The Go 1000's story is one of potential unfulfilled. It may be a winner after a patch or two and when the PC software's been made to work as it should, but until then it's hard to recommend.
As TomTom's top-end model range, the latest generation Go series features a swag of high-stylin' design cues. On the back there's a machined metal cover that feels particularly upmarket, while the front is dominated by a glossy capacitive 4.3-inch touchscreen — the Go 1050 and Go 1050 World are mechanically identical, but feature a larger 5-inch capacitive touchscreen.
At 19mm thick and with a body primarily constructed out of plastic, the latest Go range can't quite match the sheer sex appeal of the Garmin Nuvi 3760 and Nuvi 3790T. Although the AU$50 saving over the Nuvi 3760 does make up for this slightly.
The new compact mount design sticks firmly to a car windscreen, but while a windshield mount is a windshield mount is a windshield mount, TomTom has added a neat twist — the Go 1000 is held firmly in place by the power of magnetic attraction. This allows the device to be easily snapped on and off the cradle for destination entry.
Another neat touch is power charging set-up: the unit's proprietary connector cable ends in an everyday USB plug that fits into a 12V in-car USB power adapter that can also be used for charging other items, like, say, one's phone or MP3 player.
By using a capacitive screen, the Go 1000 is a fair whack more responsive than its resisitive screen bretheren. It also allows users to swipe through lists and menus, as well as pinch to zoom in and out of maps. While the glossy screen has more showroom appeal than the usual matte screen, the downside is that during the day reflections can be distracting in the extreme. Often we weren't able to find a viewing angle that could eliminate them completely.
The overall structure of TomTom's easy-to-use menus and interface have been left largely alone, but the company has given the graphical package a bit of spit and polish to bring it visually into 2010. Underneath it all is a completely rewritten code base that from 2011 will support widgets.
Despite the presence of a voice recognition system, we found using the traditional on-screen keyboard to be far simpler. Completely hands-free operation isn't possible, because unlike the Garmin 3790T the Go 1000 isn't always listening out for a keyphrase, rather it requires you to reach over and press an on-screen button — assuming, of course, that you've configured (via Settings > Make your own menu) the voice command system to have a map screen shortcut button.
Activate voice recognition on the Nuvi 3790T and a list of relevant voice commands appears on screen. The TomTom, unfortunately, forces you to remember all its commands off by heart. Compounding matters, there's no voice command to bring up the repertoire of understood words. For that, use your fingers to hit Help > Product Manuals > What can I say?.
In our buzzbox, the TomTom's comprehension rate ran at about 50 per cent or lower, significantly below the 80 to 90 per cent success rate we had with the Garmin Nuvi 3790T. Topping it all off, the Go 1000's voice recognition system regularly stopped functioning, requiring us to get our big mitts out to prod the destination entry process into the next phase.
After all our frustration with the Go 1000's verbal comprehension skills, the Bluetooth hands-free system proved to be a pain free experience. Pairing with a variety of iPhones and Android devices was speedy, as was reconnection at start up. Sound quality from the TomTom's built-in speaker was fine, but some people on the other end did complain that we sounded rather distant, requiring us to shout at the device.
Traffic messaging, MP3 playback and FM transmitters are technologies that TomTom Australia has shunned for a few years, so it's no surprise to see that none of these features are present on the Go 1000 or indeed any TomTom device sold in the land of football, meat pies, kangaroos and Holden cars.
In previous years, the company's GPS units have used the excellent TomTom Home software on the PC that was able to manage software updates and novelty voices, as well as map purchases, updates, correction and sharing. Starting with this year's Go range, that's been junked in favour of a watcher app and browser plug-in — collectively branded as MyTomTom — that's currently limited to software updates and not much else.
The Go 1000 starts up from sleep in around 5 seconds, but we had to sit through a full reboot a few too many as the Go 1000 had the habit of crashing once every few days.
As for the basic task of getting you from A to B, the Go 1000 does a reasonable job. Routing and re-routing is quick, even for distant destinations. In lieu of Suna's traffic messaging service, the Go 1000 makes use of TomTom's IQ Routes instead. This set of real-world speed data helps the unit avoid certain choke points during peak hour, but still misses various well known roads-cum-car-parks and doesn't help the Go avoid impossible right-hand turns.
Location accuracy is good in the suburbs and the bush, but like all portable GPS devices this deteriorates when you're surrounded by tall buildings. In the CBD the Go 1000 is likely to get things muddled up and place you a few streets over from where you actually are.
Equipped with the latest Whereis maps, the Go 1000 has lane guidance for most roads and there's also junction view for motorway junctions and exits. Map errors can be corrected on the device, but the facility to share and download these corrections from other TomTom users is missing from the current version of MyTomTom.
Our review unit was missing the advertised red light and speed camera alerts. In TomToms past this little oversight was fixed with a quick visit to TomTom Home, which would allow us to add said missing warnings manually. With the new MyTomTom software that's currently no-can-do.
Hunt around and under Settings > Safety Warnings you can turn on alerts for schools but, like the warnings on previous generations of Navman devices, these alerts crop up whenever you enter a radial zone around a school. So you could be blasting down a freeway that passes by a school, university or TAFE college only to have your reverie broken by a useless alert.
Good looks and a responsive screen do not make up for the missing camera warnings, new PC software that's several steps behind the old version and a voice recognition that doesn't quite live up to its name. The Go 1000 might be a good GPS after a few a software patches, but as it is it's hard to recommend.