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July 14, 2008

TomTom GO 920T Review

GPSmagazine Rating: 3.5 of 5
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25. Pros

  • Gorgeous looking hardware design
  • Good documentation
  • Strong FM transmitter
  • Ships pre-loaded with both North American and European maps
  • Includes RDS-TMC traffic receiver. Able to receive traffic information in Europe and North America right out of the box. Includes 1 year of service
  • Map screen is highly customizable, and can be configured to suit your own preferences (including color scheme, vehicle icon, and how much/little information is displayed on the map screen).
  • Enhanced Positioning Technology (EPT) works well
  • Ability to enter a desired arrival time, and see a running counter of how early or late you will arrive at your destination
  • Good international support
  • Fast and smooth map scrolling
  • Tons of configurable preferences
  • Good routing options (fastest time, shortest distance, walking, bicycle)
  • Latest Map Guarantee ensures most current maps at time of purchase
  • High performance SiRF Star III (with InstantFix) GPS receiver

26. Cons

  • Voice recognition didn't work reliably, and only supported a limited number of functions. It's not possible to fully enter a destination without using the on-screen controls. Numbers need to be spoken one at a time (i.e. "three", "five" instead of "thirty five"). Can't use voice to dial a phone number, send an SMS, or route to a saved address from the address book
  • Screen not as bright as other GPS units
  • Buggy TomTom HOME desktop software
  • No redundant city labeling
  • Poor text-to-speech quality compared to other GPS units. Can be hard to understand. U.S. names sometimes announced with a "European flare"
  • Menu button to cancel the current route is buried three menus deep - annoying while driving
  • Voice input support limited to address entry and responding to basic on-screen prompts. Many functions can not be performed using voice input
  • Included remote control must be paired to the GO 920T before it can be used
  • Poor Bluetooth support
  • Noticed occasional "GPS drift"
  • No way to sort itinerary of addresses by distance (i.e. you can't enter a bunch of addresses and have the GPS sort them in order of closeness)
  • No way to search across multiple States. Can be problematic of your destination is close to the border of two States and you're not sure which State your destination is located in
  • Routing engine not as good as Garmin or Magellan
  • Use of TomTom's services (such as traffic, weather, gas prices, etc.) requires a compatible Bluetooth cell phone
  • Seemingly endless lists of menus and options can be overwhelming and confusing at first. Might be difficult for first-time GPS users
  • Some text-to-speech oddities. For example, when announcing highway names, the GPS says "highway six-hundred-and-eighty-four" instead of "six-eighty-four"
  • TMC Traffic Receiver cable is not long enough if the GO 920T is mounted in the center of the windshield

27. Conclusion

 

TomTom makes great looking GPS devices, and the GO 920T is no exception. The elegant device is constructed of high quality matt plastic and brushed metal. The case doesn't pickup fingerprints easily, and everything about the GO 920's physical appearance oozes refined elegant styling.

The included windshield mount is easy to use, and holds the GPS securely in place when driving. The windshield mount isn't powered, so you'll need to connect the power and traffic receiver cables to the GO 920T when docking or undocking the GPS from the windshield mount.

There's much to like about TomTom's GO 920T, but perhaps the most significant features are Map Share and Map Corrections. Unlike traditional GPS devices where it can take years to correct mapping errors, the GO 920T lets drivers correct mapping errors directly on the device, and then share those corrections with other TomTom drivers via TomTom's Map Share program. TomTom estimates that a typical 1 hour trip will be influenced by more than 20 corrections. The GO 920T can automatically download mapping corrections each time it is docked to a computer running TomTom's HOME software (included). Map Share is free, and represents a significant and continuous improvement to the quality of TomTom's maps.

The GO 920T is one of the few GPS units in its price class to come with maps of both North America and Europe. International buyers will also appreciate the device's extensive list of supported languages.

I was also impressed with the GO 920T's strong internal FM transmitter, loads of customization options, and Enhanced Positioning Technology (EPT) that lets the device continue tracking your position even during brief GPS signal outages, such as when driving through a tunnel.

However, it's not all good news for the GO 920T. The speech recognition features of the GO 920T feel clumsily and incomplete. Accuracy is inconsistent, and it still isn't possible to operate the device using voice commands alone. Only a limited number of voice commands are supported, and you'll still need to touch the screen to complete the address entry. Most of the time it's just easier and faster to use the touch-screen controls rather than voice commands.

The GO 920T's screen isn't as bright as it should be, and TomTom's HOME software is so buggy I had to uninstall it in order to restore my PC to a functioning state. Bluetooth support is very poor, and TomTom's routing engine isn't as strong as Garmin's or Magellan's.

Also disappointing is the GO 920T's reliance on Bluetooth for TomTom's Services; you'll need to pair a compatible Bluetooth enabled cell phone with the GO 920T in order to make use of services like "Weather" and "Fuel Prices".

TomTom's map screen can appear cluttered to some drivers, though it is possible to customize the map screen to suit your own personal taste.

The GO 920T isn't as easy to use as some other GPS devices, and all the options can be overwhelming at first. Still, the GO 920T's North American and European maps, included traffic receiver, and long list of features make this a solid performer that's competitively priced.

I had the good fortune of reviewing the TomTom GO 930 before the GO 920T. Having already taken an in-depth look at the newer GO 930, it quickly became obvious that the GO 920T is virtually identical to the GO 930 in every way, save the IQ Routes and Advanced Lane Guidance, neither of which are fully developed or particularly worth while (yet).

However, unlike the GO 930, the GO 920T includes a traffic receiver (a $100 value), and is able to receive traffic information right out of the box without any additional hardware. Given the GO 920T's current pricing, and taking into consideration the fact that the traffic receiver is of more value to drivers than the GO 930's still imperfect IQ Routes or Advanced Lane Guidance, the GO 920T is a better bargain, and a smarter buy as of this writing.