TomTom GO 2505 TM review:

TomTom GO 2505 TM

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After a short pairing process with a Bluetooth-enabled phone, the TomTom Go gains the ability to act as a speakerphone for hands-free calling. Support for phone book access (PBAP) means that the TomTom can download the user's address book for quick dialing access from the phone menu or voice command, which we'll come back to later.

When connected to its power cable with integrated RDS-TMC receiver, the Go series can receive and display traffic data. On the map this data manifests as color overlays for major highways and roads with red indicating serious congestion and green showing a healthy flow. During navigation, a traffic indicator bar on the right edge of the map screen similarly shows color coded call outs of traffic flow with icons indicating expected delays with the estimated time they'll cost along the chosen route.

The Go units also feature a voice command system that is not heavily featured in the promotional materials or the instruction manual. There are actually two parts to it: address entry and general voice commands.

The address entry portion appears on the onscreen keyboard as a small microphone icon, but user can also add a shortcut to this function with the "Make your own menu" option in the settings. Once activated, onscreen and spoken prompts ask the user to speak the city, street name, and building number before presenting the user with turn-by-turn directions to the chosen destination. All input and confirmations are handled by voice once the process starts, so the driver can feasibly keep his hands on the wheel.

On the other side of the voice activation coin is the general Voice command and control option. This function is hidden under the "Make your own menu" option and is, to the best of our knowledge, not accessible from any other menu. In fact, the only other reference that we could find was in the electronic product manual in the Help menu. Before planning to use the voice command system, users should plan to take a few minutes to browse the "What can I say?" portion of that manual, because upon activation, the Voice command and control system gives the user no onscreen prompts and no voice cues for what spoken commands are expected. It simply asks that you "Speak a command." This adds a extra level of difficulty to the learning curve, as opposed a unit like the Garmin Nuvi 3790T. However, once the commands are learned, the TomTom Go's voice command system will allow a user to do everything from initiate a hands-free call, to navigate to the nearest gas station, reroute around traffic, and make MapShare corrections using little more than the sound of their voice.

We're not sure if it's the more powerful hardware, snappier WebKit-based interface, or TomTom's new IQ Routes algorithms at work, but the Go 2405 TM was lightning fast when it came to selecting routes. Thanks to a very thorough set of options, the Go can also be set up to, for example, always ask about routing type, ask if you're planning on carpooling, or automatically start routing once a destination is chosen without waiting for confirmation. These and the dozens of other small choices that the user can make in the Planning settings and Advanced options menus give the user a good deal of flexibility in streamlining destination selection and routing with the Go.

Once under way, the Go 2405 TM proved to be quite accurate under what we considered to be reasonable operating conditions. Of course, long tunnels and urban canyons lined by skyscrapers give all GPS devices a hard time, the TomTom Go is no exception.

Turn-by-turn directions were spoken loudly and clearly and delivered in a timely fashion that prevented any dangerous last-minute swerves for almost-missed turns. And when the road got crowded, the Go occasionally presented us with alternative routes around jams when available. Nice touches like displaying the speed limit as an icon and providing visual warnings for traffic cameras may help drivers to avoid unnecessary tickets and the ability to display POI icons on the live map may help users to locate an emergency gas station without having to set a destination.

During our testing, the TomTom didn't ask us to do anything too crazy, and the routes chosen usually lined up fairly well with our local knowledge of the geography.

In sum
Our first impression of the new Go 2405 TM and 2505 TM models are that they are probably the best that TomTom has ever made. Routing is faster than ever; the interface behaves much more consistently and is easier to navigate; and the hardware has a gracefulness that is both aesthetically pleasing and thoughtfully usable.

However, the capacitive touch sensitivity and similar feature set beg comparison with our current Editors' Choice, Garmin's Nuvi 3790T, and--aside from a few interface quibbles and the obvious difference in form factor--the units are mostly equals. However, the Garmin's voice command system is more consistent and much easier to learn to use. Then again, the TomTom's MSRP sits $150 lower than the superthin Garmin's, making the Go 2405 TM a much better value.

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