TomTom GO 720
What is important to note about the TomTom 720 is that it is more than just a simple specifications bump to an existing model– This device brings a lot of brand new features to the TomTom line that we can expect to see in future TomTom devices. So while this device is thinner, faster, and has a nicer screen than many pervious models, it has a host of new features that make the 720 an important device. I’ve been able to log about 1,000 miles with the 720, and here is what we have found.
In many ways, the TomTom 720 looks like the ONE XL, but it is slightly thinner than the ONE XL. It appears to use the same screen as the ONE XL so it is extremely bright and very easy to read. When viewed from very wide and very high angles the screen doesn’t wash out as much as other screens and the colors stay fairly true throughout a range of viewing angles. The screen is 4.3 inches and runs at 480×272 pixels. In bright sunlight, the 720 performs very well, equal to other devices commonly though to have some of the brightest and most readable screens such as the 600 Nuvi series.
On the top is the power button, and on the back is the speaker and a newly designed way for the mount to connect. Gone is the big “plate” on the suction cup mount, instead there is a tiny square about the size of a quarter which slides into the device. This reduces the size of the mount and makes it slightly easier to pack away. Otherwise the mount is similar to the mount on the ONE/XL and features the same suction cup and ball and socket joint. The mount has just about the right amount of tension so that it doesn’t move around or vibrate on dirt roads yet doesn’t take much force to adjust the angle.
On the bottom is the SD card slot, USB/power port, a reset button you hopefully won’t need, a port to connect a traffic receiver, as well as a headphone jack. I’ve mentioned it many times before, but I’ll say it again that i don’t prefer any cords attached to the bottom of GPS devices since it can limit how low on the dash it can be mounted. However TomTom improved this in one area. The end of the USB port now has a 90Â° angle at the very tip, so you now can mount the 720 just as low on the dash as you would like. It still doesn’t give you easy access to the USB cable while the device is on the mount, but the new cable design is a very welcome improvement.
Under the hood you will find a SiRFstarIII chipset, which makes for very fast signal acquisition, and that signal should stay in environments like urban canyones that are tough for older chipsets. In fact while inside a large building without windows I was able to occasionally obtain a fix. During road testing in a variety of environments the GPS never lost its signal and proved extremely accurate. Battery life is reported to be about five hours, and we were able to achieve that level in our tests. This is also a reason you might upgrade to a 720 over the ONE XL which has a meager 2 hour battery life.
The maps of the USA and Canada come pre-installed on 2 GB of internal flash memory. So the SD slot remains free for you to add maps of other countries, or to install MP3 files for the music player. A few people including myself had had trouble with certain brand/size SD cards. It seems that newer cards which are 1 GB in size to 4 GB in size seem to work consistently well. However older smaller cards are sometimes not being read by the 720. You can follow our discussions on that in our thread about SD cards on the TomTom 720.
Also under the hood you will find Bluetooth for data connectivity as well as hands free calling. As with all Bluetooth devices, check out TomTom’s compatibility charts to make sure your device is supported. My primary phone didn’t work too well, although it wasn’t listed as a supported device either so I didn’t have high expectations. It would pair, dial, and receive calls… and even transfer the phone book up to the 720. However while I could hear the person I was talking to very well, the person on the other end of the call reported it was difficult to hear me. Other phones I tried worked much better. You can read about experiences other people have had in this thread about Bluetooth on the TomTom 720.
There is also an FM transmitter to pipe the music into the (likely) much better audio system in your vehicle. Note that currently hands free calling is not transfered over the FM transmitter. Many people prefer it that way, however it would have been nice to get a more clear output than the internal speaker provided. As has been the case with every GPS with an FM transmitter, people will have different results. Your results will depend on where you locate the 720 in your car, where your FM antenna is in your car, what type of FM antenna your car has, and the availability of open frequencies in your area. We’ve got discussions in the forums about the FM transmitter in the 720 as well. For me, the FM transmitter has worked perfectly well, providing clear transfer of audio without static and at acceptable volume levels. In the thread linked to above in this paragraph you will see a few tips people have discovered like making sure the volume level is set to 100%. There are also reports of improved performance when the battery is fully charged.
In the box you get the 720, suction cup mount, adhesive mounting disk, charger, and dock. There is also a coupon offering a “Latest Map Guarantee”. Within 30 days of owning your 720 you can go to a special section of the TomTom website and enter in a special code. If your device was sitting on a store shelf while a map update was taking place you can upgrade to the latest map within that 30 day period.
The TomTom GO 720 is the first TomTom device to feature their new version 7 application. We expect a free update for other devices to be available as TomTom has done in the past. There are a lot of great new features in the version 7 application. For example when navigating to an address, you are now prompted for the state, first and independently of the city. For many people this will help streamline the process of navigating to an address, especially for those located in places like “Greenville” which exists in many states.
The world is also starting to look more 3D on the TomTom 720. Rivers and lakes are drawn “sunken” while in select cities building footprints are “raised” up off the ground view. This is yet another step forward of making the picture in the screen look more like the picture out the window. Elements like sports stadiums and playing fields are drawn in a different color for better representation.
Finally, a current street name field has been added to the primary interface, something lots of people have asked for, but frankly I’ve never found a use for. You can also move most of the fields from the bottom of the display to the right side of the display to take better advantage of the widescreen.
Brand logos for certain POIs are now displayed on the map which they call “brand icons”. So instead of driving by a bank and seeing a generic bank icon, you might see the logo for Bank of America.
Due to a faster processor and more RAM, the 720 produced much faster routes and a faster interface than offered in the ONE and ONE XL devices. Reroutes were also extremely fast if you happen to miss a turn.
Multiple Segment Routing, multi destination routing, whatever you want to call it , is available through the TomTom Itinerary Planning feature. We really like the ability to wrap up a bunch of destinations into one big route, and then see how far and how long the entire trip will take. I do wish they would enhance the feature so that if you have an itinerary filled with waypoints (as opposed to destinations) that the itinerary will notify you upon reaching one of the waypoints. Of course you could convert the waypoints to destinations, however then you don’t get the total itinerary summary. Still, the Itinerary feature goes well beyond what most of the competition currently offers.
Unlike the ONE series, you can setup auto day night mode, or choose to override the auto day night mode on the 720. There are lots of options for the audio. There are separate controls for navigation audio and music, for each type you can select if you want that type of audio to go through the internal speaker, through Bluetooth hi-fi, via line-out, or via an FM transmitter to your car stereo. There are also settings which allow you to override automatic zooming while navigating a route. Battery saving preferences allow you to do things like turn the display on or off between instructions.
The traditional method of getting traffic over Bluetooth is available. But as we expected, RDS-TMC traffic is coming to the 720. The receiver should be available at about the same time as the 720 hits store shelves. The price is expected to be around $130 and include a one year subscription.
TomTom is also making a huge push to highlight new safety features in version 7. There is a new ‘Help me!’ button which asks you if you want to phone for help, drive to help, walk to help, or get specific information about your current location. If for example you select to drive to help it will ask if you want the nearest car repair facility, the nearest hospital, police station, pharmacy, or the nearest fire station.
Additional options include hiding options while driving, suggesting breaks on long drives, warning if you are driving over the speed limit, or warnings when you are near a school or church.
The 720 also is making strides towards user customization. One way is through custom vehicle icons. You can now pick a different type of car to use in your display, or you can even make your own vehicle icon.
An even bigger customization is that you can now create your own voice prompts. Using the built in microphone the 720 will guide you through recording about 60 words/prompts to create a full voice that can be used in navigation. I can see spouses recording funny voices and parents recording their kids’ voices. The process takes about 15 minutes to complete. Unfortunately, this can’t be used in conjunction with text-to-speech, you can use a customized voice or a text-to-speech voice, but not a combination of them. You can, however use a combination of a customized voice and a standard voice to fill in for any prompts you haven’t customized.
Another interesting feature is that the new interface will allow viewing of certain document file formats such as Word documents. It also appears you will be available to send those files back and forth over Bluetooth, however I haven’t tried it yet.
And of course the biggest customization possible is that offered through Map Share, we won’t get into the details of that here but will expand on our other article very soon. But yes, if you find something you don’t like about the map you can edit it on the device or report the issue. In my neighborhood there is a street TomTom devices typically try to route me on that doesn’t exist. I was able to quickly open the editor, select the road segment, report that the segment wasn’t actually there, and then calculated the route again. The device then routed around the non-existent street. Other MapShare users were able to confirm my road change in their devices. Really cool!
Iit is hard to imagine this device not being a huge hit. It has generated more buzz in the industry than any other recently announced device. We’ll reiterate that this device isn’t just a bump in specs, it really represents the first in a new generation of TomTom devices. We’re glad to see easier ways to obtain live traffic information, text-to-speech, a thinner size, and longer battery life than other models. Typically those specs would be cause enough for a new model. But the TomTom 720 will also set a higher benchmark in terms of personalizing the device by allowing map updates, downloading map updates suggested by other users, and building your own voice prompts. For an MSRP of $499 this GPS should be a big hit.