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TomTom Navigator 3 Review 01st April 2004

TomTom NavigatorReview by Dave Burrows

 

TomTom Navigator 3 was announced officially at CeBit on 18th March 2004 and has recently started shipping in bundle form. Free and discounted upgrades will be available from TomTom's website in April. TomTom have had a busy year in 2003-2004, releasing a Palm version of TomTom Navigator, announcing the release of TomTom Go (dedicated in-car) and now TomTom Navigator 3 with Traffic Update Support.

 

Although this is what's considered an major release (as it's an annual one), don't expect too much that's new in TomTom Navigator 3.

 

What's New

  • Modern Icons
  • Trip Summary
  • Updated Maps
  • Major Roads of Europe (MRE)
  • UK Postcode Support
  • Itinerary Planner
  • Traffic Support

Trip SummaryTrip Summary

Trip Summary is a new feature for TomTom Navigator 3. When you have planned your trip and have a GPS connection you can see a complete trip so it's easy to see if you are going to the correct location in the country.

 

Trip Summary can be of great help, especially because the TeleAtlas data supplied to TomTom isn't overly great and entering what you think is the town you want to drive to, often can take you to another town, city, suburb, county which can easily be a good couple of hundred miles out of your way and sometimes in the opposite direction.

 

This is where the Trip Summary can come in to help you, you will not only see your start and finish locations, but you will also see your current position and the destination details at the top of the screen followed by how long the journey will take and how many miles.

 

Modern Icons

TomTom have updated the icons in the Navigator screen to look more appealing and have a better 3D look with greater colour. You don't have to go with these, and you can turn this off both at install and also later in the Advanced Properties screen.

 

Navigator Screen   Navigator Screen   Navigator Screen

 

Navigator Screen   Navigator Screen   Navigator Screen

 

New RoadUpdated Maps

TomTom have said that the TeleAtlas maps supplied were updated to the TeleAtlas release of October 2003. We can also confirm that over a dozen new and modified roads we have checked; that were completed by April 2003 are included. POI's have also been updated.

 

To the right is a new junction which was created in April 2003, so this goes to verify the maps as being updated to at least April 2003.

 

One thing to bear in mind is that although maps are dated October 2003, it doesn't necessarily mean all roads built prior to October 2003 will be on here. Map updates from geodata providers like TeleAtlas (in TomTom's case) can take anything up to 18 months to appear in their data. The main reason for this is NAVTEQ and TeleAtlas not only use other companies data like Ordnance Survey, but also drive the roads themselves when they receive notification of new roads and survey the data.

 

One thing that many UK users will not be happy about is the M6 toll road isn't supported. Unfortunately this is the same whether you use NAVTEQ or TeleAtlas, so you can't really blame this on GPS companies like TomTom, but it does mean that because NAVTEQ and TeleAtlas do not support it in their current maps, driving the M6 Toll road (or avoiding it) may be a little tricky! It's worth noting that Ordnance Survey do show the M6 toll road in their 2003 maps under Memory-Map as a dotted/dashed blue line, so it really is unforgivable that NAVTEQ and TeleAtlas have missed this. Let's hope it's in the next major map update! When we quizzed TomTom about this at CeBit, TomTom didn't believe this would pose a major problem to UK users, however we did express our concern in that it would.

 

Major Roads of Europe (MRE)

Major Roads of Europe is a new feature in TomTom Navigator 3 that many GPS companies are adopting. It allows you to route across Europe without having to have maps for every country. If you're traveling from France to Spain, then you really only want to have Major Road support in most cases, so MRE is a benefit to most people who travel across country borders and need to be routed and not have to constantly change maps or have a bottomless storage card! This currently is the only way that TomTom users will be able to navigate across country borders without having to change maps and plot a new route from border to border. It's a good feature and one I think many European users will find welcome!

 

Map Install  Major Roads of Europe

 

Postcode support

TomTom Navigator 2 was pretty good, it had it's flaws, especially for UK users with the loss of Postcode support which was announced for it's release in March 2003. TomTom Navigator 3 addresses this issue a year on (March 2004) by adding support for 5 digit UK postcodes, that's "SO33 4" for you and I. The postcodes work well, but because UK postcodes are usually 7 digits, you still have to enter a road name to pinpoint you, and even then it won't take you to a house number. The house number field is present but searching for house numbers in many roads we tried came up with nothing. Postcodes in Europe work differently than UK ones, most of Europe contain numerical postcodes where as the UK has alpha/numerics which in the past did cause problems but TomTom have this fixed in Navigator 3. There are a number of postcode add-ons for TomTom Navigator 2 and 3 that will give you greater support and all the way up to 7 digits, so check the PocketGPSWorld.com forums for more info and these are free!

 

Itinerary Planner

The Itinerary Planner now lets you perform multiple stop journeys in the order that you choose. This is something that GPS Assist did well under TomTom Navigator 1. Now TomTom have added support using the Itinerary Planner. You can move each journey stop up or down the list and if you wanted to you could plan a trip from Cornwall to Scotland and back to London and the Itinerary Planner would select the best route for each leg of the journey. There is no optimisation to this process so if the first stop is further away than the second stop then you will drive in this order unless you manually move the items up the list.

 

Trip Summary  Itinerary

 

This can also work well for most people because you can save the route for later, which means if you travel frequently on a daily basis between home and office, then you could use the Itinerary Planner for this also.

 

Under the Advanced options tab you can also enable or disable Multiple Destinations, Show numbers in front of stops and Sound: Using stopovers.

 

Navigation

One of TomTom's specialties is how it operates in allowing you to choose so many different navigation options. When driving a route TomTom allows you at a touch of the screen to select the original route, an alternative route, avoid a road block, and avoid any of the roads you will be driving on shortly (including the current road). These features help make driving around traffic jams easier, they will try in most cases to re-route you back onto the nearest junction ahead unless you have selected to avoid the current road you are on.

 

Navigator Screen  Navigator Screen

 

POI Data

One of our major complaints regarding previous versions of TomTom Navigator was the lack of POI's included.  This primarily is down to TeleAtlas and the support they carry, but POI Support is getting better   Another thing worth mentioning is we hold a complete repository for POI's at PocketGPSWorld.com which is available from the POI Page and from the POI-Sync page.

POI groups include:-

 

  • Airport

  • Amusement Park

  • Beach

  • Camping Ground

  • Car Dealer

  • Car Repair Facility

  • Cash Dispenser

  • Casino

  • Cinema

  • Map Screen and POI'sCompany

  • Convention Centre

  • Exhibition Centre
  • Ferry Terminal
  • Frontier Crossing
  • Golf Course
  • Government Office
  • Hospital/Polyclinic
  • Hotel/Motel
  • Mountain Pass

  • Mountain Peek

  • Museum

  • Nightlife

  • Open Parking
  • Opera

  • Park And Recreation Area

  • Parking Garage
  • Petrol Station
  • Place of Worship

  • Post Office
  • Railway Station
  • Rent Car Facility
  • Rent Car Parking

  • Rest Area

  • Restaurant

  • Shop

  • Shopping Centre

  • Stadium

  • Theatre

  • Tourist Attraction

  • Tourist Information Office
  • Yacht Basin

  • Zoo

Speed Camera Support

As with previous versions of TomTom Navigator, PocketGPSWorld.com still supports speed cameras within TomTom Navigator 3 with the ability of third party warning programs (some are free).

 

PocketGPSWorld.com Safety Camera Database

 

POI-Sync    PocketGPSWorld.com Safety Camera Database

 

Outlook IntegrationPocket Outlook Integration

Since TomTom Navigator 2, TomTom introduced a feature called Pocket Outlook Integration. This basically allows you to use contacts that you may have synchronised from Outlook on your desktop PC and use these as a Navigate To, so rather than having to remember and enter each address into TomTom Navigator and save them as a favourite or POI, you can use your Pocket Outlook Contact Database.

 

What you can do is tap and hold a contact within the Contacts program and you'll see two new options.  One option is Navigate To which will then jump you straight back to Navigator with the correct information allowing you to modify or OK the data. 

 

The second option is Show TomTom Map allowing you to see where the contact is on the map.  Both very good features, and it's nice to see how well this has integrated into TomTom Navigator 2 and remains in TomTom Navigator 3. 

 

3D Map

TomTom were the second company to include a 3D Map where you can actually drive the map rather than feel as though you're traveling it in a helicopter. Destinator was the first application to have a 3D view, followed shortly by TomTom and then nearly every other company. Although most see the 3D screen more as a gimmick, some (like myself) do still like it and it's good to see this hasn't been abandoned in Navigator 3. 

 

3D/2D Map Comparison

Here's a couple of motorway screen shots to show what the difference between the new 3D look and the conventional 2D look.  Some people like the 3D drive views, some people prefer what they're used to which is a 2D screen.  It's essential when implementing radical new features like this to not dictate what people are going to use, and it's good to be able to toggle between 2D and 3D modes quickly.

 

3D Map 3D Map 3D Map

3D Map

 

3D Map

 

3D Map

 

2D Map 2D Map 2D Map

2D Map

2D Map

2D Map

 

Navigator Screen

The Navigator Screen allows you to set a safety speed limit which allows you to not have to look at a detailed map when traveling at high speeds which can become rather dangerous both to yourself and passengers within your vehicle, but also to other road users. This is called the Safety screen. When using the Navigator Safety screen you will still continue to receive voice navigation prompts and you will also receive a basic on-screen display which helps in navigating to a destination safely. 

  

In the Navigator Screen you can also change where you want the Time to destination, Arrival time, and Distance to destination options to appear on the Navigator screen. 

 

You can also add + and - symbols to the enable zoom facilities on the map, set 2D and 3D modes with automatic zooming to on or off, show speed, show the no-power indicator, show sound muted indicator and many more options.

 

Within the Navigator Properties screen you can also set hardware buttons to various functions within TomTom Navigator 3 making it easy to navigate through the various options whilst you are driving, making it safer to operate if you have to without a stylus. TomTom really have thought of everything here, allowing for full customisation.

 

Congestion ZoneLondon Congestion Area

Something new in British life is the new London Congestion Zone.  TomTom incorporated a warning system into Navigator 2 and it's also available in Navigator 3 which will warn you if you plot or drive a journey into the charge zone around central London.

 

Two great features include

1) to be warned that you are going to enter the congestion area

 

2) to avoid the Congestion area altogether. 

 

Traffic Service

TomTom have started work on a Traffic Update Service. This isn't in the primary release of TomTom Navigator 3, but will be made available in May 2004 as a FREE three month trial for all registered TomTom users prior to September 1st 2004, and from there after will be a chargeable service and pricing will be announced after the trial has completed.

 

TomTom Traffic sends live, real-time alerts straight to the driver and offers an on-screen, bird's eye view of any traffic incidents or general traffic jams for any given journey. The Traffic add-on will also communicate how serious and how far away an incident is. This makes it easier and more efficient than ever before for drivers to plan the quickest journey, avoid individual incidents and general traffic jams completely. Alternatively, drivers can stay with their original route.

Routing around Traffic IncidentsThe TomTom Traffic add-on can automatically re-route your journey, but leaves the driver in control by default, to decide whether or not to use Traffic to calculate a new route, or wait for any delays to clear.

Traffic information is delivered to TomTom Navigator 3 via a GPRS Internet connection provided through your existing mobile phone. This ensures that the fastest, latest "always on" technology is offered to TomTom's customers, without additional hardware, additional dashboard wiring, or additional antennas. Receiving traffic information country-wide in a matter of seconds according to TomTom. The only thing you need is a working mobile Internet connection on your Pocket PC via GPRS.

The TomTom Traffic add-on will be initially available for Great Britain, Germany, France and The Netherlands.

Traffic information is seamlessly integrated with TomTom Navigator 3 in one complete user interface. Information is presented as images in an easy to view manner with colors, icons and 3D mode that makes it easy to understand.

 

With the Traffic Service Add-on you will be able to receive the latest traffic information for your journey via a GSM connected mobile phone, plan a new trip away from any traffic incidents prior to commencing your journey, be automatically re-routed around traffic incidents and receive real time traffic updates.

 

The downside with this is that GPRS and GSM data calls are never at their best when in-car. When you're driving at 80 (whoops, meant 70mph) you're constantly changing GSM cells and you could find the Pocket PC having difficulty in completing the call. What we have found with other similar services like LiveWire from Team Warrior (reviewed here) was that when a data call wasn't completed over GPRS, the Pocket PC would hang (cold) requiring a soft reset. Not the ideal thing you want to have to resolve whilst driving on a motorway!

 

TomTom ~ GPS Driver

Unfortunately TomTom have decided to leave in their "fudge" driver which takes control of the Pocket PC's Bluetooth Port and won't allow any other program to talk directly to it. This has been a major problem for most people who have more than one GPS program on their Pocket PC's, and after installing TomTom Navigator 3, as before, uninstall the TomTom ~ GPS driver and then allow it to soft reset the Pocket PC and all will return to normal.

 

Activation

Not a real surprise, but Activation is still a prominent part of TomTom Navigator 3, so you will be locked to the Pocket PC you want to use TomTom Navigator 3 on, just like you were with TomTom Navigator 2. The good thing in regards to upgrades, now that everyone should have a license key, you won't have to send your TTN2 CD's in for the TTN3 upgrade like you had to do when upgrading from TTN1 to TTN2, so TomTom with Activation have learnt from this earlier mistake on having CD's going missing in the post.

 

Hardware

TomTom comes in a variety of different hardware solutions. The first is a cabled GPS Mouse solution, and the second one is a Bluetooth (wireless) GPS. You will find most retailers mix and match other hardware with TomTom's software so you can purchase a variety of different hardware/software bundles.

 

TomTom Navigator Hardware

Satellite GPS-receiver, accessory plug power adapter and connection cables

 

 

Pricing and Availability
TomTom Navigator 3 is available from end March at major retailers across Europe. The recommended retail price for TomTom Navigator 3 Wireless GPS including car kit is €399, including VAT (£266). The standard GPS version including car kit is €299, including VAT (£199) and the Software only version at €169 (£112).

 

Low cost upgrade for existing TomTom Navigator 2 owners
European owners of TomTom Navigator 2 software can upgrade to the newest version for free or for a reduced price, depending on when the product was activated. Those who purchased and activated on or after 18 January 2004 will receive the upgrade for free, excluding shipping and handling costs. European owners who purchased and activated before 18 January 2004 will have to pay €49 to upgrade the software including any additional maps (such as Maps of Western Europe). Customers who wish to upgrade can begin ordering in mid-April, 2004. More information on the upgrade programme is available at the TomTom website at www.tomtom.com.

 

Problems Experienced

TomTom Navigator 3 works as good as TomTom Navigator 2 in most parts, there are updated maps, new features (albeit not major), and for the best part it does work well. In our testing we have had periodical lockups (freezes) of the Pocket PC when run under a HP iPAQ 2210 where prior to upgrade, TomTom Navigator 2 was working flawlessly. TomTom have since brought out 3.01 upgrade which is supposed to resolve this and a number of other bugs, but still we seem to receive frequent lockups even when you're not even driving or navigating!

 

Summary

Most people who use TomTom Navigator 2 will know that it's an extremely good and reliable program. There comes a time when a product can't really evolve at the same rate it has done in previous years because it has everything bar the kitchen sink, and TomTom Navigator 3 really is now in this category. There are some enhancements that can be added like Traffic Support (which TomTom will be including shortly), TMC-UK Support, TMC-European support and also a better searchable database. TeleAtlas do still let TomTom down, and I wonder what would happen to the accuracy of data if TomTom switched to NAVTEQ in future releases ? The problems we encountered with freezing and lockups although seems like a major issue and is one many earlier TTN3 adopters have also experienced, should be easily fixed via a program update and TomTom are extremely good at this, so although it may seem like a major issue, once TomTom have found the cause it shouldn't be an issue.

 

Review Kit Supplied By

 

 

References

Manufacturers Website http://www.tomtom.com
Pocket GPS Contributor Dave Burrows
Pocket GPS Contributor Website http://www.daveburrows.com
   
Rating  
Ability to plot route and follow

Re-Routing Quality

Map Detail
Voice Navigation Quality
   
Overall Rating 95%
How did we achieve these ratings ? Review Ratings
   

 

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