Here is a comparison of 3 GPRS data enabled PND satnavs.
- Tomtom 750 Live
- Tomtom 1005 Live
- Garmin nulink! 2390
I have been using the 750 Live for the last 18 months, primarily in the "traffic busting" role. I have an 82 mile drive to work, mostly down the M1, so I need something to help me avoid any huge hold ups.
I bought the 1005 and used it for about 500 miles, then returned it. I then bought the 2390 and used it for about 800 miles. I'll try to bring together what I have discovered about these three PNDs. All sections are scored out of 10, except traffic data accuracy which is out of 20 (to give weight to its importance).
1. Traffic data accuracy.
Both Garmin (with 3D traffic) and Tomtom (HD traffic) claim to have an accurate traffic data service. I have used the Tomtom service for a while now, and it is extremely good. Only on a couple of occasions has it not known about a closed road or hold up, and even then it has just been slow to decide there's something there. It covers main roads and cities, and includes closed roads too. If I had to guess at an accuracy, it would be 99%.
The Garmin 3D traffic is just as quick to load as the Tomtom, but the accuracy is nothing better than totally hopeless. Let me illustrate with some examples:
M1 south, early morning lane closures. Gantries said "Long delays J12 to J10". The Tomtom said 16 minutes delay, the Garmin reported nothing.
As I got there the delay was shorter, so I stick with the motorway. Here I am in the queue, with still nothing on the Garmin:
Same place, the next morning. Gantries again say long delay J12 to J10, Tomtom shows it at 40 minutes, Garmin shows nothing. After a bit, I notice the Garmin has done something. It has found traffic at J13 to J12 and has routed me round it. But back on to the motorway at J12, so completely wrong and an epic fail. But then it gets worse... As I go past J13 (clear, as per the Tomtom), the Garmin decides to take me off at J11, because the slow traffic it now has at J11 to J10. Epic fail, of the highest proportions. Why? Because J11 is closed. The Tomtom knows this, as do I (and as do the gantries) and it routes me nicely off the motorway at J12. I even get to drive past the blocked motorway a few times to confirm the stationary queue.
M1 North, afternoon, Garmin reports a 24 minute delay J21 to J22. This was odd; that bit is never blocked, there was nothing on the gantries and the Tomtom said nothing. Of course the Garmin doesn't tell you it has done a re-route, but the ETA, distance and map showed it had. So I went into the Garmin traffic cameras, searched for one on that stretch, saved it and had a look. Empty. That false blockage stayed there for the hour as I approached it, and all the way through it. The road was, of course, empty.
Cases 4 and 5.
Small hold ups (5 minutes or so) on the M1, all reported correctly by the Tomtom, but nothing on the Garmin.
34 minute delay shown on the other side of the M1 by the Garmin. Road was completely clear.
The Garmin also has traffic cameras (at significant extra cost). If you don't believe the 3D traffic (which I discovered is all the time), then you can check a camera. However, the chances of the traffic being where there is a camera is tiny. So you have to search a text list of the cameras near to the junction number of the motorway. This is tricky, because the Garmin map doesn't show junction numbers. Then you save the camera, and now it will appear on the map. You can click the icon, but it is so slow it takes a couple of minutes for the screen to change to camera mode (I only discovered it did by accident!).
The traffic cameras are a complete gimmick, and only needed if you don't trust the data. With good traffic data, they are pointless. I'll give the Garmin a tiny score, because on a couple of occasions it got it right. Ish.
Score out of 20 (2390/750/1005): 3/19/19
2. Traffic data range.
When traffic data is downloaded, the download is restricted to events within a certain radius of you. Obviously the further the PND can see, the better a decision you can make about overall routing on a long journey. Tomtom is about 75 miles (though several people think that this has been reduced recently) and the Garmin is 100 miles.
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 10/7/7
3. Display of traffic data.
Having downloaded the data, the machine will somehow display the data to the user and possibly re-route if needed.
Both Tomtoms have a sidebar, which places the traffic events in a clear fashion on the right hand side. The total delay, including the statistical delay is at the top of the bar.
However, Tomtom have decided to cripple the 1005. It is totally blind to any data further than about 40 miles. So you are always going to get a "40 mile surprise". This is a disastrous decision by Tomtom, since you cannot now avoid a massive problem ahead by taking a totally different route, if the problem is between 40 and 75 miles away.
Here are the 750 and 1005 showing identical downloaded data:
However here is the data shown to the driver, with the massive delay hidden by the programmers on the 1005:
The Garmin shows you nothing of any use at all. Just a green dot for "no traffic", or indeed a green dot for "there was traffic but I have silently re-routed you and you have no idea about this".
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 1/10/3
4. Re-routing / ETA due to traffic.
The 750 pipes up with a voice telling you of the delay, and giving you a new ETA. If there's a faster route it asks if you want to take it. You inevitably say yes, but this is perfect because you now know you have to not go the standard way to work. Or whatever. Perfect.
The 1005 does the same, but only with a limited range of 40 miles or so. Therefore your ETA is wildly out if there is a big snarl up (unlikely to go) that's more than 40 miles away. Even if it has downloaded the data, it choses to ignore it. This is a great shame, because it seriously dents this units ability to avoid traffic. It's why I sent mine back.
The 2390 will re-route you without telling you. Not good. Especially when it's round phantom traffic! Furthermore, when the traffic disappears it can take up to 10 minutes to remove the re-route. I twice saw re-routes round traffic that didn't exist. Fail.
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 1/9/3
5. Accuracy of planning and maps.
The Garmin map was strangely inaccurate. It once asked me to turn left into "Alley". Hmmm. Sure enough the "alley" was part of a large company and I was faced with a hut and a barrier. It tries to send me down a local mud track too, and a couple of new roads that are on the Tomtom are missing. Also, when you come off the planned route because of traffic (that it can't see), it takes ages for it to stop sending you backward to the original route (whereas the Tomtoms almost immediately get the idea and take you forwards).
The Tomtom maps are good, and have the Mapshare feature where errors are reported by users and fed back into the PNDs as an interim measure before the next map is released. Ignoring the ethics of this, it works well.
The 750 has Mapshare, the 1005 does not. Come on Tomtom! Not good enough.
IQ routes is also excellent and really seems to work. The Garmin tries to remember your previous journey times and if the last one was because you were stuck in traffic then it skews the current one by miles. Useless.
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 2/9/6
6. Driving instructions.
For the average user, good instructions are vital. Even when you "know" what you're doing, they are useful. The Tomtoms are excellent, with good clear instructions for all junctions, including roundabouts. The 750 voice is tinny, however the new 1005 voice is spectacular, much less computery and coming from a great sounding speaker.
The Garmin voice is tinny like the 750, but has two bad failings. Firstly it does not describe roundabout exits correctly. If you are following dual carriageways and roundabouts the Tomtom will say "Take the second exit on to the A511 to Coalville" (and the road sign will say A511 Coalville - easy). The Garmin will say "Take the second left on to Shaw Lane". Nobody know which road is Shaw Lane, it certainly isn't signed and sometimes the number of exits can be wrong.
Secondly, the Garmin just gives in and stops. The bar at the top stops giving proper directions and just reads "Continue to xx Road" and the voice is silent. Example:
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 2/9/10
7. 3D display
The Garmin has a nice feel to it, with configurable fields that seem to be exactly like my old Garmin GPS V. The big advantage it has over the Tomtom is the zoom - it can zoom right out when not near a junction, to give you a good overview of where you are, but the Tomtom is stuck at a close in level. The 1005 is a bit more polished than the 750, so sneaks an extra point.
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 8/6/7
8. 2D maps
It's good for many reasons to see where you are and where you are going on a conventional map.
The 750 is great, you can flick between 2D and 3D, and it remembers your scale. Traffic is shown nicely. There is a browsable map too, which remembers where you last were looking, so you can keep an eye on an event. Traffic delay is shown with arrows.
The 1005 has gone backwards, slightly. The browsable map doesn't remember where you were looking - so you always have to start with a view of the whole route, and zoom in. Very annoying. Furthermore, the arrows showing which side of the road the traffic problem is are now dots. So you have to stare at them for ages to see which way they are moving (not easy when driving).
The Garmin is a bit of a joke. Firstly you have to have 3D or
2D, but you can't switch between the two. If you zoom out 3D, then you get a moving "direction up" map (useless) and only when you zoom out to almost country level do you get North up.
Worse still is the browsable map. And the traffic display. Here is the traffic menu:
So you select Traffic Map and get this:
Notice the traffic on the M1 south? Nearly impossible to see, and you should try it on a red road! And what about some town names, Garmin, just so we can see where we are?
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 1/7/5
9. Custom POI.
Many of us like to use custom POI sets, especially the PGPSW speed camera database. On the 750 you just drop them into the disk drive that appears and configure the alerts and sounds on the 750. The 1005 does not appear as a disk drive, but you can still upload via a web interface. This is a little more fiddly and deleting items is a one-at-a-time shocker.
The Garmin has a different approach. You create the database on your computer using a bit of free software. This is then uploaded to the device. The nice thing about this is that you can configure warnings and sounds from the comfort of your own PC, and bizarrely the bit of software that does that is written by Civinfo old hand Kremmen. This makes the Garmin a little easier to configure.
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 9/8/7
Once useful feature is to have the PND warn you if you accidentally break the speed limit. The Tomtoms are clever, they have a little hysteresis in the software so you have to break the limit by a little bit for a little time before it beeps. And you can chose the beep to be any sound you like.
The Garmin is hopeless. You have no choice of beep, and if you go 1 mph over the limit for no time at all, then it beeps. This is maddening, because when you go under a bridge, the GPS signal stops for a fraction of a second. When you re-acquire on the other side of the bridge your speed momentarily jumps up and it triggers the alarm.
So the Garmin beeps every time you go under a bridge on the motorway. Just how bad can this thing be (can you tell it nearly went out of the window)?
The volume of the speed alerts was also massively high compared to everything else, so the overall volume has to be turned down and you can then hear nothing else.
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 1/9/9
The Garmin and 750 are similar. Both take a while to plan, and have trouble scrolling round the screen. The 750 in particular can take quite a while to search for a faster route, and even if it doesn't find one you have to wait for it to re-plan the original and then show it on the screen. The 1005 is excellent, with very quick planning and moving around menus. The only thing stopping the 1005 from getting 10 is that the pinch to zoom is still far to slow to be usable.
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 5/4/9
All are the same low resolution screens. The Garmin and the 750 have resistive screen with anti glare coating. While these look and sound a bit boring in the shop and in the spec sheet, they are easily the best in use. No glare is vital, and the resistive part is fine for a device like this. The 750 loses out to the Garmin because it is too bright on the lowest setting at night.
The 1005 looks lovely when you start it up at home. However it is so reflective it is practically useless in day time and it is too bright at night. Not good at all.
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 8/7/2
13. Voice control.
I have to use voice control on the Tomtoms occasionally, because I can't zoom in and out of the map view easily. On the 750 the buttons are too small, and on the 1005 one button is obscured by the speed camera warning. The voice control is fiddly and annoying - you have to press a button and wait, and you have to answer lots of "is this correct" questions.
The Garmin is excellent. You just say "voice command" and it brings up a list of available commands. No buttons and no excessive confirmations. Tomtom have a lot to learn from Garmin in this department.
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 9/5/5
Finally, the little niggles and cherries. When you turn on your car (assuming hard wired), the Garmin turns on. The Tomtom does not. Why not? Maybe Tomtom just can't be bothered. This little feature makes me smile every time.
The mounts are all a little different, but the Garmin ball and socket keeps moving around and it's tricky to mount the unit. The 750 is nice and solid but it rattles, and the 1005 is similar (but magnetic) and doesn't rattle.
Score out of 10 (2390/750/1005): 9/5/6
I know I haven't touched on itinery planning (sorry) but I never use it. The Garmin and 750 have it, the 1005 does not.
The 750 is a great unit, but just a little slow. The 1005 could be so much better, if only Tomtom hadn't removed or crippled some of the vital features. The 2390 is a fair match in most departments, but is let down entirely by the less than hopeless traffic.
The 750 is clearly the best unit. For me.
Total scores, as a percentage: (2390/750/1005): 46% / 76% / 65%
EDIT: If you are annoyed at the Tomtoms not displaying the full HD Traffic data that you downloaded and paid for, please say so at this Facebook Group: http://www.facebook.com/groups/186622728063452