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Smartphones these days have increasingly large screens, sophisticated mapping systems and a wide selection of accessories for attaching them to your car windscreen. All of which means it’s becoming hard to see the point of standalone GPS units these days.
Still, Dutch navigation giant TomTom doesn’t seem to have given up on the market and when the Go Live 1005 dropped onto our desks, we decided to see if there’s still a place for these devices.
The 1005 is, well, a navigation device that features a 5-inch screen, a click-mount for attaching it to your car windscreen, Bluetooth for hands free calling, space for a microSD card and not much else really.
The big draw card though isn’t what the 1005 offers physically, but the services that come with it. These include world maps, HD Traffic and LIVE services. The latter of these is TomTom’s bid to tackle the threat of Google’s mobile navigation efforts head on.
Here’s the thing though, it needs a lot more than that to realistically take on the smartphone usurpers and avoid obsolescence.
The last of a breed?
While the 1005 is streets ahead of where earlier GPS devices were (the touch doesn’t leave you screaming obscenities for one thing), I still can’t help but feel that it’s missed a few tricks along the way.
Take the USB/power connector for instance. Yes it’s magnetic (very Apple), but it’s not micro-USB, which means that if you lose it, you have to buy a new one, rather than just replacing it with a cable you have lying around the house from a long-forgotten e-reader, smartphone, wireless speaker set or any number of other electronic gadgets that use micro-USB as their standard. Then again, any Apple devotees who buy the 1005 will be used to having to buy weird cables, so none of that will be of any particular bother to them.
And don’t think you won’t be needing that charging cable either. The 1005 only lasts two hours on battery life alone. That’s not even enough to get you across some particularly big cities.
Of course you could choose to turn it on only from the point at which you need directions — which, for some of us, is the moment we step out the front door — but that entails pulling over and stopping to put the address in, which means you might as well be using a map. Unless you use the hands free navigation. Except…
Hands Free? Sort of
There was no way I could get the hand free navigation to be completely hands free from the moment I turned the 1005 on. Everything I tried entailed using the touch screen to navigate through to a point where I could shout out the address (to be fair operating most voice recognition systems is still like dealing with an elderly person who refuses to admit they’re going deaf).
Compare that with the kind of hands free navigation you can do on most smartphones. Once unlocked, it’s fairly easy to get any Android device (provided it has Google Now on it) to navigate you to your destination without ever touching it.
The other hands-free function you get with the TomTom, as I’ve already noted, allows you to connect your phone to it via Bluetooth and, from there, to make and receive phone calls. That works fine, but once again, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to see the point.
Plenty of cars, even in the lower market segments have the same feature as standard now. And if your car doesn’t, I’d like to once again point you to the fact that you can get a windscreen mount for your car. Don’t think that society’s shadier elements are any less likely to reach into your car and steal a TomTom either. I can tell you from personal experience that a hijacker will be quite happy to relieve you of whatever GPS unit you happen to have on you at the time.
Verdict: The Go Live 1005 is a fine peripheral GPS device that shows how far the breed has come over the past few years. Good as it is though, it’ll have a hard time competing with smartphones. And that leaves us wondering how long devices like it will still have a place in our lives.