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Why Gizmodo Got TomTom Wrong


Yesterday Gizmodo posted a piece of link-bait an article about the TomTom 740 LIVE. It was a scathing review of the device and the company. Here is why, point to point, we disagree.

First, I’ll lay down my cards and say I lost all respect for Gizmodo when Richard Blakeley brought one of those TV-B-Gone devices to the Consumer Electronics show. As a prank he used it to turn off walls of televisions on display while companies were giving presentations. At that point I started to view Gizmodo only as entertainment and not as a source of credible news.

So no, I don’t take their rant seriously. But people have asked me about the concerns raised in the article. So I’ll address them here. Anyway… back to TomTom.

It still takes 5 clicks (and three different screens) to cancel—pardon me, “clear”—an active route.

You can always tap the voice command button and speak “clear route”. Yeah, I know… tough to remember “clear route” is the same as the “clear route” button. But if you don’t like that, why not just turn the device off? Or better yet, let the device turn itself off when you turn the car off– it can do that automatically. There isn’t a functional reason to clear a route… You can create another route without first clearing the current route, and you can always turn the device off. Sure, it might be nice if it was closer to the top of the menu system. On many TomTom devices it is only two clicks away.

The main screen is still a mess, mainly too much unnecessary clutter: Satellite signal strength? Minutes till turn and distance till turn and time at turn, plus time at destination?

Minutes until turn? I don’t even see that as an option to turn on in the preferences. The same goes for “time at turn”. (Both of which don’t even exist.) If you don’t like the clutter, use the ‘Status Bar Preferences’ screen to turn things off you don’t use such as time at destination.

Traffic alert icons even when there are no traffic alerts?

I’ve never seen a “traffic alert” when it wasn’t alerting me about traffic. It is however good to know the difference between the device indicating it has received traffic information and there is no traffic, versus being out of the coverage area. But again, after about a thousand of miles in Boston and Los Angeles traffic I’ve never seen a traffic alert when there was no traffic to be alerted for.

The road graphics still look horrible, and the refresh isn’t always fast enough to tell you where you are

Yes, the graphics are not quite as crisp as Garmin devices. That is true. But it hardly impacts my ability to get to the destination. It isn’t so ugly that I have to turn away in horror. And the screen refresh rates of TomTom devices are frequently cited by customers as being faster than many of the newer Garmin devices.

There’s no bar up top that says the name of the street you should turn on

Yes, there is. The first screenshot of their rant even shows it. At the bottom it says they are on 27th Ave NE and at the top there is a bar that says “Hwy 513” which is the next street they are being told to turn on..

you only hear the street names and numbers aloud if you select the single […] “computer” voice

Correct, you only get text-to-speech if you use a text-to-speech voice. Don’t like the one installed? Use the included free TomTom HOME application to download others.

it keeps telling you what exits not to take, even if you’re going straight for hundreds of miles

You can turn that function off if you don’t like it. It is called “Disable ‘keep to highway lane’ instructions” in the preferences.

It doesn’t turn on and off with ignition—like all Garmins

No, it doesn’t turn on automatically… but it does turn off automatically.

TomTom still just pretends to be US-friendly. The meaningless “international” icons, featureless line-drawing maps

I’m not sure what an “international” icon would look like, and how is the US any different from the rest of the world when it comes to “line drawing maps”? Yes, the TomTom map isn’t as pretty as other GPS devices. But it doesn’t prevent me from being able to follow the map.

Voice recognition is unhelpful, because in order to use it, you have to memorize all of the possible commands

How else would voice recognition work?

Frankly, Gizmodo seems to be making this stuff up since they get so many facts wrong. Complaining about features that don’t exist such as “minutes til turn” and “time at turn”…. Saying there is no “next turn bar” at the top yet they show a photograph where it shows the “next turn bar”… complaining about features that you can simply turn off if you don’t like them…

7 Responses

  1. Gizmodo tries to be too much to too many. That’s the very reason why I view every article on pcmag or pcworld.com not relative to an actual PC with a grain of salt. (I also question some of the opinions of PCs as well.) Same with Wikipedia. Great tool but subject to error.

    patruns - May 13th, 2009
  2. I don’t know why, but I see a lot of people that feel they need to bash TomToms. As with a lot of those who do bash TomToms, they do not have their facts straight. While I will readily admit there are things about my GO 930 that are not perfect, it still does the things I find most important in a GPS better than any other currently on the market.

    Shooter - May 16th, 2009
  3. I have to agree. Gizmodo is basically a bunch amateur [deleted] who have some inflated ego that they are “it” when it comes to any electronic device review, etc. However every review you read is riddled with factual errors and as you said, [deleted] that is just plain made up.

    I urge anyone reading this to just quit going to their site, the reviews are pointless and largely inaccurate.

    Homer - May 17th, 2009
  4. I think most of their points are valid.

    Mark - May 18th, 2009
  5. I agree w/ the complaint about the unit not turning on w/ ignition. The unit is designed to be used in a vehicle. It should power on w/ it.

    Proper voice activated / voice recognition operation is the way Garmin has it in the 8xx series. You shouldn’t have to memorize commands.

    IsLNdbOi - May 21st, 2009
    • I disagree about automatically turning on. What percentage of drives does a person really need the gps unit for? The vast percentage of driving, unless you’re in the delivery business or sales, are to places that you go to frequently – work, groceries, etc. Why turn the gps unit on 100% of the time, when it’s probably only actually needed 5% of the time or less?

      joseph - August 15th, 2009
      • Why not have it on all the time?

        I like to have mine on so I can see the temperature outside, whether there’s traffic coming up, to find the cheapest fuel closest to me, etc..

        IsLNdbOi - August 16th, 2009

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