Advertisement

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Advertisement

TomTom Go Discover review: TomTom’s greatest satnav yet?

21 May 2021
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
229
inc VAT

For our money, this is TomTom’s best ever satnav, though it’s still on the pricey side

Pros 
Easy to use
Lifetime traffic and maps
Strong live features
Effective guidance
Cons 
Expensive
Hit and miss voice controls
Some live features tied to a subscription
Advertisement

New satnav launches are getting few and far between, and it’s easy to understand why. More and more cars are shipping with built-in navigation systems and integrated touchscreen displays. What’s more, today’s big-screen smartphones make excellent satnavs, with a choice of apps and add-on services, and large, sensitive, high-resolution screens.

Yet there’s still something to be said for the old school satnav; for having something purpose-built to do one job and do it well, with a reliable GPS and compass. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s ever headed out in the wrong direction because their smartphone compass was playing up, and while no satnav I’ve used or tested has been 100% reliable, it’s still pretty rare for this kind of thing to happen.

With its new Go Discover range, TomTom is coming out with all guns blazing. It comes in three sizes – 5in, 6in and the 7in reviewed here – with higher-resolution screens on the larger models, and TomTom’s latest software and maps built in. And where some recent TomToms have left us feeling frustrated with their slow UIs, poor image quality and unresponsive touchscreens, the Go Discover is a huge improvement. It looks, feels and performs as you would expect a modern satnav to do.

READ NEXT: Our pick of the best car phone holders

TomTom Go Discover review: What do you get for the money?

All three sizes are based around the same basic spec, with 2GB of RAM, 32GB of storage and built-in dual-band WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity. You can use the former for speedy map updates and the latter to connect to your phone for TomTom’s live services.

The biggest difference between the three, bar the screen size, is the resolution of each display. Buy the 5in version and you’re stuck at 854 x 480 pixels, but move up to the 6in variant and you’re looking at a more reasonable HD 1,280 x 720. Buy the high-end, 7in Go Discover, and you get a 1,280 x 800 resolution screen. It’s still not crystal-clear or sharp by smartphone standards, but it’s bright, with excellent contrast and an effective anti-reflection coating. For turn-by-turn instructions, maps and making selections, it’s one of the best satnav screens I’ve used.

TomTom bundles in a 1.5m USB cable with a right-angled micro-USB plug at one end, along with a 12v socket adapter and a nice and hefty suction cup mount. The latter attaches firmly to the windscreen or dashboard and accepts the micro-USB connection, and once in place the Go Discover clicks into position with a very solid magnetic grip. If anything, it’s a little too solid – you need to put a bit of oomph in to get the satnav disengaged so you can stow it elsewhere – but you definitely won’t have to worry about your satnav shifting position or falling into the cockpit while you’re driving.

Of course, you’re not just paying for the hardware, but for TomTom’s maps and live services. You get lifetime UK and Europe map updates and live traffic updates through your smartphone, plus one year of live speed cameras, fuel price updates and off-street parking info. It’s a slight shame you don’t get everything bundled in for life, but the extras are more nice-to-haves than must-haves, so it’s far from a dealbreaker.

TomTom Go Discover review: How easy is it to use?

TomTom has been doing this stuff for a long time, and it shows. Setup is simple, with a First Run Wizard that takes you through connecting to Wi-Fi, connecting to your smartphone and setting up your preferences.

Once you’re up and running, you can use the Search box to look for an address or postcode, a town or some other point of interest, or tap a button to find nearby parking, petrol stations, restaurants or pubs and cafes. A further tap on the options button gives you other categories, including hotels, shopping centres, cashpoints and tourist attractions. If the point of the Go Discover is to help you discover what’s around you, then it does a great job. Not that I’ve had the chance to find out, but it’s the kind of satnav that you’d like to have with you on holiday.

Select a destination and you’ll get a choice of routes, with distances and estimated times of arrival, and once you’ve made your choice the Go Discover will take you turn-by-turn all the way, complete with a sidebar on the right-hand side that displays petrol stations and parking or allows you to add a quick food stop if you’re feeling peckish.

It’s all very simple and intuitive, and you only have to dive into the Settings menu to tweak how TomTom selects your routes (for, say, the fastest or the most fuel-efficient), or to tell it to avoid ferries, unpaved roads or motorways. Our only complaint is that you’re only given a couple of seconds between the screen displaying your route options and the first-choice route being selected automatically. In most cases, I was only just working out which roads were being used when TomTom decided to make my mind up for me.

TomTom Go Discover review: How well does it perform?

TomTom’s experience also shows in how well this satnav generally works and performs. Step-by-step guidance is clear and timely, even with some of the confusing layouts and sudden sharp corners you get in my rural neck of the woods. Head into town or hit the A roads and well-pronounced street names and accurate lane guidance are a big help in following the route and making sure that you haven’t wandered off by mistake. It’s not that TomTom’s mapping instructions are perfect – there’s still the occasional “bear right” that’s really a “turn right”, and on one trip it wouldn’t recognise a postcode – but the Go Discover feels solid and dependable, which is what you really want. Just as importantly, it feels snappy, without annoying pauses or input lag.

Your mileage may vary with some of the more advanced features. Live traffic info seems more accurate and useful when driving in or near big towns than when you’re driving along country roads, while the 3D buildings feature is probably brilliant in Manchester or London, but not such a big deal where I live in the sleepy South West, where barely any buildings seem to have had the 3D treatment. This isn’t a huge issue if, like me, you rely primarily on voice guidance and leave map watching to whoever’s in the passenger seat. 3D buildings or no 3D buildings, the visuals are still clear and easy to follow, which is what’s really important.

TomTom Go Discover review: What could be improved?

TomTom’s voice commands have always been a little hit and miss for me, and that hasn’t changed with the Go Discover. Simple things such as “Turn the volume up” or “What’s the next instruction?” seem to work fine, but others like “Go to a city centre” or “Go to a petrol station” sometimes took three or four goes to get recognised, and the latter didn’t even pull up any nearby petrol stations even though I could find them through a normal search on the map, complete with current fuel prices.

You’re also dealing with a much smaller set of commands than you’ll get with Google Assistant, Alexa or Siri, not to mention a limited set of destinations; it will pick out town and city centres, but you’ll have to select other destinations from a list. If you prefer to control your satnav using voice, then using a smartphone arguably makes more sense, even if you’re hostage to your cellular connection to make use of all the functions and keep yourself on track.

READ NEXT: Take a look at our favourite GoPros

TomTom Go Discover review: Should I buy it?

If you’re looking for a new satnav, then the Go Discover is one of the best, especially in its 6in and 7in versions. The 7in has a great screen, clear sound and a simple but effective UI. It’s speedy and responsive, and both the voice instructions and the visual maps are nice and clear. It focuses on making a great job of the basics and piling useful services on top, which, to my mind, makes it a better option than TomTom’s old flagship satnav, the Sat Nav Go Premium.

However, it’s up against some stiff competition, not only from your smartphone but from Garmin’s excellent DriveSmart 65. I don’t have the DriveSmart here for direct comparisons, but where the TomTom has a slightly better, higher-resolution screen, the Garmin is a great all-rounder and cheaper at just £200. If you prefer TomTom’s UI and instructions, then the Go Discover is arguably worth the extra, but if you’re simply looking for a great satnav, the Garmin edges just ahead on price.

Read more

Reviews