Looking for help finding a GPS that meets these (rather extensive) requirements

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Nov 7, 2011
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(I apologize in advance for how long/detailed this will be...)
I'm looking for some advice on which new GPS I should get. I've been using a TomTom GO 920 for the past few years but last month my car was broken into and it was stolen -- since then I've been using a Garmin n?vi 3490LMT which I bought from Best Buy to use for the time being with the intention of returning it at the end of the 30 day trial period. I'm a landscape/nature photographer and shoot for a calendar company as well as for my own photography business so my primary use for a GPS is finding my way to and from scenic spots or routes where I take my photos; these usually tend to be rural out-of-the-way areas where most road atlases are of little help.

I had many problems with the TT GO 920 and was already in the market for a new GPS before it was stolen but I'm not satisfied with the Garmin 3490LMT I'm currently using either. While the Garmin is certainly much faster and flashier, I've found it to have plenty of problems of its own and it lacks several important features that the TT GO 920 had. So, ideally I'd like a new GPS that's faster and more up-to-date than my old TomTom but still has the features I require and I'm hoping to get some help on here finding a new model like that.

Here's what I'm looking for in a new GPS...I kind of doubt I'll find one model that has all of these, so I've ordered them from most important to least important.

  1. Displays multiple pieces of information on the bottom of the navigation screen like the TT GO 920 does; this is one of the biggest issues I have with the Garmin. It has most of the info I require but will only show one piece at a time, whereas the TomTom had them all listed at once. This is the info I?d like to have displayed ?
    • How many total miles to the destination
    • How many miles to the next turn
    • Arrival time (i.e. 8:36PM)
    • Time to destination (i.e. 2 hours, 36 minutes)
    • Current speed and the current speed limit
    • The direction you?re traveling (compass with arrow and/or degrees, i.e. NW 322?)
    • The name of the road you?re currently on
    • How many miles until the next destination on an itinerary list
    • Current elevation
    Both the Garmin and my old TomTom have A, B, C, D and E. Only the TomTom has F and G (Garmin lists the direction you?re traveling but only gives as much info as ?S? rather than degrees or a compass). Only the Garmin has H and I. I?d like a model that has all of these, and more importantly, lists them all simultaneously on the navigation screen.
  2. Has the ability to make an itinerary (multiple destinations) ? my TomTom had ?Itinerary Planning? and the Garmin has ?Trip Planner? but I found the TT's to be easier to use and more customizable.
  3. Has the ability to easily take an itinerary/route from Google Maps (with various destinations and custom roads and routes) and import it to the GPS so that the itinerary planned out with Google Maps shows up as an itinerary for the GPS and the GPS will navigate to those destinations using the exact same instructions as on Google Maps. Since my work requires visiting a lot of specific out-of-the-way routes and locations I typically map out a detailed route on Google Maps beforehand and then painstakingly try to manually copy that route onto the GPS by hand. I?d like to be able to just transfer the route from Google Maps and have the GPS follow it; so far I?ve found no way of doing this with either my old TomTom or the new Garmin. I spent hours with my old TomTom trying to get it to work right and have now spent many more hours trying to get it to work with the new Garmin using various programs and websites but no success.
  4. Has a remote control like the TT GO 920
  5. Has voice commands similar to the Garmin (speaking out loud ?Navigate to 108 Bee Hill Road, Williamstown, Massachusetts? will make the GPS follow that instruction etc)
  6. Allows you to store favorites/custom POIs like the TomTom (and also allows backup of these favorites/custom POIs)
  7. Has map graphics similar to the Garmin, i.e. visibly elevated terrain, lakes, streams etc
  8. Has a way to display both the ?3D? type graphics and still have north always pointing up (The Garmin seems to only offer ?north up? with the aerial 2D view)
  9. Has a feature similar to the TomTom?s ?Travel Via?? where you can tell the GPS to travel to your destination by way of a specific address or point on the map (haven?t found this feature on the Garmin)
  10. Has a map browser similar to the one found on the TT GO 920; Garmin allows you to browse the map but appears to be missing two key features that my old TT offered:
    • Displays icons for all your custom POIs/favorites on the map
    • Lets you search city names or places and then zooms/scrolls to that area (without having to navigate to that place)
  11. Voice reads aloud names of the street (?Turn left onto Edgecomb Avenue? etc)
  12. Has free lifetime map updates (Had to pay something like $70 extra per year with the TT)
  13. Has free lifetime traffic updates
  14. Tells you the name of the town you?re currently in and the road you?re currently on when you speak a voice command or press a button (similar to Garmin?s ?Where Am I?? feature)
  15. Has something similar to Garmin?s ?Trip Computer? that displays a trip odometer along with Moving Time, Max Speed, Average Speed etc
  16. Allows you to operate the device from software on your computer like TomTom HOME does with its ?Operate my GO? feature
  17. Offers a weather feature; both the current conditions of an area as well as a forecast of the upcoming days
  18. Includes maps for both the US and Canada (important) and ideally (but less important) also Mexico and Europe
  19. Has a split screen navigation view: one half shows one zoom level and the other half shows another, i.e. one shows the overall map of your route (displaying entire states, etc) while the other shows a closer zoomed in view of your current location
  20. Has a bright, glass screen similar to the Garmin 3490LMT that doesn?t have awful glare problems like the TT GO 920 ? also has as large a screen as possible (preferably 5+ inches)
Like I said, I'm doubtful I?ll find all these features in a single model, but as many as possible would be nice. If absolutely necessary I might just buy two different GPS models -- each with their own different features -- and have them navigate simultaneously in order to provide me with the maximum amount of desired features (I'd really rather stick to just one device, though). Again, sorry about how lengthy this post is -- my '99 Honda CR-V has 460,000 miles on it (so far) so my needs are probably more extensive than most. Any recommendations, advice or other help would be much appreciated!
 
GPS doesn't work well for elevation. (It was never designed for it.) Get yourself a real altimeter to go with whatever GPS model you decide on. I can't help you much there, but the Tomtom XL 340/540 models have most of what you're looking for on the status bar.
 
For the altimeter, if you have an Android phone there is a free app called GPS Test by Chartcross, Ltd. It has an altimeter function, among others, and I have found the altimeter to be fairly accurate.
 
I'll try to address some of your list from the viewpoint of a multiple TomTom owner

This is the info I?d like to have displayed ?
  • How many total miles to the destination
  • How many miles to the next turn
  • Arrival time (i.e. 8:36PM)
  • Time to destination (i.e. 2 hours, 36 minutes)
  • Current speed and the current speed limit
  • The direction you?re traveling (compass with arrow and/or degrees, i.e. NW 322?)
  • The name of the road you?re currently on
  • How many miles until the next destination on an itinerary list
  • Current elevation
Both the Garmin and my old TomTom have A, B, C, D and E. Only the TomTom has F and G (Garmin lists the direction you?re traveling but only gives as much info as ?S? rather than degrees or a compass). Only the Garmin has H and I. I?d like a model that has all of these, and more importantly, lists them all simultaneously on the navigation screen.

As others have said, get a separate altimeter if that's important to you. You can use an add-on program called Tripmaster on older TomTom models (not new ones), but GPS height measurement is not terribly accurate and Tripmaster will take over the TT screen in a way you may not like.

Other than that, your list of what's available on the TT display is about right.

[*] Has the ability to make an itinerary (multiple destinations)
Beware that all NEW TomTom's GO1000/2000 and Via models) are currently missing the Itinerary function. It may return in the future, but there's a big silence from TT about it so far.
Some of the very cheapest old models did not have it either.

[*] Has the ability to easily take an itinerary/route from Google Maps.....and the GPS will navigate to those destinations using the exact same instructions as on Google Maps.
No sat nav will do that EXACTLY. The itinerary is just a list of points on a route, not the route itself. The satnav works out the route between each point and will always do that in it's own way, which may or may not be the same as the Google route.

The workaround for that is to make sure you add sufficient waypoints on the route to force the satnav to take the same decisions as Google did.

I?d like to be able to just transfer the route from Google Maps and have the GPS follow it; so far I?ve found no way of doing this with either my old TomTom or the new Garmin.
"Tyre" works very well with Google maps and integrates well with the Tomtom.
Tyre

[*] Has a remote control like the TT GO 920
The last Tomtom models that work with a Remote control are the GO x50 series

[*] Has voice commands similar to the Garmin (speaking out loud ?Navigate to 108 Bee Hill Road, Williamstown, Massachusetts? will make the GPS follow that instruction etc)
Upper end tomTom's have that. Some people love it, but I find it a gimmick and more trouble than it's worth.
[*] Allows you to store favorites/custom POIs like the TomTom (and also allows backup of these favorites/custom POIs)
All Tomtoms allow that even the new ones!

[*] Has map graphics similar to the Garmin, i.e. visibly elevated terrain, lakes, streams etc
TT has most lakes and rivers, but not streams and elevations. Garmin much 'better' there.

[*] Has a way to display both the ?3D? type graphics and still have north always pointing up (The Garmin seems to only offer ?north up? with the aerial 2D view)
I don't see how that would be possible... On the 3D navigation screen, the car is fixed at the bottom of the screen, and the display always has to rotate to show the direction you are travelling in so the 3D view is similar to what your eyes are seeing.
Obviously on the 2D display, you can have north up and a a moving car icon, but I can't visualise how this would work with a 3D display.

[*] Has a feature similar to the TomTom?s ?Travel Via?? where you can tell the GPS to travel to your destination by way of a specific address or point on the map (haven?t found this feature on the Garmin)
All TomToms can have at least one "via" point. New models have upto 3 or 4 possible "vias", but they only do this because they don't have proper itinerary planning.

[*] Has a map browser similar to the one found on the TT GO 920;
  • Displays icons for all your custom POIs/favorites on the map
  • Lets you search city names or places and then zooms/scrolls to that area (without having to navigate to that place)
All TomToms work in the same way.

[*] Voice reads aloud names of the street (?Turn left onto Edgecomb Avenue? etc)
For that, you need a model that supports "text to speech". TT refers to this as "Computer voices".

[*] Has free lifetime map updates (Had to pay something like $70 extra per year with the TT)
Available on some US models. Ones with "M" in the model number.

[*] Has free lifetime traffic updates
Don't know the current situation with this in the US.

[*] Tells you the name of the town you?re currently in and the road you?re currently on when you speak a voice command or press a button (similar to Garmin?s ?Where Am I?? feature)
TomTom's have the same "where am I" feature. It use to speak the info out loud, but now only writes it on screen.

[*] Has something similar to Garmin?s ?Trip Computer? that displays a trip odometer along with Moving Time, Max Speed, Average Speed etc
No TomTom has this except the motorcycle models, unless you install something like Tripmaster as mentioned above. Not possible on new models such as the Go1000/2000 or Via models.

*] Allows you to operate the device from software on your computer like TomTom HOME does with its ?Operate my GO? feature
Not possible on new models such as the Go1000/2000 or Via models.

[*] Offers a weather feature; both the current conditions of an area as well as a forecast of the upcoming days
Availabl on all TomTom "LIVE" models

[*] Includes maps for both the US and Canada (important) and ideally (but less important) also Mexico and Europe
Available on models with SD card slot for extra storage and on large capacity "World Traveller" models

[*]Has a split screen navigation view: one half shows one zoom level and the other half shows another, i.e. one shows the overall map of your route (displaying entire states, etc) while the other shows a closer zoomed in view of your current location
I've never seen this on any TomTom (or Garmin!)

[*]Has a bright, glass screen similar to the Garmin 3490LMT that doesn?t have awful glare problems like the TT GO 920
TomTom Go100/2000 series models have a glass sreen that is incredibly bright and claer. But glass screens are FAR more prone to troublesome reflections.

? also has as large a screen as possible (preferably 5+ inches)
Available in both old and new model ranges.

---------------

I think from what you've said, the Go 950 is about the best all-rounder for your purposes.

--------------

my '99 Honda CR-V has 460,000 miles on it (so far)
Wow! I thought mine was doing well at 190.000 miles since '99. Only had the original cat replaced last week.
Does yours "clunk" as it goes over bumps? :lol:
 
Many thanks for the in-depth response, Andy_P!

Is the Go 950 a UK model only? I haven't been able to find it for sale on any non-UK site, including eBay (only UK sellers)
It doesn't show up when I search it on Amazon but shows up on amazon.co.uk when I search it on google. If the 950 is a UK model, is there a US equivalent available?

Beware that all NEW TomTom's GO1000/2000 and Via models) are currently missing the Itinerary function. It may return in the future, but there's a big silence from TT about it so far.
Some of the very cheapest old models did not have it either.

Is there any sort of alternative feature available or is the concept of multiple destinations done away with entirely in the newer models? The ability to plan an itinerary is definitely a key selling point for me.

Wow! I thought mine was doing well at 190.000 miles since '99. Only had the original cat replaced last week.
Does yours "clunk" as it goes over bumps? :lol:

Oh yes :p
 
Is the Go 950 a UK model only?
If the 950 is a UK model, is there a US equivalent available?

The x50 models were never sold in America for some reason. The closest models to the GOx50's were the previous GOx40's which were even better.
Again for some unknown reason, TT decided only to sell the Go740 in the US.
(740 had just European or America/Canada maps, Go940 had both)

Is there any sort of alternative feature available or is the concept of multiple destinations done away with entirely in the newer models? The ability to plan an itinerary is definitely a key selling point for me.

Currently, all they have is "multiple waypoints". This gives you 3 or 4 "travel via..." points on a normal route calculation, instead of the one that you used to get.

Itinerary planning WAS promised for the new models, but TT have a way of subtly changing the wording of their promises!
So they seem to be saying they have fulfilled the promise with these multiple waypoints.
The campaign continues to get proper load-able and save-able itineraries back !

Does yours "clunk" as it goes over bumps? :lol:

Oh yes :p

Good to know! :thumb:
 
EDIT:
So it looked like the GO 740, 750, 940 or 950 (all Live) were the 4 best options but of those it seems like only the 740 would have Live Services that would function here in the US (please correct me if I'm wrong about this).
The GO 740 Live doesn't exactly have stellar reviews on sites like Amazon, CNET etc and I've only been able to find one for sale anywhere and it's a refurbished model from a sketchy seller with no returns allowed -- plus, it's costly at $190.00 per year extra for the 740 (maps + live services) or $120.00 per year extra for the 740TM (live services).

Would anything in the XL series be a viable candidate instead? Of those it seems like either the XL 340TM Live or the XXL 540TM WTE would be the best options -- they both have lifetime maps and traffic and the first has Live Services. But how would they fare in terms of my needs / how do they compare to models like the GO 740?

Also, does the GO 740 lose any features that the GO 920 had, like itinerary planning, the remote control, the "Operate my GO" feature, displaying the same amount of info (arrival time, distance, speed etc) or more along the bottom of the screen or the other things that the newer models lack?

Thanks again for the help!
 
Last edited:
I can't really help you with the XL models as they are so very different in the US from the UK.

I have an XL LIVE IQ Routes edition and it's very good, but doesn't have any of the Bluetooth features of the Go models.

I THINK, the Go 740 can do everything the Go720 could, except for the FM transmitter and music player (only the Go940 had those, and they were then dropped completely from newer models)..
 

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