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TomTom debuts new entry-level GPS for Europe

The TomTom Start is TomTom's newest entry-level car navigation device for the European market.

TomTom Start
The TomTom Start will be customizable, inexpensive, and unavailable in the U.S. TomTom

The Start is TomTom's newest entry-level car navigation device for the European market. Featuring a smallish 3.5-inch color touch screen and a fixed version of TomTom's (normally removable) EasyPort mounting system, the Start is aiming to be a low-cost, pocketable device.

The shape isn't the only thing that's been simplified. The menu's home screen has been simplified to two buttons, "Plan route" and "Browse map." No word has been given on if or how more-advanced menu options will fit into this scheme, but hopefully this reorganization will make the Start's menu as uncomplicated as the Garmin Nuvi menu hierarchy that we love so much.

Powering the route guidance is TomTom's IQ Routes and Map Share technology that have permeated the manufacturer's entire line of PNDs. IQ Routes uses aggregated speed data (both from the user and from other TomTom owners who choose to share their anonymous data) to choose the fastest route based on the time of day. Meanwhile, Map Share is an optional map-update service that employs user-generated corrections. Text-to-speech and graphic lane guidance appear to be absent, further differentiating the Start from the more-advanced One and XL lines.

Users can further customize their Starts (which are available with black or white shells) with removable covers (which cost 15 euros) available in six colors, or by choosing custom voices and start-up screens using TomTom's Home desktop software.

The TomTom Start is available in the U.K. and Ireland, the Netherlands, Spain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway with either regional maps or full European maps for 129 euros and 149 euros, respectively. Considering that the next least expensive IQ Routes-enabled PND (the TomTom One) is about 170 euros, that's a fairly good deal.

No plans for a North American release of the Start have been announced, but we're keeping our fingers crossed.