Price: $370 - $399. Cellular network connectivity: First three months free, then $9.95 per month.
- State-of-the-art navigation and lane guidance.
- Suite of connected features.
- Best-in-class windshield mount.
- "Network effect" traffic detection and avoidance.
- $9.95 per month for connectivity.
- No Web browser.
TomTom GO 740 Live a Solid Entry in Connected GPS
The race is on to add connected services such as local search, accurate real-time traffic detection and avoidance, fuel prices, more frequent map updates, and more to in-car portable GPS devices. TomTom has a very strong entry in this category with the GO 740 LIVE. The GO 740 links to real-time data via a built-in cellular connection. Previous TomTom models connected to real-time data via a Bluetooth-linked phone or a dedicated traffic data antenna.
This means the GO 740 is automatically and always connected as you drive, monitoring traffic, and ready to pull down any information you seek from the menu system.
TomTom also recognizes that hands-free GPS operation helps drivers concentrate on driving, so the company continues to upgrade voice recognition capability. The GO 740 has the largest set of voice commands offered by TomTom to date.
Beyond the high-profile connectivity features, the GO 740 is also a very solid navigation device, with lane guidance, and best-in-class route preview capability.
Detecting and avoiding traffic are two of the main reasons why buyers seek a connected GPS. TomTom tackles the traffic challenge with updates every two minutes from a commercial traffic monitoring service, but also by using data from other connected TomTom devices out on the highway. TomTom introduced this "network effect" traffic detection it calls "HD Traffic" in Europe first, and is rolling it out in the U.S. with the introduction of the GO 740. HD Traffic has the potential to provide very accurate real-time traffic data if and when enough connected TomToms are out on the road. During my test drives, the GO 740 usually detected significant backups, and quickly calculated good alternate routes.
I've found fuel prices to be among the most useful connected-GPS features, and the GO 740 doesn't disappoint. You may search for fuel prices by grade and type (including diesel) and by cheapest on route, cheapest nearby, cheapest in area, and by distance and price. TomTom subscribes to a service that anonymously pulls fuel price data from the charge card data stream, so it is often accurate, and TomTom estimates the feature can save you $40 per year. I don't doubt that stat, because I could consistently save five cents or more per gallon.
The ability to use Google Local Search is a new feature for TomTom. There is no Web browser in the GO 740. The device uses a menu system including search "near you," "search in city," "near destination," and "near another location."
A "near you" search for "pizza," for example, lists pizzerias in order by distance from your current location. Select a restaurant and the GPS shows the business location on a map and the phone number, and a "details" button shows additional information, such as parking, types of payment accepted, and a star rating. You may also select any destination found via Google Local Search and choose to navigate to it, show on a map, or add as a favorite. Overall, Google Local Search is a powerful and up-to-date addition to the already deep points-of-interest database TomTom includes with its car GPS devices.
Finally, the "Weather" connected service gives you the option of of a weather report at current location, destination, and more, and shows current weather, plus a four-day forward forecast.
Powerful Navigation and Voice Recognition Features
Beneath all of the connected services goodies, the GO 740 provides outstanding route planning and navigation features. TomTom's route preview is the best in the business, presenting an overview of the entire route after you select a destination, then offering plenty of options if you want an alternate route.
The GO 740 Live also includes one of my favorite TomTom features, "Advanced Lane Guidance." If you travel busy, multi-lane highways, especially in unfamiliar territory, you'll really appreciate the way the GO 740 instructs you on which lane to be in for your next turn, distance to your turn, and then, as you approach your exit, a visual representation of the actual exit and its signage.
A number of high-end car GPS devices have offered voice recognition, but the GO 740 includes the biggest "vocabulary" yet for TomTom car GPS, including more than 130 commands, such as "volume up (and down)," "clear route," and "navigate to nearest ATM." TomTom thoughtfully provides a business card-sized cheat sheet for the most-used commands. In my road tests, the voice recognition worked well, and was useful for commands I use often, such as "clear route" and volume adjustments.
The list of additional features is a long one (see next page), including handsfree calling via a Bluetooth connection to your phone, and text-to-speech directions. The GO 740 also includes the best windshield mount I've ever tried.
Overall, the GO 740 Live is a terrific tool for the road warrior who wants a state-of-the-art GPS and is willing to spend $9.95 per month for real-time connectivity.