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TomTom GO 940 Live review

TomTom's flagship satnav has a price tag to match - is it worth it?

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Our Verdict

The TomTom GO 940 Live is about as state of the art in satnav as you can get - as long as you don't mind paying the enormous asking price.

For

  • Live services work well
  • Improved motorway junction close-ups
  • easy to setup and use
  • new windscreen mount is miles better

Against

  • speaker quality
  • route calculation could be quicker

Everyone knows that satnavs are cheap as chips these days, with examples available online for a good deal less than £100, something that makes the arrival of the £449.99 TomTom GO 940 Live more than a little surprising.

TomTom, of course, has always attached a price premium to its flagship models - but in these cash-strapped times the GO 940 Live is really going to have to work hard to persuade you to empty your wallet. So where's the beef.

Like the £349.99 TomTom GO 930T we reviewed last year, the 940 Live packs in plenty of attention-grabbing features. These include IQ routes which uses traffic data gleaned from a variety of sources to give you the best possible journey times whatever time of day you travel; and speech recognition which enables you to give the 940 Live verbal instructions rather than having to fanny about using touchscreen buttons.

Crucially, the 940 Live improves over its predecessor in several respects - the chief which is that it enables you download live updates without having to resort to TomTom Home software on your Mac or PC.

Out on the road, it also delivers real-time traffic, weather, fuel price and other updates. You can even use the 940 Live's built-in Google search to find local Points Of Interest - something that finally overcomes the limited options included by TomTom itself.

Unfortunately the TomTom GO 940 Live doesn't give you lifetime use of these services in the £449,99 asking price. Instead you get the first three months free, after which you have to start ponying up £8 per month.

A £50 fuel card goes some way to offsetting that disappointment, but frankly we'd rather see TomTom shave £50 off the 940 Live's price. A £50 fuel card, after all, is probably only enough to fill up your average family car just once - so it's not quite the bargain it seems.

Another caveat is that Live services updates are only available in certain parts of the country (the Republic of Ireland is excluded for example), although this should have improved drastically by March 2009.

Elsewhere the 940 Live continues the TomTom tradition of serving up a 10.9cm colour widescreen touch display; a microSD card expansion slot (along with the 4GB of storage built-in; Europe, US and Canada maps; 3-hour battery; FM radio and MP3 player, plus a built-in GPRS modem that enables you to interact with all those Live services.

Perhaps the biggest and best change though is arguably also one of the simplest - TomTom has finally dispensed with the old-style windscreen mount that had a tendency to pop off without warning it, replacing it with redesigned version with a much better fixing.

The TomTom GO Live stayed glued to the screen throughout our test. Seasoned users will also notice that TomTom has replaced the touchscreen icons of old with new slinkier versions - and overall build quality is reassuringly solid too.

Out on our test route the TomTom GO 940 Live acquitted itself very well. It was reasonably fast at calculating our preferred and alternative routes, served up very useful and vastly improved close-ups of motorway junctions and managed to get us around our 50 mile circuit of motorways, villages, cities and b-roads with the minimum of fuss.

The HD Traffic module - which flashes up incidents on a bar on the right side of the screen - however proved of limited usefulness, partly because its tiny characters and icons can be quite hard to see. You may find that the speech recognition - which works reasonably well - is also of limited use, especially if you have a pack of feral kids in the back.

At least HD Traffic and other options work properly now thanks to the built-in modem - we found that previous models struggled to maintain Bluetooth connections to some mobile phones, rendering Live services almost useless. The TomTom GO 940 Live is a big step up in this regard.

One thing TomTom still hasn't cracked though is on getting the automatic day / night modes right. Even in the dark we still had to delve into the TomTom GO 940 Live's menus to get it to switch. Voice quality from the rear-mounted speaker is also poor, with noticeable distortion at even reasonable volume levels.

So should you buy one?

If your heart rules your head then yes of course. It terms of usability, features and finish, it's easily the most accomplished TomTom GO yet, but you really have to weigh up how many features you'll think you'll need on a day-to-day basis in order to justify that enormous price tag.

At £449.99 then the TomTom GO 940 Live is probably better suited to motorway-munching road warriors than families heading out for an away day.