Review: TomTom XL IQ Routes Edition Europe
For those who are put off by TomTom’s more expensive Live range or simply don’t require the level of features that it offers, then the XL IQ Routes edition could offer an ideal alternative
For those who are put off by TomTom’s more expensive Live range or simply don’t require the level of features that it offers, then the XL IQ Routes edition could offer an ideal alternative.
And compared to the original XL series the latest IQ Routes edition has certainly improved on the design front. Whilst the 4.3” screen is still surrounded by an old fashioned frame, the dull grey tones have been eradicated and replaced by a lovely black finish, with a slight reduction in weight to match.
TomTom‘s EasyPort car cradle returns and rightly so because it clips conveniently to the back of the large speaker, staying compact when not in use and then folding out when required for driving (sticking firmly to the windscreen).
Internally TomTom have replaced the old fashioned icons with the lush finish of the Live series and in the process has reduced the number of scrollable main menu options to just two. In the real-world this made using the software even easier than before and from a driving position tapping icons or inputting addresses was extremely responsive.
You’ll find a wide range of input options at your disposal, for example GPS co-ordinates, full postcode searching, favourites, multi-stop route planner/simulator (now available via the web) and on-screen map browsing, the only feature missing is the ability to use imported Outlook contacts.
However you can add your own custom POI, including their contact phone numbers, on-screen map icons and the ability to set alarms to go off when approaching.
Whilst the latter sounds glamorous you need to remember that TomTom’s map view has never been overflowing in the graphical department and this bodes true for the XL, that said it’s minimalistic approach does prove less of a distraction when driving and it incorporates several useful directional aides, including a few borrowed from the Live range, for example the newer POI icons, speed warning symbols and Advanced motorway lane guidance.
The XL even has the ability to switch between day/night mode (something that the 940 could not do) and the screen was extremely easy to view, even in bright conditions.
Unfortunately a few of the Live services that made the transmission over are not as effective on the XL because it lacks a Bluetooth/data option, so in terms of taking advantage of the three month fuel price search and safety camera subscription you always have to plug your device into TomTom Home (PC based software) for updates.
Likewise you won’t find the Buddy service, weather or Google search options installed either, voice directions lacked text-to-speech support and you’ll need to buy an RDS receiver to take advantage of traffic alerts.
On a positive note voice directions were loud and spoken with great clarity, plus with TomTom Home there are lots of free voices you can download to liven things up.
TomTom have also supplied a safety camera database to boost its features, which incorporates both countdown makers and an audible warning tone.
Camera alerts worked well most of the time, but we did witness a couple of omissions and on one occasion a camera was incorrectly identified. Luckily you can take advantage of the camera updates for fixes or use the camera correction utility to report any problems yourself to TomTom.
A similar utility is included for map corrections, with TomTom’s Map Share service you can send or receive map corrections for free.
Initial route calculations also incorporate TomTom’s IQ Routes technology, which takes into consideration several real-world factors, including the day of the week and the time of day that you are driving. In use we certainly witnessed improvements to route efficiency between say a Sunday evening and a Monday morning, though we did question some of its route choices on one of our weekend trips, showing that the technology is still growing.
Whilst initial calculations were nippy and the QuickGPSfix utility does speed up location acquisition times, we still found the route re-calculations a little slow off the mark (nothing to drastic thankfully).
Overall the newer IQ Routes edition has a lot going for it, but its features are not what you would call overflowing and much more reliance is placed on TomTom Home, that said if you want a TomTom for pure navigation then the XL will do the job nicely.
Price (as reviewed): £199
Map coverage: Europe
Written by Brett James.
Review originally published in Smartphone & PDA Essentials magazine.
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