The TomTom Go 50 review
Do you still need a standalone satnav these days? If you own a smartphone, it will probably have a satnav app and do a reasonable job of getting you from A to B. However, few smartphone satnav apps are as fully featured as the Go 50, nor are as easy to use.
In the box you get a USB cable and cigarette lighter adaptor for in-car charging. The Go 50 itself is well built and the mounting bracket offers a good amount of adjustment and a firm grip on your windscreen.
The TomTom Go 50’s screen is a resistive touch screen just like most other dedicated satnavs. The matt finish means that there's barely any glare or reflection but you need to press the screen firmly to get a response. We found this ok for the most part, but the keyboard feels a little cramped compared to most smartphones and is much less accurate. You have to force yourself to slow down and press each key rather deliberately.
The menu system gives you many options, but you need to scroll through these with your finger because they are not all displayed on a single screen. This is where the screen really struggles as resistive screens don't lend themselves to swiping gestures and we often found ourselves hitting the wrong menu option.
Once you type in your destination it shows up on the large map (you can also speak your destination if you prefer - voice recognition is pretty good). You can then press the destination icon to zoom in to make sure it is in fact the right location.
With some niggles out of the way, let’s look at the Go 50's highlights. For starters we like the sleep mode, which means you can turn off the satnav when you stop for a break and then resumes quickly when you continue your journey.
The screen is big enough and is easy to see even in bright sunlight. It dims when it detects night driving or when traveling in tunnels.
We particularly like the new interface, which uses more of the display for the map, and shows real-time traffic information so you can see which routes are currently busy.
The navigation screen is split into two sections. The majority shows you your position on the map, while a strip on the right-hand side gives you the usual information like the ETA and how far away you are from your destination.
The bar also gives shows you what’s coming up ahead, and how far until you reach events or places. You get live traffic warnings (including a great Jam Ahead warning), upcoming points of interest like petrol stations, and even weather warnings.
We found this very useful on our long test drive through France, and were pleasantly surprised how well it warned us of heavy rainfall ahead. We got a few errant traffic warnings that turned out to be nothing, but in general, the warnings were useful.
Colour coding means you can see at a glance how bad the traffic is, and there's an estimate at the top of the bar which indicates how long a delay there is.
The map is more interactive than before, so as well as showing your stored favourite locations, you can also tap on a location to get options to quickly navigate there, add to the current route or perform a local search.
Certain cities are mapped in 3D, giving you more visual cues for navigation as you can see buildings around you and landmarks. Buildings are set back from the road and side streets are made more prominent, which really helps in situations where you're unfamiliar with the area and there's extra pressure.
Bear in mind that one reason why the Go 50 isn't as expensive as you might imagine is because it's a 'smartphone connected device'. Instead of having a built-in SIM like older TomToms, the new range relies on your smartphone for a data connection.
It won't use all that much, but it will require your phone to offer a personal hotspot feature so the Go 50 can connect to it via Wi-Fi. You'll need to make sure you have a tariff that allows tethering - using 3G or 4G data on a different device - and also one that works abroad if you want to get real-time information when you're not in the UK.
Overall, the TomTom Go 50 is a great satnav with lots of useful features, but we'd like to see menus that are easier to use. As long as you have a compatible smartphone and tariff, you'll benefit from timely information on traffic jams and even bad weather. It's generally easy to use, and it's reassuring to have free map updates. If you don't need full maps of Europe and can live with a slightly smaller screen, the Go 40 is £20 cheaper.
The TomTom Go 50 is a great satnav with lots of useful features, but we'd like to see menus that are easier to use. As long as you have a compatible smartphone and tariff, you'll benefit from timely information on traffic jams and even bad weather. It's generally easy to use, and it's reassuring to have free map updates. If you don't need full maps of Europe and can live with a slightly smaller screen, the Go 40 is £20 cheaper.