Last July, the TomTom GO got our engines revving as this supercool automotive GPS won our Editors' Choice award for its portability, its accuracy, and its awesome navigation features. Since then, we've anxiously been anticipating the company's next product, and it seems to be worth the wait. Like its predecessor, the TomTom GO 700 ($899) keeps the same compact form factor but now stores maps in its hard drive. And the pièce de résistance: integrated Bluetooth for hands-free cell phone use. Don't need all that functionality? No worries. TomTom also offers a step-down model, the GO 300 ($699), which comes with maps of the United States preloaded on SD cards rather than the hard drive.
Upside: We're suckers for two-for-one deals, so we were thrilled to hear that the TomTom GO 700 has integrated Bluetooth. This new and exciting feature lets you use the device not only as a navigation aid but also for hands-free control of your cell phone. TomTom claims the GO 700 is compatible with most of the leading Bluetooth-enabled mobiles. There are plenty of other goodies crammed into the compact (4.5 by 3.6 by 2.3 inches; 11 ounces) TomTom GO 700. All the maps for North America are preloaded on the GO 700's hard drive so that you don't have to deal with SD cards, plus you get all the usual navigation features, such as voice-guided directions, a comprehensive points-of-interest database, and support for up to 30 languages. And while all these features are great for long trips, wouldn't it be helpful to have tools such as real-time traffic information for your day-to-day commute? Well, now you can. The GO 700 supports TomTom's new Plus services, which offer real-time traffic and weather data. Just note that this is a subscription service and will run you $4.99 a month (weather information is free) or $49.99 annually.
Downside: Although TomTom improved the touch screen on the GO 700 to display 4,096 colors (rather than 256), that's still not very eye-popping or bright compared with today's laptops, PDAs, or even cell phones. We'd like to see more in-car GPS manufacturers make systems with higher-quality displays. And let's hope TomTom improved its mounting device, since it took a chunk out of our dashboard last time--oops. While we're on the subject of accessories, you'll have to fork over an additional $50 if you want a remote control.
Outlook: If the TomTom GO 700 performs anything like its predecessor, the future of this plug-and-go automotive GPS device looks very bright. Plus, the GO 700 offers a couple of features the competition doesn't, so we're anxious to take the new Bluetooth capabilities and real-time traffic service out for a spin. Check back soon for a full review.