Toybox: Car navigation a breeze with Bluetooth

TomTom unit delivers a new sense of direction

Over the past week, Toybox has had a new sense of direction. We’ve been out driving, testing the TomTom GO 720 portable navigation system, which also features integrated Bluetooth, an MP3 player and an FM transmitter.

The GO 720 is a relatively small and slim device with a 4.3 inch touch screen. It comes with a vehicle mount, for windshield or dash-board, a car charger, a USB charging/desktop cradle, and a CD-ROM with TomTom Home software.

It is easy to install the device in the car, using the mount with its simple suction cup mechanism. The GO 720 worked straight out of the box, and I found it quite user-friendly.

The device can hook up to your mobile phone via Bluetooth and this allows for hands-free calling and other useful functionality, like calling points of interest — such as petrol stations or restaurants — by tapping the screen or, in an emergency, calling the nearest police station or hospital quickly. However, my phone was not compatible with it so I missed out on these features. TomTom has a list of compatible phones on its website. Basically, if you have got a recent Nokia or Samsung model, you are fine.

The GO 720 also offers a “Help me!” menu, which gives options for calling for help, driving to help or walking to help, as well as an option that gives the exact location of the device, in case the user needs to give directions to, for example, road assistance.

The GO 720 comes complete with voice instructions in a pure Kiwi accent. Comments like “You have reached the ind of your distination” and “Turn lift” greatly amused this foreigner. You can choose a male or female voice, and change the accent if you wish. There is an Australian named Ken, Irish people Sean and Kathy, or an American called Bonnie, if you want some variation from Kiwi speakers Paul and Katrina.

Overall, the GO 720 comes packed with options. For example, you can select a QWERTY or alphabetical virtual keyboard. But this is nearly to the point of being annoying. There are just too many options and the menus are a bit cumbersome to go through.

The device has an onboard MP3 player, 512MB flash memory and an SD card slot for additional memory.

Another cool feature is Map Share, which allows you to update your maps, such as adding new streets or noting blocked roads, and then share the information with other users. Changes can be made on the device and then uploaded and shared on TomTom Home via the desktop cradle. Users are also able to download the latest version of maps free of charge via TomTom Home.

On the downside, there are no external volume controls.

Recommended retail price for the TomTom GO 720 is $749.

Update: It has come to our attention that when ordering a 1.6GHz HP 2133 Mini-Note (reviewed last week) in New Zealand, you will not receive the enormous charger that came with our review unit, but a much smaller one. One of our friends, who just received his Mini-Note, says the charger weighs just 158g and measures roughly 100 x 45 x 30mm.