As well as using the latest version of the excellent Navigator guidance software and including the latest maps of Australia on its internal memory, there’s a bright 4.3in widescreen and integrated Bluetooth.
This means you can pair your phone with the 720 for “Plus” services such as weather. What’s more, it can also be used for hands-free calling, while incoming text messages can be read aloud using the text-to-speech engine. You can even type text messages on the unit, call contacts from your phone book and copy the entire address book across to the device.
If you have a Bluetooth-enabled car stereo, audio can be routed through that, but for those who don’t there’s also a built-in FM transmitter to do the same job – all you have to do is tune your radio to the frequency you set in the 720’s menu.
However, the (potential) killer feature that makes the Go 720 the king of satnavs is Map Share – the ability to make map corrections via the device itself. You can add new roads, block or unblock streets, change names, reverse traffic directions and add or remove motorway entrances and exits. You can also update Points of Interest, including safety camera locations.
The 720 comes with a USB dock, allowing you to connect it to the TomTom Home software on your PC to upload or download the latest changes. You can choose which updates to download, so you can opt only for TomTom-verified changes or – if you’re more trusting – all updates submitted by other Go 520 or 720 users.
As the number of Map Share users increases, companies who make and update maps should start to worry (web ID 93713) and indeed they are: Map Share is not (yet) available in Australia because the map providers want to protect their monopoly on content. This is a crying shame for Australians as non-metropolitan roads and (especially) POIs from all Australian map providers can be very poor – for example, when testing the 720 in Far North Queensland, hardly any of the few but significant campsites, shops and restaurants were listed. TomTom is currently in negotiations to enable Map Share in Australia, but that’s as far as things have progressed.
In countries with Map Share available, users must buy the latest maps. That means you have to buy a map update from TomTom at least once a year – at a cost of 99 Euros ($160) for the Western Europe map – in order to carry on sharing changes. It means that Tele Atlas and Navteq won’t be putting a Closed sign in their respective doors just yet.
Another useful inclusion is the ‘Help me’ menu button. This includes options to phone for help (phone numbers for emergency services, police stations and hospitals are pre-loaded) and buttons for drive to help, walk to help and a first aid guide provided by the British Red Cross. There’s also a repair and maintenance guide which gives instructions for emergencies like changing a wheel.
An MP3 player and photo viewer crammed in – up to 2GB of photos and music can be loaded using the SD card slot underneath – and a light sensor allows auto brightness control. The icing on the cake is the ability to record your own voice (and then speech recognition for navigating to stored addresses). When using our test child’s voice for navigation, rather than have The Wife tut and fume at the chosen directions, she melted at every command and proved far more forgiving.
Finally, with road names and numbers being clearly read aloud, it amounts to a potentially sensational GPS. However, the current price assumes the inclusion of the unavailable Map Share, and this knocks the value score. At $300 – less the less-featured TomTom One retains its A-List position, but that would change if Map Share were to appear on these shores.
The 720’s features make it a winner. But the high price reflects Map Share: which isn’t available in Australia