TomTom GO 950 GPS unit
TomTom's current premium GPS device is the GO 950, a svelte, professional-looking unit
- Ease of use, simple and effective UI, responsive touch screen, world maps included, voice control, EPT technology
- No traffic capabilities, voice control is hit and miss, rerouting is a little sluggish
TomTom's GO 950 is ideal for frequent travellers, as it includes many international maps. If you don't require the extra maps, the GO 750 will do the same job (though it doesn't include EPT). That being said, this remains an excellent GPS unit that provides a pleasant navigational experience.
Price$ 649.00 (AUD)
TomTom's GO 950 is the company's current premium GPS device. It's a svelte unit that has the features appropriate to its premium price tag. Boasting maps of Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and 49 European countries, the TomTom GO 950 GPS unit is ideal for frequent business travellers. It is one of the TomTom GPS units to feature voice control.
The TomTom GO 950 is a very similar looking GPS unit to the lower priced GO 750 but features a black finish instead of a silver case. The key features remain the same as all TomTom units — an interface that’s controlled by a finger-operated touch screen and a single button on top for power.
The TomTom GO 950 doesn't have the EasyPort mount used in cheaper models, but its "active dock" is just as convenient. The locking mechanism is strong, it's easy to use with one hand and there is a built-in power connector via a standard mini-USB port. One limitation of the active dock's integrated power is the fact that you can't charge the GO 950 without it.
The look and feel of TomTom GO 950's user interface is similar to previous GO units. The simple main menu consists of three pages including 'Navigate to', 'Help me!' and preferences. The TomTom user interface is clean, minimalist and very effective, making the device easy to use.
A new feature to the GO range is voice control, which allows users to access core functions of the TomTom GO 950 by speaking. There are more than 140 commands available; in addition to navigating to an address you can also avoid a roadblock, zoom in and out of the map, increase the volume, read traffic info aloud and add a location to your favourites. The voice command function is available by tapping the large microphone button on the home screen. Simply tap the button, say a command and the GO 950 will react. Like most voice recognition technology, this implementation is far from perfect; we found it often struggled to understand our commands, and you need to speak relatively closely to the built-in microphone on the unit for it to work.
In addition to a regular address, the TomTom GO 950 GPS unit can navigate to a recent destination, a point of interest (POI), a postcode, a crossing or intersection, a saved favourite, a point on the map or a city centre. For traditional address input you can choose between ABC, QWERTY and AZERTY keyboard layouts, and the large screen makes typing effortless.
Once you've selected a destination, the TomTom GO 950 displays the fastest route available using IQ Routes and allows you to alter it if necessary. On this screen you can avoid a roadblock, calculate an alternative route or travel via a waypoint. The route summary screen is one of the best features of the TomTom UI.
The IQ Routes technology used by TomTom is based on real-life user data rather than the traditional maximum speed method. We found the GO 950 still preferred to calculate routes using main roads rather than backstreets that are often slightly quicker. We also noted that route calculation is a little slower than other TomTom units — the GO 950 can often take up to eight seconds to recalculate a route.
The TomTom GO 950 has text-to-speech technology, which means that it speaks the names of streets as you approach them. The unit tends to struggle with longer street names and can only speak them using its UK and US voices (there is an Australian voice but this doesn't announce street names). The voice is loud and clear and the GO 950's speaker is one of the loudest we've heard on a GPS unit.
Unfortunately, traffic capabilities are not available on either the GO 950 or 750 units, though TomTom says it's currently "investigating its future feasibility for the Australian market." Bluetooth hands-free capabilities are included and this function has improved compared to previous models, with a louder speaker and better range for the microphone. You'll still get better sound quality from a dedicated Bluetooth speakerphone, however. The GO 950 is also the only model in the current TomTom range to feature Enhanced Positioning Technology (EPT). This means it will continue to offer directions in tunnels or other places where the GPS signal drops out.
Advanced lane guidance, fixed speed and red light camera alerts, school zone warnings and an over-speed alert are all part of the package. Lane guidance is very useful on freeways and motorways — an icon on the map screen highlights which lane you should be in, depending on your destination. At busy highway junctions this is enhanced by arrows indicating the lane direction combined with a static image of road signs. The signs are the same colour as the ones displayed on the road, in order to minimise confusion.
The GO 950 also includes TomTom's Map Share and the 'Help Me!' safety portal. In addition to corrections and improvements to the maps being uploaded every month by other TomTom users, Map Share allows you to make adjustments to maps through the unit itself. Users can add their own POIs, update road changes, edit phone numbers and add new streets. You can then share this information with other TomTom users, uploading the changes via the included TomTom HOME software. The Help Me! safety function displays information and allows you to navigate (either by car or on foot) to a multitude of services including police stations, hospitals, mechanics, public transport and pharmacies. It also has first aid, traffic regulation, and repair and maintenance guides.
Battery life is rated at up to three hours. TomTom doesn't include an AC charger in the sales package, so you'll need to use the cigarette lighter adapter or the included USB dock.
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