We love watching the GPS market grow and improve as new devices showcase surprisingly useful new features. Take, for example, the TomTom Go 720, which includes the company's new Map Share technology for not only marking closed roads and misnamed streets, but also for downloading changes made by others.
We like that the 720 is so sleek and portable (7.8 ounces and less than an inch thick), because you'll need to carry it between your home and car often to get the most of the Map Share features. Despite the slender size, you still get a large, bright 4.3-inch screen.
In general, Map Share worked very well during our tests. To use it, simply choose Map Corrections from TomTom's easy interface and then choose to correct a map error. You can block or unblock a street, reverse traffic direction, edit a street name, add a point of interest (POI), or edit an existing POI. We tried all of these, and the process was a breeze. We were able to show that a local road was closed for construction with only a few clicks. Days later, when the construction was finished, we changed the map back to show that the road was open.
You can also set whether you want to share your corrections or download those made by other TomTom users. To share your changes, you'll need to connect your Go 720 to your computer with the included dock and use the TomTom Home application. TomTom Home runs on Windows (2000/XP/Vista) and Macintosh (OS X 10.3.9 or better) computers, although you won't find the requirements on the packaging. Bizarrely, our enclosed CD didn't offer Mac software, but TomTom reps said this error (which occurred on a number of its CDs) has since been fixed. If you got one of the faulty CDs, go to www.tomtom.com/7445 to download the correct version.
If you set your Go 720 for automatic Map Share updates, they'll download and install when you plug in your device. The software makes transferring songs (MP3) and photos (JPEG or BMP) from your computer to the roughly 500MB of free space easy. But in an odd omission, you can't delete individual songs or photos from your Go 720 with the software; you can delete only entire collections. To delete individual files, you need to open the drive on your desktop and look for the correct folder. The Go 720 can also store text files (TXT), but you can't add them with the software; to add text documents, you need to open the drive and look for the text folder.
The TomTom Home program lets you purchase extras like live traffic service ($29.95 per year with a compatible phone with data plan; $129.95 for the first year if you need a receiver) or updated maps (typically $50 to $100). The Map Share service is free for the life of the product, however, which is a good deal.
Navigation with the Go 720 was pleasant and easy. As with all TomTom-made navigators, the interface is simple, and the maps were clear and bright. The device offered quick rerouting for missed turns and gave clear spoken directions when we drove around northern New Jersey. If you choose one of the 12 computer voices instead of a prerecorded voice (68 human voices are on the CD), it pronounces street names. The Go 720 offers an easy Help option, which lets you quickly phone for help, find your position, or get first aid instructions. It also offers Bluetooth capability and an FM transmitter.
Our only problem with the device is the POI database, which is poorly organized. It doesn't break restaurants up by cuisine, and it's missing major categories, such as grocery stores. TomTom's database offers about three million POI, but given its glaring omissions, it seems smaller than others on the market.
While the device was mostly a pleasure, a little more work would have made it a standout. But despite some quibbles, we still recommend the TomTom Go 720. The only thing better than having maps on hand while driving is having constantly updated maps from other drivers navigating the same area.
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