway, footpath, bridleway or cyclepath. Many sat navs suffer from this latter issue right outside my house. Now admittedly this sort of thing doesn't tend to come up on long journeys, because the sat nave will rightly prefer motorways and A roads. Delivery drivers and service engineers and the like may have several calls in one area where the whole journey will take place on minor roads and this is where sat nav falls appart. And it's probably where it should be the most useful. And although the example I've given is in a rural area there

The example I've given was in a rural area, but similar things happen all the time in cities. Many sat navs will try to direct drivers through a pedestrian presinct to find our office. Credit to Tom Tom, they actually find our car park.

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@various

First of all, I'm based in Northern California. Pull up your favorite online map of the area. Our roads are hardly based on anything resembling a grid system (inner cities & the Central Valley being exceptions to the rule).

Secondly, I've traveled to England four times in the last three years. I have borrowed cars and motorbikes from various friends on each trip. I haven't had issues getting to where I needed to go using plain old maps.

Thirdly, no, I don't need to have the map open and in front of me while I drive. It's not exactly difficult to memorize a route. (Do I detect a hint of the Nintendo/MTV Generation's "If it's not constantly changing, I'm not interested in it" here?)

I wondered: "Why not ask the client for driving directions?"

Several opined variations on: "Choose your option:"

Ok.

"[1] Because it makes a stupid impression?"

Why. Do you honestly think "I haven't been there recently, how long should I plan on it taking from when the freeway enters your town to when I arrive at your office at that time of day" makes you sound stupid? To me it's an intelligent question.

"[1b] Because things get really awkward if the client doesn't know and feels put into place?"

In that case, the correct answer is "I don't know ... Let's find out!", and then both parties relax the rules on scheduling a little. Works for me :-)

"[2] Because the client doesn't necessarily know the route, from your last client to him?"

If you are using maps, you know the general route you are taking ... and you will know when you will reach a built-up area, where guestimation is pointless without local knowledge. I'm not suggesting asking about the route from Leeds to London, I'm talking about asking for local info once in London (which I don't need, BTW, despite being a Yank).

"[2a] Because the client has the same chance of knowing the route from you to him as you have?"

Meaningless. I can easily get between two built-up areas using maps. This has been true on six contenents, over 40+ years (I hope to get to Antarctica eventually). My clients have, over the years, ALWAYS been aware of local traffic patterns (with a couple exceptions, see below) ... and more than happy to assist me in traversing their area. Remember, it doesn't just save ME time, it also saves THEIRS.

"[3] Because even if they know a route, they're not necessarily good at explaining it?"

'whole 'nuther kettle of worms. Has happened occasionally. Always with Doctors and Lawyers. By personal preference, I no longer work for Doctors and Lawyers. Problem solved.

"[3b] See 1b?"

See my answer to 3.

"[4] Because there's more travelling to be done than just to clients in this world?"

If you are not on a schedule, relax. Get lost! Enjoy it! Stop and have a cuppa (or a swift half) while figuring out where you are with respect to your intended destination. The destination will still be there when you get there ... and if you do get lost, you'll have been lucky enough to see more of this dampish rock than most people do!

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