TomTom Go 550 Live review
Last year, TomTom launched its Go x40 Live satnavs which were the first to include a GPRS radio for near-realtime traffic updates. Since then, a rash of GPS-equipped smartphones have appeared which threaten the standalone satnav's existence. At least that's what people think. However, of the navigation apps we've seen on the iPhone and Android-based handsets, all are more limited in features and less reliable than a standalone device such as the new Go 550 Live.
It's the baby of the x50 Live range, but that doesn't make it any less capable. The main difference between this and the 750 and 950 are the maps it comes with - just the roads of the UK and Ireland. The 750 gets Western Europe (including newly mapped Malta, Turkey and Greece), while the 950 additionally has the US and Canada.
To look at the range, you'd be forgiven for mistaking them for the older x40 Live models, as they look identical. Many of the features are the same too - you still get HD Traffic, live petrol prices, Google Local Search and safety camera alerts.
The screen is also the same, being a 4.3in touchscreen with a resolution of 480x272. There's 1GB of internal memory, plus a microSD slot for adding more. This means you can upgrade to maps that cover a larger area in future, or fill a card with photos for viewing when you're not driving.
Built-in Bluetooth allows you to connect a mobile phone and use the 550 as a hands-free kit. It will even sync contact information with your phone and read text messages aloud. Speech recognition allows you to control the 550 to make calls, plan routes and much more. Its accuracy depends on the ambient noise, but we found it worked well on the whole.
TomTom seems to be resting on its laurels with the x50 range, though. We had to work hard to spot the changes and updates. A new Eco route option is long overdue, and directs you on the most fuel-efficient route. It's combined with IQ Routes, which takes into account historical average speeds rather than posted speed limits to work out the optimum route for the given day and time of travel.
Another update is the address entry screen which is now tabbed and ends in a Live Snapshot screen. This shows a summary of the traffic information, lowest petrol price and number of safety cameras on your journey. The main menus have been improved a little, and there's direct access to the safety camera reporting service. It's worth noting that several features have also disappeared, including iPod control and an FM transmitter.
Out on the road, the Go 550 is identical to previous models - this means it's one of the best navigators around with sensible routing, plus clear and timely directions. Ultimately though, there's nothing here to tempt Go x30 or x40 Live owners to upgrade (especially considering the missing features), but the fact remains that the Go 550 Live is one of the best satnavs you can buy, and it’s slightly cheaper than the Go 540 was originally. If you need European maps, buy the Go 750 Live, which costs just £30 more.
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