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Sunday, March 18, 2012

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TomTom GO 720 review

Tomtom_go_720

UPDATE: This model has been discontinued. For current recommendations, please refer to our TomTom comparison chart.

I’ve been trying out a TomTom GO 720 for the past few weeks, and I am quite impressed with it.  I’ll get into the details of my review shortly, but first, here are a few notes about features…

The TomTom GO 720 has attracted a lot of attention as the first unit to incorporate TomTom’s new Map Share technology, allowing users to update certain aspects of its maps. Beyond that, the 720 sports a 4.3″ touch screen, Bluetooth for hands-free cell phone use, MP3 player, and a built-in FM transmitter. You can even control your iPod via the 720 (an accessory cable must be purchased separately).  The unit has text-to-speech so it calls out street names — that way you’ll get “turn left on Highland Drive” instead of just “turn left.” An optional traffic receiver allows for live traffic info on screen. While TomTom doesn’t state the number of points of interest (POIs), the database seems similar to those touting six million.

Step up to the TomTom GO 920T and you’ll get the traffic receiver included, voice commands, a remote control and what TomTom calls Enhanced Positioning Technology (EPT). This uses dead reckoning sensors to help keep track of your position when you lose satellite coverage (in tunnels, etc.).  To see how the 720 stacks up against other units, check out our TomTom GPS comparison chart.

Compare prices on the TomTom GO 720

TomTom GO 720 interface

What sets a TomTom in general, and the 720 in particular, apart from other GPS receivers? Like Garmin units, the TomTom interface is highly intuitive. But like Mio, TomTom offers lot of options for customization.  In this way, it combines the best of both worlds. It’s not as drop dead easy as a Garmin, because there are more options, but it’s very intuitive and much easier to use than a Mio.

TomTom GO 720 routing

The TomTom GO 720 performed well in my routing tests. It recalculated rapidly when turns were missed.

The 720 allows for routing to multiple destinations. It is also quite flexible in the ways you can choose a destination. For example, you can navigate to POIs near you, in a city, near your home, along your route, or near your destination. You can also browse the map to choose a point and navigate to it, find a POI nearby, add the location as a favorite, or add it as a POI.

The “Find alternative” route feature allows you to:

  • “Calculate alternative” (have the device find an alternate route)
  • “Avoid roadblock” 100 yards, 1/4 mile, 1 mile or 3 miles ahead
  • “Travel via” allows you to choose from home, favorites, addresses, recent destinations, points of interest, points on the map and more.
  • “Recalculate original”
  • “Avoid part of route”

TomTom GO 720 Bluetooth for hands free cell phone use

The Bluetooth for hands free cell phone use features seem well thought out, but the sound quality of your voice transmitted through the 720’s microphone is no better, and perhaps a little worse, than other units I’ve tried.

The 720 connected easily to my wife’s Motorola V325i and downloaded the contact list, but failed to connect with my LG VX8300.

TomTom GO 720 audio features

The TomTom GO 720 incorporates an FM transmitter that can send music, directions or phone calls to your car stereo speakers. It also has an MP 3 player and can control your iPod. MP3 transfer is greatly simplified using TomTom HOME software. There are several ways to change the volume level, which can also be tied to ambient noise levels.

TomTom GO 720 Map Share

I enjoyed using the Map Share feature. It has a well thought out interface that allows you to mark locations to change once you are home. The direction of a one-way street in my town was recently changed, so I got to make that correction. The process was easy and intuitive.

Other TomTom GO 720 strengths

  • The status bar on the map screen can be customized to show your choice of ten options including remaining time, remaining distance, current time, arrival time, speed and maximum speed.
  • The “Help me” feature enables quick contact with emergency services.
  • A light sensor provides automatic dimming under dense canopy or heavy cloud cover.
  • I like the mounting system, which just requires direct pressure to get the windshield suction cup attached; there is no cam lever involved.

TomTom GO 720 weaknesses

  • The TMC traffic receiver I tested would never connect. I understand that TomTom has had problems with these and that a new receiver works better, though I do not know if it is available in the U.S. yet.
  • I had a few problems with TomTom HOME, and was never able to successfully update to the newest release. However, the older version worked fine on Windows Vista for me, and I was able to download updates, Map Share changes, etc.
  • I received no owners manual with the test unit, nor is there a U.S. version on the website. Fortunately the U.K. version of the TomTom GO 720 owners manual is a big help.

Conclusion

I liked the TomTom GO 720 enough that I may have to update my auto GPS recommendations. Bottom line…if you want something drop dead easy, get a Garmin nuvi. If you want an intuitive interface and lots of options, the TomTom GO 720 is a great choice (though if you need live traffic info, be aware of the issue with their TMC receivers).



More TomTom GO 720 reviews

I’ll be posting more hands on GPS reviews as they appear, but in the meantime, here are some…


Other TomTom GO 720 resources


Compare prices on the TomTom GO 720 at these merchants:

 

About Rich Owings

Rich is the owner, editor and chief bottle-washer for GPS Tracklog. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook or Google Plus.

Comments

  1. Thanks for compiling these. I can’t wait to check out Map Share – wild stuff.

  2. Arthur Turner says:

    I bought a new 720 and it doesn’t have MP3
    player!!!

  3. That’s bizarre. TomTom claims they do and mine did. I’d take it back or call support. You don’t see “Music and media” in the main menu?

  4. Hey this is a great site and I will definitly refer this site to my dad who might look at one. I am the author of Your World Wired at http://www.yourworldwired.com and I’m really happy you picked my article to be on there. I am currently writing about another one in the next week. You should really consider getting a true domain for this blog as it has huge potential. You should also become a technorati member. Hope to hear from you soon.

  5. Thanks Rohan. I actually own the domain gpstracklog.com, but Technorati couldn’t find it, so I switched back to the Typepad subdomain. How stupid was that?! GPSTracklog.com redirects here, but I’m way too far down the road to switch now.
    Glad you like the site. Please keep me posted about any reviews you write.

  6. I have a GPS laptop receiver and an iPod and now i can’t live without these devices! They are real miracles! Thank you for the great post!

  7. I have a TomTom 720- the previous model and it works with my 8310 with the Bluetooth speaker phone.

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