Rotten TomTomatoes

Those of you with good memories will remember that when I bought my new PDA, I fitted it with the latest version of TomTom, the talking Satnav software. I blogged at the time that I’d found a couple of things I didn’t like about it, but that I’d give it a fair trial.

In favour of the new version is that the mapping is more up-to-date: even with the error I found on day one, and another hilarious one Rockin’ Rob told me about, the maps are still better than the old version. It also does navigation by postcode1, which is great for those who like it: Rob uses his satnav to find customers who want him to hit their computers with big hammers, so it’s ideal for him. My main usage is finding out-of-the-way car parks in rural areas, where postcodes are much less useful.

So, what don’t I like?

  • Old version allowed customisation of the menus, so the most-used functions were easy to find. New version doesn’t.
  • Old version let you set up preferences for motorways, A roads etc, so if you wanted to pick a route that avoided motorways it was easy to set up. If new version allows this, I haven’t yet found out how.
  • With old version, you could programme a destination using Latitude/Longitude, which is how geocachers give locations for recommended car parks etc. This is the feature I miss most: you can still do it by a hack, but it’s a real fiddle and I really don’t see why they’ve left it out.
  • There seems to be some problem with using a Bluetooth GPS other than the bespoke TomTom one: The hardware’s OK because Memory Map reads it alright, it’s just TomTom. And no, there was no problem when I was using Old TomTom. I’ve solved this using a bit of intermediate software which seems to buffer out the problem, but again, I shouldn’t have to.
  • The old version had a feature to record the GPS signal, so you could play back your whole journey including course, rest breaks and speeds. The intermediate software2 referred above has given back this function, but it costs thirty dollars extra for something that used to be included.
  • Old TomTom kept the button on the screen that made it easy to switch to other programmes while TomTom was still running: New version takes over the whole screen. Yet again, there’s a hack to get round it, but you shouldn’t lose useful features in what’s supposed to be an improvement.
  • Old version had a simple system to programme areas to avoid – so, for example, if you were driving a high vehicle, you could prevent it from planning routes that went under low bridges. I guess for the average user, this is the most useful feature that’s been lost

I know that these, and many other problems, have been brought to the attention of TomTom via a number of fora, and it would be nice to think they’ll do something about it: We’ll see. A free bug fix for all registered users would be good, but I’m betting that if they do anything at all, it’ll be in the next paid-for upgrade. Meanwhile, I’ve still not finally decided whether to go back to old version or not.
1 That’s a “zip code” for our American chums
2 It’s GpsGate by Franson if you’re interested

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