The Bottom Line: The Tom Tom 920T is probably the best GPS on the market with loads of features, easy to use functionality, and a great look.
In my day to day life, I drive somewhere in the neighborhood of 100-200 miles, probably 6 days each week. I am constantly on the road and because of that, I truly rely on my ability to get around. I have used maps, gone through probably 6 different GPS systems, all in the name of finding my way to any of my numerous daily destinations.
Of all of the products that I have tried in the past to help me with navigating through my day, some have failed horribly, others have gotten me to where I needed to be for the most part with little help, and only a couple have actually helped me a great deal. One of the best of the mix has been the Tom Tom line of products. It doesn't matter which Tom Tom I have used, I have been impressed with it, most specifically the Tom Tom Go 920T GPS Receiver.
My Alaska Journey When I was purchasing a GPS unit back in June I had to make a decision on what to purchase and it had to be a good one because I was going to be driving from the state of Alaska all the way to Florida. This meant that I was going to be going through areas that many street maps just didn't have listed, most importantly the Yukon Territory of Canada. After trying out several different units, I decided upon the Tom Tom.
The actual drive was about 4900 miles in total and I found that in the drive, I was able to find my way perfectly the entire trip. I never had any areas where I was worried that it was taking me somewhere that I didn't need to be. I never once had to consult a street map, and I never once doubted anything that the Tom Tom told me to do. I was able to work around traffic problems, I was able to avoid major weather issues, and I avoided all of the construction through Canada. The Tom Tom truly made my drive completely care free and I was able to avoid a lot of the annoyances that you would normally experience during summer driving, such as construction and other traffic jams.
I figure if a navigation system is good enough to get me through 4900 miles of driving through some of the most isolated areas of the world, then I can definitely count on it to get me around anywhere else in the country. It truly did help me to find what I needed to find, including places to eat, I found public restrooms, state parks so that I could stop for pictures, and I was even able to find shopping areas so that I could pick up gifts along the way. Without the Tom Tom I would have missed out on a lot of truly interesting places that I only found out about because of the points of interest option.
Functionality The Tom Tom products are already some of the most feature advanced GPS systems currently on the market, however the 920T takes it a step further. With this GPS you have the ability to run your show from the road as if you had access to a computer right in front of you.
Rather than talking about all of the features and functions that every GPS system has, I figure it would be more useful to talk about the features that I truly find to be exceptional.
One of my favorite aspects of the GPS is that you are able to look up a variety of different destinations, such as restaurants, shopping centers, hotels, ATM machines, gas stations, parks, and much more. The great thing about this is that you are able to look them up without having to know the name of what you are looking for. You can either do a name search or you can just look to see what is close to you or along your route. If you know that you are going to want to stop for lunch in a town about an hour away, then you can plan ahead and set that up on your route. Another nice feature about this is that you are able to have these items displayed as you drive by them. For example, you want it to show all gas stations, well it will show you all the gas stations as you approach them. This is very useful if you are traveling across country and you really don't know the area all that well in a city.
Another great feature is that you are able to store destinations for later with custom names on them. So if you travel to your office a lot, then you would simply add your office to your store locations and then the next time that you want to go to your office, you simply click on your office in the menu and it will pull up the directions to get you there with only a few pushes on the screen.
One thing that I notice that is truly different about the Tom Tom that makes it a lot of fun is that you are able to select a variety of different voices to give you the directions if you want the sound on. For example, I have Mr. T, you can also choose John Cleese, and a variety of other ones as well. They are constantly adding new voices to the mix, so you can easily go to their website and download new voices for a minimal fee.
The device also allows for bluetooth hookup. If you have that technology on your phone, then you can set it up with your Tom Tom to sync and you will hear your phone through your Tom Tom. It is sounds great and works very well with all of the applications that I have tried it with, both my Razr and with my other Motorola phone that I don't know the series of off the top of my head.
Other cool features include the ability to put in a time that you would like to be somewhere and it will tell you if you are currently running late and how late you are currently running. It will tell you how fast you are going, if you are speeding for that particular area, and it will also tell you the time remaining to your destination in addition to the distance as well as the distance to your next turn.
You are also able to share documents between your Tom Tom and other bluetooth devices. If you want to read the news on your Tom Tom, you can do that, you can view files, photos, and a variety of other things. You can also use your Tom Tom to listen to music, including FM stations. The device even allows you to connect an SD card so that you can listen to your favorite MP3s through the device either out loud or through the use of headphones that you can plug directly into the device.
A nice new feature about this particular Tom Tom is that you no longer have to hand input the address, you can simply announce the address that you want to go to and it will take you there. This of course was a feature added to address those that are entering addresses while they are driving. This is a huge safety feature that I use personally on a regular basis. There are some issues with it pulling up the correct address but for the most part it works great. It does have difficulties with people that have heavy accents, but it should work great for the majority of the population, even those that have slight accents.
Probably my favorite feature is the ability to view your route in a variety of different ways. You can have the Tom Tom actually run the route at a variety of different speeds that you select so that you know what to expect. You can also see it as text so that you can see what roads you will be on and for how long. This is great if you know about certain areas that have issues and you want to know if you need to avoid them or not with the current directions. You can also add in shortcuts that you know of in order to avoid certain problem areas.
The best part about the Tom Tom however has to be the extra features. With Tom Tom Plus you are able to do some things that none of the other companies offer. Some of these features include live weather alerts, traffic alerts which allows you to see issues that are coming ahead and gives you the option to avoid them rather than attempting to go through the problem areas, and of course the locations of safety and traffic cameras so that you know which areas that you need to be most careful in to avoid getting tickets. But the absolute coolest feature of all is the ability to add your friends to the GPS so that you know when you are near your friends when they are out and about. This is a cool feature because if you are getting ready to go out to eat and notice that you have a good friend of yours nearby you can call them up and see what they are doing for lunch. I personally use this feature all of the time with my business contacts and have had a lot of additional business because of this feature.
Ease of use I would have to say that the Tom Tom products, especially the 920T are the easiest of all of the navigations to use. I personally have owned around 5-6 navigation units myself and have used probably another 10 while driving different company vehicles equipped with different units. In that time, I have found that the Tom Tom is BY FAR the most user friendly. It is so easy that you can simply plug it in and go. You really don't have to worry about reading the instruction manual because it is so simple to use straight out of the box. Everything is done in such a logical manner that you really shouldn't have any issues with the product at all, even from the first day. However, there is so much that the product does that it is definitely in your best interest to read the instruction manual and see what it can really do for you with a little extra knowledge.
Quality of Navigation Probably the most important aspect of the navigation unit is how up to date it is. This of course is something that I have noticed a major difference between units on. The Tom Toms I have found are the most up to date and typically have even the newest of sub divisions included. The major issue that I have run into with most units, specifically the Garmin is that they lack a lot of the newer roads in an area or they provide directions close to an area but they aren't quite right, specifically the distances to a specific area, so it makes it a little more difficult to find that area in general.
Another great thing is that the Tom Tom has so many points of interest loaded that you can navigate to that makes it perfect for anyone that travels a lot like myself. I personally use this feature each and every day that I am on the road to find an area that I can eat, locate an ATM, or simply to find a gas station that accepts my fleet card.
Appearance While I personally don't feel that appearance is all that important when it comes to a navigation system, especially since the reality is that you are using it purely for the sake of navigation, some people do. The Tom Tom is definitely one of the most attractive units on the market in my personal opinion. It comes with a silver casing, with black trim on the face. I think it looks great in my vehicle and I haven't had an issue where I ever felt that it looked out of place.
Setup The unit comes with a map for the United States, Canada, and Europe. This is all stored on a 4 GB internal memory system. The nice thing about the installed maps is that you can still use the GPS even when you are in areas where the GPS doesn't get a signal. So for example if you enter a tunnel you aren't going to lose your ability to navigate, although that is typically only for a very short period of time anyway.
The unit comes with a car adapter, which can be unplugged and the unit can then be run off of a battery. Unfortunately due to all of the functionality of the unit, the battery life is relatively low, typically I find it is only good for a few hours. However, the unit charges quickly so you can plug it in for about a half hour to an hour and then unplug it again if you desire. I have found that the majority of those that have these units choose to have them hardwired to their car battery so that they don't have to worry about plugging them in at all. This is generally done for about $30-$50 at any mobile electronics store. Some locations such as Circuit City or Best Buy will allow you to have it hard wired for free with the purchase of the unit at their location. Check around for pricing if this is what you wish to do.
Final Thoughts If you have any desire to purchase a navigation system for any reason, this is definitely the unit that you should get. It provides a great deal of features that the other companies just don't offer with their units. They also have some of the best support, easy to use units, and they are just more up to date than any of the other units that I have used in the past, with the full capability of upgrading them as you need to.
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About the reviewer
Clacky McSnackins (alaskacobalt)
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The slim and stylish TomTom GO 920 is TomTom’s most robustly featured GPS device ever released. With revolutionary voice address input you can enter a destination by simply speaking the address and the GO 920 will do the rest! The widescreen 4.3 inch touch screen makes it easy to view directions, even in direct sunlight and with fast and accurate re-routing you can take a quick short cut and the 920 will recalculate your directions on the fly.