TomTom Navigator Software and PalmOne Bluetooth GPS Review

The TomTom Navigator software in conjunction with a Palm branded bluetooth GPS receiver worked as advertised on my recent trip from Boston, MA to Quebec City/Montreal, Canada and Lake George, NY. I purchased the TomTom Navigator/GPS package in 2004 for $299.00. The TomTom software is running on a PalmOne Tungsten T3. The T3 is attached to my windshield with a suction cup based mounting solution which places the T3 at a nice height for quick viewing. I usually place the bluetooth GPS module on the passenger side of the dashboard.

I did travel from Boston to Quebec City via Maine this year rather than my usual route via Vermont. It was very helpful to have the GPS display when I entered a town/city in Maine and Quebec. I could tell with a quick glance whether it was a small town, or a small city with the potential of multiple traffic lights and heavier traffic. A large portion of the trip from Maine to Quebec City is on single lane highways that do not bypass the towns/cities. Fortunately, the TomTom package I purchased included both USA and Canada maps.

The TomTom software allows you to load one map that includes all the New England states and New York in one file, and all of Quebec in another file. This feature resulted in my having to change maps only once at the USA/Canada border. The desired maps are downloaded from the included TomTom cd's to the SD card on the Palm device. During some portions of the trip, I entered origin and destination addresses which allowed the voice navigator to be used. You can also view step by step route instructions The voice navigator gives verbal announcements to supplement the visual display. For example: the verbal instruction you may hear is "right turn in 100 yards". If you look at the screen, an arrow will show the right turn on the map . You can choose from several voices to use, and the volume level was fine from the T3 speaker, even when playing my iPod through the car stereo system. The overall quality of the maps and verbal directions was excellent. Pairing the T3 with the GPS module was problem free.

The roads shown on the T3 display are large enough to be seen from the driver's seat without having to move closer to the T3 screen. The bottom of the screen contains useful information including: distance to next instruction (usually a turn), current time, estimated arrival time, time remaining, current speed, and distance to destination. My trip was in daylight hours, and fortunately, it was sunny. Although there was some glare on the T3 screen, the quality of the TomTom maps and the brightness of the T3 screen always resulted in a readable display, no matter how sunny it was. I was concerned about screen washout, but I never experienced it.

Another area that the TomTom software shines is in calculating a reroute. When I exited the Mass Pike in Boston, I wanted to get gas. I used a different exit than the software told me to. Within 15 seconds, the voice navigator started new directions from the exit I used to my house. I then took a right turn when the software told me to take a left. The left turn direction was correct; I took a right in order to get the gasoline. After another 15 seconds, the reroute was calculated again and the software was giving me correct directions after my intentional wrong turn.

My one concern has nothing to do with the quality of the software or GPS module. Although the windshield mounting is convenient, I do not like driving in heavy city traffic with the windshield mount. I want to have an unobstructed view of my right fender edge in heavy traffic. What I sometimes do in local heavy traffic is enter my origin and destination addresses, and place the T3 on the passenger seat. I am guided to my destination with the voice navigator only. This voice navigator only solution in heavy traffic works well for me. In addition, in heavy traffic, you do not have much time to look at the screen. I will try a vent mount for the T3 to ascertain if that is a better solution in heavy city traffic.

There is an update to the GPS software and maps available that I will be purchasing. If there are any substantial changes with the upgrade, I will submit an update to this review. The exact package that I purchased last year does not appear on the Palm website. I do highly recommend the TomTom software. The software worked very well with accurate maps and directions along with a plethora of preference settings.

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