TomTom Navigator 5 review: TomTom Navigator 5

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CNET Editors' Rating

4 stars Excellent
Reviewed:

The Good Gorgeous maps, especially on high-res PDAs; free TomTom Plus service fetches traffic and map updates; many on-device tips and tutorials; plans routes for walkers and cyclists.

The Bad Limited smart-phone compatibility; some Bluetooth-related wrinkles; no AC adapter for charging GPS receiver; TomTom Plus requires smart phone; manual covers software only.

The Bottom Line With great mapping features and advanced services, TomTom's latest navigation kit for PDAs and smart phones approaches GPS greatness.

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TomTom Navigator 5

The TomTom Navigator 5 adds one more weapon to your PDA's arsenal of features: GPS navigation. Though certainly not the first kit of its kind--add-on GPS receivers have long been available from vendors such as ALK Technologies and Pharos --Navigator 5 definitely represents the best of the breed. It's easy to use, packed with advanced features, and visually unsurpassed, especially if your PDA has a VGA screen. However, it's also on the pricey side ($299.95 for the Bluetooth version and $199.95 for the wired attachment), and it works with very few smart phones--a disappointment, given its advanced wireless capabilities.

For our tests, we used the Bluetooth version with a Dell Axim X50v. TomTom also offers a wired-GPS option that's compatible with a couple dozen Pocket PC models, mostly from Dell and HP. The Bluetooth version works with Pocket PCs and a handful of Palm OS devices, including the Palm Tungsten T5 and the Palm Treo 650 . Inexplicably, it doesn't work with the megapopular Samsung SCH-i730 ; the only compatible Windows Mobile smart phones (for U.S. users, anyway) are the HP iPaq h6340 and the T-Mobile MDA. For a complete list of compatible devices, check TomTom's Web site.

About the size of a granola bar, the rubberized, nonslip Navigator 5 GPS receiver is powered by an included cigarette-lighter adapter, which also charges its battery. Alas, TomTom doesn't supply an AC adapter for pretrip charging--a potential problem if you need your cigarette lighter to power your PDA. Fortunately, the battery lasts for a healthy 5 hours of continuous use, which is impressive, considering the receiver's diminutive size.

After you install the Navigator software on your handheld, a TomTom logo appears on the Today screen, thereby enabling convenient one-tap access to the program. Next, you select the maps you want to install, either by state or by region. The latter option speeds and simplifies the selection process but results in large map files that take a long time to copy to your memory card. For example, the Midwest region requires about 155MB of storage space, and in our tests, it took more than an hour to transfer to our PDA's SD card. The process goes much more quickly if you use a card reader instead of your Pocket PC.

We had some initial problems getting our Dell Axim X50v to recognize the TomTom Navigator, but we attribute them to Windows Mobile's awkward Bluetooth pairing process and the total lack of instruction in TomTom's HTML-based manual; it covers Navigator operation in nicely illustrated detail but offers zero information on the GPS itself. What's more, whenever we turned off the Axim X50v and turned it back on, it was unable to reestablish a connection with the GPS until we exited and restarted Navigator.

However, once we'd successfully paired our PDA and GPS devices, we had smooth sailing. The receiver quickly locked on to the required satellites and kept up strong reception throughout. The Navigator interface relies on large, easy-to-read icons, though you often have to flip between several screens to find what you're looking for, especially when you venture into program settings. Navigation occurs on either 2D or 3D maps, both of which deliver some of the sharpest detail and smoothest scrolling we've ever seen on a GPS. The Axim's VGA screen gets much of the credit; most navigation systems operate at a much lower resolution.

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TomTom Navigator 5

Part Number: 1H50.082
Low Price: $284.97 See all prices

Quick Specifications See All

  • Weight 2.4 oz
  • Receiver 20 channel
  • Antenna built-in
  • Product Type GPS kit