I’ve got it figured out. If I pick the kids up right after school I can stop at the grocery store before dropping my youngest daughter off at her friend’s birthday party. We had everything organized the night before and the kids knew no dilly-dallying in the schoolyard or else the whole schedule would be off.
Kids picked up and on our way to the shop, everything was moving like clockwork, until it wasn’t. Traffic heading north to the grocery store had us at a standstill. My daughter was frantic we would be late for the party. Not an unusual scenario. No matter how well we plan, outside circumstances always seem to mess things up and traffic is the worst. I don’t drive often but when I do I want to make the most efficient use of my time. Who wants to spend their day sitting in the car?
TomTom GO 500 promises to Get You Home Faster so I jumped when given the chance to put one to the test.
I was struck with the screen size, which is key when you’re relying on the device to communicate where you are and where you are going. The set-up was pretty easy though it did take some time, as in a few hours; so don’t expect to use it right out of the box.
I’ll be honest. I don’t have a very good sense of direction so a GPS in our vehicle is a must but the upgrade package you have to buy to use it is pretty pricey. I assumed the TomTom GO 500 would deliver on the GPS needs my vehicle offers but I discovered it went a step further.
I’m talking about the Real-Time Traffic Updates. Delays on my route, whether from construction or slow traffic, are highlighted right on the map. The sidebar is also updated to tell me how much the congested route will throw off my planned schedule. This means I can avoid sitting in traffic and track an alternate route around the red zone or at the very least update people on our updated schedule. Getting from A to B is easy with a GPS, any GPS, but being able to get there faster, avoiding being late for birthday parties or getting home before the ice cream melts, that’s key. I never knew just how important this was until the GO 500.
Of course there are other features I really liked about this device too, all lending to a more enjoyable, less stressful drive:
- Portable Device. This means I can preset travel routes and details in my hand, whether in the car or in the house. It sounds like a small thing but it’s a great convenience.
- Custom Voice Choices. My husband and I often joke that the GPS in our vehicle is like another person. I’m waiting for the sarcastic option to appear in future developments but right now I like that I can choose my GPS voice from various countries of origin like Ireland or the United Kingdom. Plus they have a number of male and female options. I choose James from Australia but I’m tempted to switch that out for Han Solo.
- Posted Speed Limits. No more wondering about the speed limit for the road you’re driving on, the TomTom GO 500 shows it on a display along with your estimated speed limit. I like that it’s shown in a speed limit sign ensuring it doesn’t get overlooked as some other number like distance and it’s certainly a better way to find out the limit versus through a police officer. I’m especially keen to try this for US road trips.
- Voice Control Operation. This is a great hands-free feature. It’s not always on which means the kids can’t trigger it (like they’ve done with our van GPS when driving). Use the wake-up command to turn it on and the voice feature shuts off after it’s completed the task.
- Updated North American Maps (Canada, United States, Mexico). The TomTom GO 500 includes Lifetime TomTom maps meaning as roads change and areas develop you won’t be directed into a field. When I’m tired from a meeting and trying to get home to see my kids it’s comforting to know I can get home by the fastest, most efficient route possible. Handy notifications means my maps are always up to date.
- Touch Screen. Zoom in. Zoom out. Find directions to a destination on the map. See traffic issues. The touch screen option gives me total flexibility when trying to get from A to B.
- Added Details. The TomTom GO 500 also gives me access to gas stations and parking lots along my route or at my destination, which saves me from stressing out when I forgot to fill-up. It also flags speed camera and red light camera zones. The only thing worse than getting stuck in an intersection you thought you could make it through is getting stuck in a red light camera intersection.
The TomTom GO 500 easily mounts on your dashboard or window or whatever area in your vehicle that works (and is in your sightline). It has a two-hour battery life when not plugged into your phone or car, which means you can use it in a pinch when walking in an unfamiliar area.
I should point out that in order to use the Real-Time Traffic Updates you require a mobile device with the MyDrive app installed (the devices are paired). This does mean the device does use your data when browsing for current traffic conditions I’ve been told the data usage is pretty low. For example, a daily 45-minute commute to work and back results in around 7MB per month. That’s equivalent to listening to one three-minute song on Spotify. It is also subject to roaming fees in the US but you can still use the TomTom’s update maps without the real-time traffic when traveling (something we plan to do with our car rental in Maui this summer).
Road trips aside, the flexibility, ease of use and real-time updates on my TomTom GO 500 make everyday travel a breeze and get me home faster. Efficiently using my time in the car, avoiding more late party arrivals, bathroom accidents and messy melted ice cream containers makes everyone in my home happy.
I was provided with a TomTom GO 500 and compensated for my time to write this post but as always the thoughts and experiences are my own.