One of the latest trends in satellite navigation systems is the use of wide screens. The first example was the Navman iCN 720, and TomTom continues the trend with its three latest devices: the GO 510, 710 and 910. We looked at the top-of-the range model, the GO 910.
The GO 910 performs its core navigation task very competently. The wide-screen format is certainly an improvement, and the software is well implemented in terms of presentation and usability, with the exception of a rather deep menu structure.
Thanks to its wide screen and built-in battery, the TomTom GO 910 is a relatively large device: it measures 112mm wide by 81mm high by 66mm deep and weighs a relatively hefty 340g. Its depth bucks the current trend for ever thinner devices. The fascia is sleek, as it's almost entirely occupied by the screen, which measures 102mm (4 inches) across the diagonal and provides 480x272 pixels of viewing area.
The main power switch is on the top of the device. The only other button is a mechanical switch on the centre of the front that helps you release the main unit from its cradle. All other user interactions with the device employ the touchscreen.
The GO 910 attaches to a vehicle windscreen via a sucker-style mount. This connects firmly into a slot on the back of the GO 910. The mount has 3.5mm audio-out and microphone ports, as well as a connector for an external antenna and a port called the 'TomTom Connector'. One of its functions is to connect your iPod to the GO 910 via an optional cable that lets you control your iPod via the GO 910 and, using the provided audio-out cable, connect it to your car radio for louder sound output than the built-in speaker can deliver.
Power is also delivered via the windshield mounting section. There is a battery built into the GO 910, but if you let this run down you'll need to attach it to the car mount to charge it again, or use the docking cradle to supply mains power. A charging port on the device itself would have been welcome.
The GO 910 moves freely on its mount, thanks to a ball joint that holds its two permanently attached sections together. The mechanism works very well, but users whose vehicles have a deep dashboard may find it awkward to reach the screen.
The product box contains a number of elements in addition to those already noted. Mains and car power cables are provided, as is a microphone, a remote control unit and a protective case for the GO 910 itself.
The GO 910 supports real-time traffic information (TMC) and you can get this in two ways. TomTom sells an RDS-TMC traffic receiver to provide access to radio broadcasts, which are free in many countries. This is listed on the TomTom Web site as becoming available in the third quarter of 2006. It requires access to the TomTom Connector and so can't be connected at the same time as an iPod.
The alternative is to buy the information as an add-on via TomTom PLUS, a service through which TomTom sells a range of extras. In this case, the information is delivered to a mobile phone, which is connected to the GO 910 via Bluetooth. You also need a data connection on the phone in order to receive the information. Charges for this vary (the full details are here), but a year's UK information costs €59.95 (£40) while a European subscription costs €79.95 (£54). You may also have to pay data charges.
Features and performance
The GO 910 is supplied with maps of Europe, the US and Canada. In the UK it supports full postcode navigation, and also allows you to enter a street name or road intersection as a destination. Alternatively, you can navigate to a city centre. The software defines 'city' pretty broadly: we used the city centre locator to navigate to Potter Heigham in Norfolk, a place even its most ardent supporters would struggle to describe as a metropolis.