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You certainly can't miss the TomTom Go 600. With a 6-inch capacitive display, it stands out even on large vehicle dashboards. Indeed, we'd suggest that for many cars, 6 inches is perhaps a little too large and distracting, although TomTom has you covered there with the cheaper TomTom Go 500, a 5-inch variant with otherwise identical specifications.
Still, the GO 600 is a large chunk of GPS to carry around with you. It would still be unwise to leave it prominently on a car dashboard, despite the lowering costs of replacement GPS devices. The design features a rounded plastic chassis that magnetically snaps into the screen mount and power supply.
Unlike many GPS devices, the GO 600 doesn't use mini USB but instead micro USB, which means it should be possible to charge it from your mobile phone adaptor, unless you're an iPhone user.
TomTom's interface was one that the company hadn't really refreshed ever, so the very first time you power up the GO 600 it may be a little startling to simply see a map screen and very few other buttons. TomTom has implemented a new user interface that they describe as map-centric; anything that displays on-screen is meant to be secondary to displaying the location instead.
The display graphics themselves have also been freshened up. TomTom's older UI, which you'll still find on its smartphone GPS applications for some time to come, was functional but blocky. The new UI takes the same visual elements and essentially gives them a high-definition makeover, with crisp and clean road lines, names and directions on-screen. The UI still displays the core information you're likely to want as a driver — current speed, distance to destination, distance to next turn and so on — but at the sides of the main map display, which means you're never in doubt as to where you are.
We hit one minor problem when starting up the GO 600 and that's the power button. It's a small strip at the top right of the GPS screen, and it's rather indistinct when you're trying to tap it in a hurry. Previous TomTom units have had nicely contoured buttons, and we can't figure out why the GO 600 wasn't designed that way.
The map-centric approach of the GO 600 means that instead of the standard address entry or POI entry that's dominated GPS thinking historically, you get a single search bar that interprets as you type and presents options as you complete your typing. This worked very well indeed in our testing, once we got used to tapping on the ellipses to bring up the search options. Route calculation was quick, and recalculation, if we went off course, was exceptionally fast and generally quite intelligent to boot.
The GO 600 uses both GPS and GLONASS satellites to discern your location. In our tests, this meant that it very rarely had to wait to get a lock-on signal or suffered from signal loss save for some very built-up areas where GPS units often struggle. It doesn't have fancy landmark names in the way that Navman and to a lesser extent Garmin's GPS offerings manage, but the spoken voice for the GO 600 manages its own rare trick because it's capable (or at least was in our tests) of managing Australian street names with a minimum of vocal mangling.
TomTom uses Sensis for its maps data and, like every other manufacturer, promises "lifetime" maps updates for the GO 600. We've said it before and we'll say it again: there is no single "perfect" maps data supplier in Australia, and the GO 600 was no different; we found a few spots where it predicted incorrect turns or didn't know small local road rules quite accurately, but that's no different to any other GPS we've ever tested. It's still quite important to keep your eyes on the road and your brain out of neutral when using a GPS.
The GO 600 is a great GPS that works simply. TomTom's improvements to its UI at first appear to be mere window dressing, but with extended use, it quickly becomes apparent how clever they are. They're good for quick searching and choosing locations while getting out of the way in an unobtrusive manner, leaving you looking at the road ahead, which is where your eyes should be.