Disclosure: TomTom loaned me a sat nav at no cost for the purpose of this review. I received no payment and was not required to write a positive review. Links marked with (eBay⇒) or (Amazon⇒) are affiliate links. This means I get paid a small commission if you buy something after clicking on the links. This money helps to pay for the running of the website.
Despite their incredible popularity, there are still people out there who believe that paper maps are a better way to navigate than sat navs. I will freely admit I am one of them, with the exception of navigating around unfamiliar towns and cities – a situation where sat navs excel, as they contain a complete A-Z street guide for every location.
TomTom’s tagline for the Start2 model I’ve tested for this review is “Get started with navigation”. This suggests that it is aiming the Start2 at people who have not owned a satellite navigation device before and may even be a little sceptical about it.
Getting Started With The Start2
To TomTom’s credit, the Start2 is very simple to start using. The navigation system is very carefully designed so that each stage is as simple as possible and you are gently and quickly funnelled into setting up a destination and being ready to start driving.
The main menu screen has just two choices – Plan Route and Browse Map. Although all sat navs allow you to browse the map, not many make it quite this easy. However, you are still browsing a map on a tiny screen – it does not compare to paper, but it is a lot better than nothing.
The Start2 is an upgraded version of the Start model and offers a good range of functionality. Included are TomTom’s IQ Routes system, which uses historical average speed data to give you the most effective route for the time of day, and lane guidance, an increasingly popular feature which tells you which lane you should be in when approaching junctions on dual carriageways and motorways.
The usual POI (Point Of Interest) features are present and you can download additional POIs from TomTom’s website (some are free). You can choose to navigate to a POI, rather than an address, if the place you want to visit is in the POI database. There’s also a text-to-speech feature that reads out street names, rather than just telling you when to turn. I found that this worked well and cut down on the amount of time I had to spend looking at the screen.
Finally, the Start2 also includes fixed speed camera alerts and has the capability to handle TMC traffic data (the same traffic alerts you get on FM radio) – but this feature does require a £50 additional adapter and an antenna wire.
I found the Start2 easy to use and quite intuitive. My only real comment was that the onscreen keyboard for entering destination information was a little small for anyone with larger fingers. This is obviously an unavoidable consequence of the 3.5″ screen size but is worth bearing in mind if you do have large digits.
The spoken street names were a boon and I have no doubt that this feature will soon be universal on all sat navs – it really is useful and moves a sat nav closer to becoming the equal of a good human navigator. Forced rerouting also worked well – when I tried this on a rural route the Start2 picked up on the new route without hesitation and navigated me correctly using exactly the route I had in mind, even though there were several other possible options.
I found the TomTom Start2 to be intuitive and easy to use. The routing was pretty good and the spoken directions and street names were accurate. Features like lane guidance and spoken street names are very much worth having and the redesigned menu system is probably as simple and logical as possible for navigating from A to B.
At the time of writing, the Start2 is on sale for around £120.
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