The TomTom GO 920 T is the company’s high-end portable GPS unit, and it’s loaded with features and includes maps for North America, Canada and Europe. It accepts addresses via spoken command, includes an FM transmitter to play your music through your vehicle’s stereo speakers, and even lets you download a ton of cool additional content. Overall, the device proves a great and versatile in-car navigation system. The only downside: It’s also the kind that’s quite expensive and not as easy to use as you might like.
Features and Design
The TomTom GO 920 T is the company’s flagship GPS for in-car navigation, and as such comes loaded with every feature imaginable, as well as a few you probably haven’t imagined.
The unit features a widescreen 4.3-inch display that runs at a resolution of 480×272. It includes 4GB of internal memory, a rather large figure that’s required since it includes maps of the United States as well as Canada and Europe. Units also feature an SD slot so you can add more storage if you like. What’s more, systems additionally boast what TomTom calls Enhanced Position Technology to more accurately figure out your location when you go into tunnels or areas far from satellite towers.
Unlike most GPS units, the GO 920 T can actually accept spoken commands for the ultimate in hands-free operation to boot, but these orders are limited to telling it what address you want to navigate towards. Then again, the gadget is also Bluetooth-compatible, so you can make hands-free calls as well, including phoning Points of Interest (POIs) that you are driving to at the time.
Furthermore, the GO 920 T is able to store music files, and using its built-in FM transmitter, you can play them through your car stereo’s speakers. In addition, you can also control an iPod through the GO 920 T using an optional accessory cable.
Maps can be viewed in either 2D or 3D, and you can easily zoom in and out at the touch of a button. There’s also a night mode that dims the screen as well. And if you ever find that the included map is incorrect (for example: it says a street is closed for construction, but the avenue has since opened up), you can always permanently change the map on the unit and then upload the results to other GO users via your computer.
The software that handles this task is called TomTom Home, and serves as a virtual user interface that works on both Macs and PCs. It’s able to download map updates, firmware updates, and tons of extras such as new directional voices, weather reports, locations of speed cameras and so on.
Bear in mind that the Go 920 T connects to your car and your PC via USB cable, and includes an additional antenna that handles real-time traffic information. TomTom also sells a regular 920 (without the “T”) that does not include traffic information.
The GO 920 T sports a 4.3-inch widescreen LCD and a five-hour battery.
Use and Testing
Upon initially powering up, the GO 920 T ran us through a brief configuration wizard where we chose our language, time, directional voice and how we wanted it to look during the day. Next, it asked us if we wanted to set up our Home address, which is great since we’ve had difficulty configuring this on other GPS units. Otherwise, the device can be mounted either on the dash via a suction cup or on the dashboard.
The unit’s main menu lets you choose to navigate somewhere, change preferences or look for help in case you’ve been in a car accident and need a hospital or mechanic. It even has first aid instructions you can use in case you witness an accident or are in one yourself. Worth noting too: The navigation process lets you select an address, home, a favorite, various points of interest (POIs), “city centers” or a recent destination.
All told, we found the interface relatively intuitive, and we like that the GO 920 T lets you choose from places near you or in the city at large. We had to confirm our metropolitan area every time we chose the latter option, which was a little annoying, but we can see how it’d be useful in more widespread areas where you’re not always in the same vicinity. Also, we found the Points of Interest (POI) categories a bit lacking and confusing at times. For example, there’s no category for grocery store, but there are categories for ice skating rinks, yacht clubs and wineries.
Interestingly, TomTom further lets you delete POI categories, but for some reason the only ones you can remove are fire stations, playing fields and schools. You can add new POIs and POI categories though, which is cool, accomplished by entering a new category and then manually entering associated addresses. However, you can only enter an address and can’t give it a name such as “local market.” On the bright side, whenever a POI we were looking for didn’t show up automatically in a predefined category, we were able to quickly locate it by typing in its name every time.
One of the biggest features of the GO 920 T is its ability to let you simply say an address and have the unit recognize it, which is obviously preferable to tapping it in with your finger, especially while driving. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get these functions to work completely.
The company provides two options for this feature: spoken address, and spoken address with dialogue. The former requires you to say the city, and then tap with your finger the cities it brings up on the screen, which defeats the purpose of using vocalized commands in the first place.
The second option is similar, but instead of requiring you to tap the screen, it instead lists the results with numbers assigned to each one, then you just have to say “one” to select the first result. We had no trouble at all getting it to recognize the city and the street, but we were never able to get it to recognize street numbers. We’d say “two” and a two would appear. Then we’d say “four” and it would just sit there at two no matter what we did. We ended up having to type in the actual street number every time we used this feature, which – as you might imagine – proved highly disappointing.
This kitchen-sink GPS even includes a Bluetooth remote control.
While navigating to a destination, the GO 920 T tells you where to turn along with details on the next turn so you can be planning ahead. The device also offers text-to-speech capabilities, but getting them to work right took some Googling as well as general exploration.
As it turns out, if you select a human voice, it tells you a human voice can’t read warnings and messages (such as street names), but it then provides the option to select a computer voice to handle these tasks. The problem is that when we did that though, the screen with the checkbox labeled “read aloud street names” was grayed out. Only when we selected just a computer voice could we get the feature to work, which was frustrating.
What proves really awesome, however, is the fact that you can actually record your own voice for navigation, and the process is super easy too. It tells you what to say, as in “turn right,” and you simply press record and say “Turn right dude!” to save the phrase and have the unit repeat it when necessary. It’s a neat feature, and one we got a lot of laughs from, especially since “and then” is one of the commands you can record.
In any case, the 4.3-inch widescreen display is effortless to read, includes adjustable brightness and also has a “night” mode where the display is darker and easier on the eyes. What’s more, you can adjust pretty much everything on the GO 902 T, including volume level, type of voice, color of maps and a ton of other settings. As such, we can easily say the GO 920 T is the most configurable and customizable GPS unit we’ve ever reviewed.
The unit includes a USB car charger as well as a USB docking station for connecting to your PC. We docked it and quickly installed the TomTom Home software on our PC (Macs can use the application too), and were surprised by how simple it was to use and the sheer number of features it offered. The program first asked us if we wanted to join MapShare, which allows you to edit maps on the unit then upload the changes to other members of the network. Conversely, you can also download updated maps as well, which is a great feature.
Once we had registered an account, which took just a few minutes, we were able to browse all the various downloads available to us, and it was a very long list. Most of the items were detailed info on speed cameras in Europe, but hey – there were also a lot of “aftermarket” navigation voices to pick from including sound bytes spoofing Austin Powers and John Cleese of Monty Python fame as well. Some cost money, but others were free, i.e. the dulcet tones of a 6-year old boy. Classy sorts we are, we chose Austin Powers, who instead of saying “depart” says, “Oh, go drive, baby!”
The GO lets you connect to a PC or Mac and download user-created navigation voices, or record your own.
The GO 920 T supports Bluetooth phones for hands-free calling, but since we have an iPhone we were not able to test this feature, since this particular handset is not supported. We tried to get the 920 to sync with it, and it saw our phone, but could not complete the operation. Thankfully, the list of supported phones can be quickly referenced here before purchase so you needn’t suffer the same indignity. Note that the device also includes a Bluetooth remote control, but TomTom didn’t include it in the box with our review unit unfortunately.
It’s further worth mentioning that the GO 920 T includes an extra antenna for traffic information. Once connected, it looks for radio stations broadcasting traffic information, and can warn you of upcoming roadblocks or road closures. We plugged it in and were able to sync immediately and start gathering traffic info, but sadly never heard any warnings while we drove to spots we thought might be particularly congested.
Finally, the GO 920 T includes a built-in FM transmitter, which can be used to play music stored on the unit through your car’s stereo. We tested the feature and it worked fine, but it’s difficult to find an empty radio channel, so we did experience some interference and static occasionally. However, overall it worked great. The only real problem we ran into was that we couldn’t archive much music on our unit since there was only 171MB of free space on the included 4GB SD card. Luckily, you can augment the internal storage with your own SD card.
It’s safe to say the GO 920 T is easily the most full-featured GPS unit we’ve ever tested, which is good considering it’s quite pricey at $500. But if you consider the device an investment, not simple conversation piece, and something you’ll be using for many years to come, the SRP doesn’t seem too outrageous given all the unit’s features and the fact that you could constantly update and enhance it with new add-ons.
We loved being able to record our own voice for directions, and also liked the download and MapShare services too. It’s just a shame that speech recognition features don’t work properly and that text-to-speech options are difficult to configure to boot. Nonetheless, we were still able to get where we wanted to go most of the time with a minimum of hassles, and that’s all you can really ask from the average in-car navigation system, right?
• Display is easy to read
• Great extras
• Lots of features
• Remote control
• Spoken address feature is wonky
• No support for iPhone
• Text-to-speech configuration issues
• Expensive price point
• Can’t totally customize POI lists