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TomTom Start UK & Ireland review

Verdict:

An easy-to-use satnav, but a touch overpriced given the features on offer.

Review Date: 18 Jan 2010

Price when reviewed: £100

Buy it now for: £88
(see more store prices)

Supplier: http://www.tomtom.com

Reviewed By: Jim Martin

Our Rating 3 stars out of 5

User Rating 4 stars out of 5

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At £120, the brand-new Start is TomTom's cheapest satnav. However, this is still fairly expensive compared to the least expensive satnavs available, so we were intrigued to see whether it was worth the money.

The Start is aimed at those new to satnavs, and has a simplified interface which makes it a lot easier to use than previous models. When you turn it on, you're presented with two choices: Plan route or Browse map. The lower third of the screen has a subtle menu including options for muting sound, switching between day and night mode, help and options.

Options are kept to a single screen and include changing the voice, setting favourite destinations and applying map corrections. An advanced button takes you to a further screen of options where you can set preferences, switch maps and disable safety alerts.

There's no doubt it's easy to use, but there's a little room for improvement. Due to the small 3.5in screen and its very low 320 x 240-pixel resolution, it isn't possible to fit the whole keyboard on screen at once. This means switching between letters and numbers to enter a postcode. Annoyingly, the key to do this then changes position when you switch.

There are a surprising number of features packed into this tiny satnav. You get IQ routes, which calculates the optimum route based on the time and day of travel, plus safety camera and speeding alerts and Map Share correction capabilities. A help menu is provided to guide you to numerous handy locations like a local repair garage, hospital or pharmacy – either by car or on foot.

Some features were bound to be missing at this price, so it's not too surprising that motorway lane guidance and traffic information is absent. Of course, there are no mobile data services either – as seen on the more expensive TomTom models – so you won't find Google local search, petrol prices or real-time traffic updates.

The other casualty is processing power. We don't usually mention our timings in satnav reviews, as almost every model we test can plan a route from London to Edinburgh in around 20 seconds. Not the Start, though: it took well over 90 seconds. However, when driving, the screen updated quickly and driving directions were timely, loud and clear. Rerouting was also snappy when we took a wrong turn.

The Start can be personalised with coloured plastic bezels which replace the standard black one, but these cover only the sides and back. You can also customise the startup and shutdown screens, plus it's easy to buy new navigation voices through TomTom's Home software.

Overall, the Start is a good satnav, but it's a shame the screen is so small. Other budget satnavs are better value – Navman's S30 3D has similar capabilities, yet costs just £65.

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