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The service that most people will use the most often, whether actively or passively, is TomTom's HD Traffic service. Unlike standard RDS-TMC traffic services, which rely primarily on highway road sensors and traffic reports, TomTom's HD Traffic uses positioning and speed data collected from third-party fleets, third-party incident data reporting, TomTom's established IQ Routes historical data reporting and algorithms, and anonymous position and speed data from every TomTom Live connected device on the road. Essentially, by using the service, TomTom users are actively making the system more accurate.
TomTom's data centers crunch this data and spit it back out to TomTom HD Traffic users every 2 minutes, whereas the RDS-TMC system has a refresh rate of every 10 to 15 minutes. HD Traffic also has the advantage of providing traffic data for surface roads, an area frequently neglected by basic traffic services.
Other Live Services include weather forecasts that are read aloud by the 2535's text-to-speech engine, safety camera data that is integrated into the map and sounds a chime when the car approaches a speed camera or red-light camera, fuel prices nearby, in a specific area, or along the current route, and Google Local Search, which uses Google's servers to dig up points of interest that aren't listed in the 2535's database. One year of live connectivity is included in the purchase price of the Go 2535 M Live, after which you can continue the service for a $9.99 monthly fee.
One thing that TomTom Go 2535 M Live owners should never have to pay for is map updates, which are included for the lifetime of the device.
On the road
Before we even got behind the wheel of our test vehicle, we were pleased to see that the Go 2535 M Live packs in a few features that helped us to plan our trips ahead of time. Firstly, there's a "Show home-work" traffic feature that gives expected delays between preset home and work addresses at the touch of a button, without the inconvenience of setting up a route or going outside to achieve GPS lock.
A "Plan route" button on the home screen enabled us to look ahead in time using TomTom's IQ Routes prediction algorithm to estimate how long a trip should take at a point in the near future. For example, we could estimate what time we'd need to leave the office to make it to a dinner reservation. On the Destination details screen, a tabbed information box enabled us to tweak departure times, check for safety cameras on the route, and find where the cheapest gasoline on the chosen route was and how much it would cost us. Interestingly, the Go 2535 doesn't seem to offer multiple-destination routing--you can only place a single via point.
Once behind the wheel, we appreciated the Go 2535's Bluetooth hands-free calling integration when paired with a compatible handset. We also liked the voice command system, which seems to have been updated since we tested the Go 2405, with a new information screen that lists suggested commands such as "Drive to an address." Voice address entry supports full spoken addresses, rather than separately prompting for street name, street number, and city.
For actual routing, the Go 2535 performs as well as the previously tested Go 2405. The presence of TomTom's Live Services gives access to a feature called QuickGPSfix, which greatly decreases the time to satellite lock and gives the unit a small measure of positioning accuracy (within a few blocks) when used indoors. It's difficult to measure how much time the TomTom system saved us on our commute, but using the system to hunt down reported traffic jams revealed that--at the very least--its traffic data appears to be accurate down to the surface-street level in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The TomTom Go 2535 M Live meets the expectations set by the previous generation of TomTom Go GPS models and exceeds them when you consider the extra functionality added by the Live Services, at least for the first year of use. Once the $9.99 monthly fee kicks in during the second year of ownership, the Go 2535 M Live will be less of a deal. However, users will still have access to TomTom's great suite of connected services.