Alex Kidman is a freelance word writing machine masquerading as a person, a disguise he's managed for over fifteen years now, including a three year stint at ZDNet/CNET Australia. He likes cats, retro gaming and terrible puns.
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The thing that will strike you when taking the AU$249 GO 60 out of its box for the first time is that you're getting a lot of GPS for your money. That's because, in keeping with TomTom's naming convention, the first digit of a product name declares its screen size. The GO 60 features a 6-inch display screen, which is honestly as large as you could conceivably need in any vehicle smaller than a passenger bus. At 16.99x10.48x2.22 cm, this is a GPS designed to make your smartphone look small -- even if you are rocking an iPhone 6 Plus or Galaxy Note 4.
It's curious to note, then, that rather than the standard slot-in GPS mount found on its more premium GO 500/600 lines, the GO 60 uses a simple and relatively unobtrusive circular disc screen mount on its rear. It's quite welcome for when you're taking it off your car windscreen and stowing it away, although the practical effect when placing on your windscreen is that you've got to reach around past its immense screen and turn the locking wheel to get it to securely fit in place. On smaller car windscreens, or those with a slight curve to them, this can prove a little challenging. I tested in a Renault Megane and a Toyota Yaris, and finding a suitable screen spot on the smaller Yaris was on the tough side.
For many years TomTom doggedly stuck to the same user interface, happy in the knowledge that they had one of the best and simplest systems out there. That changed with the GO 500/600 series, and happily the GO 60 has been a beneficiary of this shift. TomTom's newer UI is incredibly map-centric. By default all you'll see is the map, with an ellipsis button on the lower left hand corner expanding out options for searching, showing your current route, reporting speed cameras or checking your pre-saved favourite destinations.
What's clever about this particular UI becomes apparent when you use the search function. Where most GPS systems would then split choices into addresses, co-ordinates and points of interest, the GO 60 simply gives you a Google-style search bar to enter any search term you can think of. The power of this feature is that even if you can't recall the exact street address, or only want to search for a particular store chain, you just enter the few scant details you've got, and the TomTom UI then presents you with the most logical places and point of interest locations based on what you type.
The GO 60 also supports voice commands, with an extensive list of commands available covering everything from volume control to day/night colour schemes, along with full route searching capabilities. As with the slightly more premium GO 500/600 series, the GO 60 offers both lifetime traffic and map updates in its purchase price.
The core UI behind the GO 60 may be shared with the GO 500 and GO 600, but the same level of responsiveness most certainly isn't. The problem lies with the technology underneath the hood of the GO 60. It uses a resistive display behind plastic as opposed to the capacitive display under glass of the GO 500/600 range, and the difference is quite profound in day-to-day use. In many ways it makes the UI much less impressive because you have to jab at buttons that work perfectly well on the better GPS units multiple times to get responses.
That cheaper resistive screen also has much worse reflection characteristics in direct sunlight, where it tends to wash out. This is especially marked with TomTom's default colour scheme, which washes out when you're only a few angles off directly facing the GO 60. Its larger screen does that make that slightly less of a factor in smaller vehicles, but it's still highly noticeable.
The included Voice Control feature does mitigate the screen responsiveness issue to an extent, although predictably you don't have to delve too far into the Aussie vernacular, (most notably place names with an Aboriginal origin) to confuse the GO 60. Noisier vehicles are also a factor here; the smaller and rattlier Yaris presented a notable challenge to getting the GO 60 to recognise voice commands at all.
Those issues would be relatively minor ones were the GO 60 the pinnacle of TomTom's GPS offerings, but the reality is that the AU$249 asking price on the GO 60 is identical to that of the 5-inch GO 500, which in every other way is a superior GPS product. The only thing that the GO 60 does better than the GO 500 is being larger, and for that market, there's the GO 600 at AU$299. If the GO 60 were a good AU$50-$100 cheaper, there'd be a solid case for its value, but at the current asking price, it's the very definition of a product that doesn't have a solid selling case.