First impressions / comparison, XXL 540 TM vs Garmin Nuvi 205

Discussion in 'General TomTom Discussion' started by ewjax, Jul 6, 2010.

  1. ewjax


    Jul 5, 2010
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    TomTom Model(s):
    Go 2535 Live, XXL 540 TM

    I have been using a basic Garmin Nuvi 205 for quite some time, and in general like it, but just recently purchased a Tomtom XXL 540 TM. Here are my thoughts / comparisons between the two units, based on just a couple of days with the Tomtom to this point.

    1. Price/feature ratio: Advantage TomTom. It is a trifle unfair to compare them head to head, given the Nuvi 205 is pretty much bottom end of the Garmin line, and the XXL 540 is newer and so you would expect better performance, more features, etc, and in general that is true. But when you level the playing field, by comparing price/feature ratios, Tomtom is way ahead, it is not even close. If you compare similar functionality between Garmin and Tomtom, the Garmins are significantly more expensive.

    2. Main screen customizability: Advantage TomTom. This in fact is the main reason I decided to upgrade - I really like the digital compass option (ex-Navy, what can I say), as well as the other selectable outputs. To get the compass to show in my Garmin I had to a) NOT have a destination set, and b) I only got the 8 cardinal direction points N,E,S,W, NE, SE, SW, NW.

    3. Mounting mechanism: Advantage Garmin. What masochist dreamed up the Tomtom system? Hehe. I'm getting better at clicking it in place, after sitting on the couch all evening while watching tv and doing nothing but practicing, but seriously, the Garmin wins hands down. I can hand my wife the Garmin and she can have it on her windshield in 15 seconds. That's not even a remote possibility with the TT.

    4. Route calculation time: Advantage Garmin. Maybe it is not doing as good a job at optimizing the route, but even my old Nuvi gets answers significantly faster than TT. To find the route from my home in Pennsylvania to my daughter's place in North Caroline takes the Tomtom over 90 seconds (with another 90 seconds if I need to tell it to avoid tolls), and takes Garmin less than 15 seconds, and both units find the same route.

    5. Screen brightness: Advantage Garmin. In the sun, I cannot get my TT bright enough to be able to easily read, it just washes out. I'm hoping I can find some higher-contrast map colors here to use (but at least the TT allows that customization!)

    6. Map detail: Advantage TomTom. The roads are crisper, with better detail, showing more lane and onramp detail.

    7. Satnav receiver sensitivity: Advantage TomTom. The TT unit finds satellites much faster than my Nuvi, and hangs onto them, even when the unit is inside and even while it is sitting in an opened desk drawer. I couldn't believe that.

    8. Destination on the Left/Right: Advantage Garmin. The Garmin tells me "You have reached your destination, on the left/right" but TT omits that last part. I miss it.

    9. Alternate routes: Advantage Tomtom. The Garmin allows me to puch a buttom to "find a detour", but little control over where that detour needs to occur. It assumes the detour needs to occur right in front of you, and essentially goes into perma-recalc mode as you drive along your original route, assuming "ok that wasn't the bad spot, so it must be the next quarter mile or so" and recalculates again. The Tomtom gives a LOT of control over just exactly what you want to avoid.

    10. Avoidance control: Advantage Garmin. I could control whether or not I wanted Garmin to avoid or accept toll roads, highways, carpool lanes, etc, very easily. Tomtom has those settings buried a bit deeply into the preferences screens. I currently have them all set to "Ask me" but as mentioned, with the slow route calculation time, sometimes I'd like to be able to quickly and easily turn off or allow tolls, for example, before I send it off on a 2 minute recalculation.

    11. Additional features in Tomtom unit not present in the Nuvi: Advantage Tomtom. Again, not entirely fair here, but with the prices of my Nuvi less than $100 different from the Tomtom, the bang for that extra $100 is significant. 5 inch vs 3 inch display. Lifetime maps (Garmin cost ~$90). Lifetime traffic (Garmin cost ~$50). Text to Speech spoken street names. IQ Routing. Itinerary planning. Status bar customization/control, including digital compass (yay). Lane assist. Map error corrections, and the sharing of them across the community via Tomtom Home.

    All in all, I am very satisfied with the Tomtom purchase.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2010
    ewjax, Jul 6, 2010
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  2. ewjax


    Jun 24, 2010
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    Thanks for the review/comparison ew.

    I'm new to GPS and recently acquired the same unit you have. For about a week prior to purchasing the 540TM I used a relative's Nuvi. Admittedly, my knowledge about the Nuvi and my use of it were limited, but I do enjoy the 540 much more.

    You are a more experienced GPS user than I am, so if I run into a roadblock sometime I may shoot you a question. I have found this forum to be very helpful. The moderators are outstanding, very responsive and helpful.

    Happy motoring with your 540TM.

    Ged, Jul 7, 2010
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  3. ewjax


    Sep 18, 2010
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    Garmin Tomtom Comparison

    Well, I can compare similar models.

    I had Garmin 1490T before it got lost in rental car. Since I was not happy with Garmin 100% I bought XXL54TM. Feature wise, price wise and generation wise, it should be similar.

    1. Overall completeness of the unit goes to Garmin.
    2. Traffic is where Tomtom definitely have an edge. IQ routes works.
    3. Maps... Garmin/Navtec, no errors. Tomtom/TeleAtlas, found 4 errors in 1 week.
    4. Search engine for POI goes to Garmin, by far
    5. No bluetooth on Tomtom, but that is what I bought. No complaints, but do consider that they are similarly priced.

    Garmin Nuvi 1490T
    1. Brighter display
    2. Better POI search engine
    3. key press is more responsive, and you get sound as well
    4. better altitude accuracy display
    5. more useful as a map and not just for navigation
    6. Bluetooth speakerphone is very clear

    1. traffic is not useful at all
    2. mount is bulky to carry around (if you travel like me, it is an issue)

    Tomtom XXL540TM
    1. Traffic

    1. 2D display will not show any vertically oriented street names. How juvenile is that?
    2. even if you are looking at the unit as a map, it auto zooms to almost fully zoomed in after few seconds. On long distance drives, I want to see overall views, which this will not let you.
    3. Key press is not audible, which makes it hard to know if you need to press again
    4. POI search engine is terrible, especially if you do not know the name of the city. Try finding a location that is not in a city, like many of our national parks. Do you know the city where Yosemite is in?
    5. Map accuracy.

    You might think, after reading this, I would rather have my Garmin back. Honestly, living in Los Angeles, I take Tomtom over Garmin just because of IQ routes. I list the Cons of Tomtom because they should be able to fix them, and if they do, the unit will be a lot better than Garmin.

    Hope someone finds this post interesting.
    tadaarai, Sep 20, 2010
  4. ewjax


    Aug 28, 2010
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    Same, I compared the 1490T and XXL550 for 3 weeks and I decided to keep the XXL550. The reason? tomtom routing in most cases is better then Garmin.

    Yes, tomtom is slower, the mount is bad but you get use to it, the map display is not pretty like Garmin but hey, Free traffic with no ads, free maps and good routing is hard to beat for the same price.
    RGold, Sep 21, 2010
  5. ewjax


    Feb 24, 2011
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    nuvi 270 vs XXL540 TM

    I'll take my Nuvi 270 over TT XXL540TM any day 1st address I plugged into the TT it couldn't find it
    nokuy231, Feb 24, 2011
  6. ewjax


    Feb 20, 2011
    Likes Received:
    AssTyme, Feb 24, 2011
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