Slotting in below last year's, the XL 250 doesn't look much different. The body shape is nigh on identical, with the only visual difference that we could spot being the XL 250's lack of silver piping on its screen bezel. The XL 250 comes fitted with a 4.3-inch resistive touchscreen that's been endowed with a class standard 320x240 resolution.
On the back of the XL 250 is a large, loud and clear speaker. Around this rests TomTom's EasyPort windscreen mount, which while compact and ingenious falls off too readily when you're adjusting the unit's viewing angle. That is, of course, unless you know that the trick is to grab the device firmly, holding both the screen and the speaker, when making your adjustments. Unfortunately, the first review unit we tested had a non-working suction cup.
It's only when the XL 250 is switched on that differences between it and previous XLs becomes obvious, as the XL 250 adopts the simplified interface that debuted on the entry-level TomTom Start.
The revised main menu features two large icons (Plan Route, Browse Map) underneath which are smaller buttons for volume, day/night mode, help, options and returning to the map screen. Destination entry is a pretty simple affair, as TomTom has given XL 250's users a QWERTY keyboard.
Although not eye-catchingly beautiful, the pretty much unchanged map screen does its job with a measure of clarity. One recent addition is a large button allowing users to add fixed and mobile speed camera locations, which depending on your inclination to speed and your own forgetfulness may or may not be a boon. Along the bottom of the map screen are three information boxes, tapping each one brings up a different shortcut, such as volume, 2D/3D view and route overview controls.
Only two text-to-speech voices are available on the XL 250, both British, one female and one male. They do a reasonable job of pronouncing Strayan (translation: Australian) street names. For certain roads, though, it feels the need to spell out each letter of a route designation instead of just saying the road name — for instance, the Bradfield Highway is often "S-T-A-T-E-R-O-U-T-E One".
Configuration options are a little more spartan than in more highly specified TomToms, but our biggest bones of contention are the lack of a brightness control for the screen, and the fact that switching between day and night map modes is a purely manual affair. Speed and red-light camera warnings are included, but school zones are not.
Being an entry-level widescreen model, the XL 250 does without some high-end features found elsewhere, like voice recognition, traffic information, Bluetooth hands-free, FM transmitter and MP3 playback.
The XL 250 is fitted with the Whereis' latest Australian maps. As such, there's lane guidance for most roads, and junction view for highway and motorway exits and junctions.
Like other TomToms, the XL 250 allows users to correct map errors, like speed limits, turn restrictions and traffic flow direction. Plug the XL 250 into a computer, boot up the TomTom Home software, and users can also share their corrections and download corrections from the TomTom community (once verified by TomTom) via the Map Share service.
Thanks to the on-board historical traffic and speed data, the XL 250 comes up with routes which are marginally better than those of its competitors. While time to destination estimates are far more accurate, routes are usually sub-optimal, and can sometimes be circuitous or difficult to traverse.
Positioning works perfectly outside the CBD, but can become muddled every now and then in the city, where the tall buildings block communication from the GPS satellites above.
Take one entry-level Start and, voila, the slightly cheaper XL 250. Nice, but in no way revolutionary., bung in the simplified interface from the