TomTom GO 720 review: TomTom GO 720

Another new tool on the TomTom GO 720 is the "Help Me" function. With a simple tap on the lifesaver icon, it will tell you where you can find the nearest police station, hospital, or car service center, based on your current location. In addition, there's a "Where am I?" option that gives you the name of the street you are on and the nearest intersections, so you can give this information to the tow truck service, family member, and so forth. It's a really nice safety feature that can come in quite handy in case of an emergency.

The GO 720 has integrated Bluetooth, so if you have a compatible Bluetooth cell phone, you can pair it with the GO to make hands-free calls. For incoming calls, you can either use the touch screen to accept or reject calls or turn on Auto-Answer in the Phone preferences menu to have the device automatically pick up after a certain time. Also, if a number is listed with a POI or emergency service from the Help Me menu, there's an option to dial out directly from the GO 720.

In addition to making calls, you can use the Bluetooth connection to access TomTom's Plus services, which include real-time traffic information, weather reports, and the location of safety cameras. There's also a cool feature called Buddies, which lets you see the location of any friends or family members who also have a TomTom unit. Just be aware that accessing these services means you're using the minutes from your cell phone's service plan, so use them accordingly. Also, it seems that Verizon Wireless and Sprint cell phones are not supported by the GO 720 at this time, while AT&T and T-Mobile customers should check for phone compatibility on TomTom's Web site. Unfortunately, the limited number of compatible handsets also means that the traffic services will only be available to a small number of users. That said, the good news is that TomTom has just released a traffic kit for $129.95 and $24.95 for yearly traffic service subscription.

Finally, the TomTom GO 720 has multimedia capabilities, including a music player, iPod compatibility, an image viewer, and a document reader. The system supports MP3s, Audible audiobooks, JPEG, and BMP file formats. And while the document viewer might seem like a strange addition, it can come in handy if you use it to download information about your destination and other POI along your route.

We tested the TomTom GO 720 in various parts of California, starting from San Francisco all the way down to San Diego. From a cold start, it took the unit about two minutes to get a GPS fix and subsequent starts took about that long or less. Once locked onto our position, the GO 720 accurately tracked us as we drove about town, although like most GPS units, it did lose its satellite fix when we drove through a tunnel and underground parking garage.

We also entered specific information for a trip from San Francisco to San Diego, as well as our standard test from the Marina district of the city to CNET's downtown headquarters. Route calculations were quick and accurate based on the list of text-based instructions. On the road, the voice directions were loud and clear, and the text-to-speech pronunciation of street names wasn't too shabby. We also missed several turns to test the route-recalculation rate, and the GO 720 did a good job of getting us back on track in a timely manner.

We experienced some difficulties installing the TomTom Home software on our PC, so we are working with TomTom to resolve this issue. Unfortunately, this means we weren't able to test the Map Share feature, but we will update this section soon. Music playback through the unit's speakers was impressive. We could have used a little more bass, but songs still sounded rich with plenty of volume. The TomTom GO 720's battery is rated for up to 5 hours of use.

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