Sat-navs can make you want to kill a man. Many are difficult to use, equipped with out-of-date maps and annoying synthetic voices, and so detached from the reality of everyday motoring that most people only use them when it's absolutely essential to do so.
TomTom's flagship Go Live 1000 aims to drag sat-navs kicking and screaming into the 21st century. It promises advanced features like real-time traffic information, integrated Google search, and the very latest maps, which account for recent changes to road layouts. It sounds pretty amazing, but is it worth the £250 asking price?
The Go Live 1000 is an attractive device. It has a large, 4.3-inch capacitive touchscreen, with a brushed-steel rear and curved edges. Its mounting dock is small, unobtrusive and easy to fit. The Go Live 1000 slots into the cradle via a magnetic mount, which is then connected to the windscreen by twisting the bottom clockwise to lock it into place. The power cable, a USB model with an adaptor for your car's cigarette lighter, connects to the device along the bottom edge.
Tap, tap revenge
The Go Live 1000 is arguably the easiest-to-use sat-nav we've ever had the pleasure of encountering. Switch it on and the 4.3-inch display defaults to a map showing your current location, rather than the main menu. From there, it's possible to tap and drag the map to have a look at your surroundings, which is great if you're already roughly in the area you need to be, but can't quite find your destination and can't be bothered to activate a full navigation session.
Unusually for a sat-nav, the touchscreen is responsive. The Go Live 1000 has a capacitive multi-touch display that lets you make pinching and stretching gestures to zoom in and out of maps, in the same way as you would on the. The multi-touch functionality isn't particularly smooth -- it takes approximately half a second after a pinch or stretch gesture for the screen to redraw -- but it's slightly more intuitive than tapping buttons to zoom in or out.
The Go Live 1000's menus are logically arranged, but there's no need to fret if the standard layout isn't to your tastes, as it's possible to create custom menus -- sort of. The main menu interface is set in stone, but you can place shortcut buttons directly onto the driving view. This comes in handy when you need a button to help you navigate quickly to the nearest car park, for example, or a shortcut to switch the sat-nav's audio on or off.
Talking to a brick wall
One of the Go Live 1000's most interesting features is its voice-input system. To use it, you simply tap 'navigate to' on the main menu, then hit 'spoken address' and the Go Live 1000 will ask you to speak your destination, beginning with the name of the city, then the name of the street, and then the number of your destination.
It's a great idea in principle but, in practice, the voice-recognition system is a real disappointment. It repeatedly mistook the word 'London' for 'Mudnam' (which isn't even a place, as far as we're aware, and, even if it were, why would we want to go there?) and failed to recognise street names even after exaggerated enunciation. To its credit, the system seemed to recognise some people's voices better than others, but it's just not accurate enough to rely on.
Live and let live
Like all high-end TomTom devices, the Go Live 1000 provides access to TomTom's Live services. These allow the sat-nav to download up-to-date information about your surroundings via a built-in SIM card and data modem.