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In almost all facets the new TomTom Start 10 is identical to its predecessor, the Start that goes sans appellation. The Start 10 has a 3.5-inch resistive touchscreen, which is adequate for displaying all the information contained on the typical TomTom map screen.
The lack of diagonal inches, though, does make destination entry a bit problematic for those blessed with fat fingers or less than perfect hand-eye coordination; at least TomTom doesn't cripple the Start 10 with a non-QWERTY keyboard. In our experience, ripping the unit off the windscreen and using our fingertips is the best bet.
Its small screen and compact built-in windscreen mount allows the Start 10 to easily be relocated to even the most cramped glovebox or hidey hole in one's car. As far as the interface goes, the Start 10 uses a simplified version of the regular TomTom layout. The main menu has been cut down to two large icons (Plan Route, Browse Map) underscored by a line of five smaller buttons (Mute, Day/Night, Help, Options and Done).
Sitting at the base of TomTom's range, the Start 10 is naturally never going to be the most fully specced GPS on the market. Top-end inclusions like Bluetooth hands-free, FM transmission, MP3 playback, traffic messaging, automatic day/night mode and voice recognition are all absentees from the features list.
Text-to-speech that allows for street names to be spoken as part of the unit's verbal instructions generally works well, but it does get tripped up by some names, particularly those of Aboriginal origin. The holes in the faux speaker grille on the Start 10's detachable, flip-able windscreen mount are all boarded up, meaning that the sound from the unit's speaker has a rather hollow, far away and cheap sound to it.
The latest Whereis map of Australia is installed, as are speed and red light camera warnings. Should you run into any errors, such as blocked streets, incorrect speed limits, traffic flowing the wrong way and missing cameras, these can be fixed on your device. Your corrections and those of other TomTom users can also be shared via the excellent TomTom Home PC software that manages map and novelty purchases, software updates and other upgrades.
Typically the Start 10 takes five seconds to wake up from its slumber. A full reboot clocks in around the 18-second mark, although finding the reset pin is a fussy process that involves removing the built-in windshield mount (easy!) and then popping the unit out of its replaceable outer shell (ugh, tricky).
Route calculation times are nothing to get excited about, as are the routes themselves. The Start 10 will get you from A to B, but as with all GPS devices it will likely not show you the smartest nor most efficient route there. And that's despite the inclusion of collected historical speed data — branded IQ Routes.
The most (and, we'd argue, only) significant upgrade is the inclusion of lane guidance for most roads, and junction view for motorway junctions and exits. GPS reception in the suburbs and bush is fine, although gaining initial lock is on the slow side. When surrounded by tall buildings in the city centre, things become a little bit iffy, with the Start — like every portable GPS — sometimes losing its bearings.
Simple, cheap and capable of getting you from A to B, the Start 10 does what it sets out to do. The inclusion of junction view and lane guidance improves things quite considerably.