TomTom Go Live 825
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the TomTom Go Live 825, but where it falls down is on the question of value.
Easy to use
HD Traffic service is free for the first year
Voice recognition is useless
AU$69.95/year is a steep price for HD Traffic
Fronting the Go Live range are the similar-looking 820 and 825, which differ only by virtue of the size of their resistive touchscreens — which are 4.3 inches and 5 inches, respectively. The Go Live 820 and 825 take the TomTom design template of the last few years and add a crosshatch bezel into the mix. It's certainly not unattractive, but it's also no design revolution. At the top of the range, there's the stylistically different Go Live 2050 that sports a 5-inch glossy capacitive touchscreen.
The back of the Go Live 825 describes a gentle arc, which not only helps visually, but also makes the Go Live seem thinner than it is. The windshield mount is integrated into the body, allowing it to fold up compactly for storage, while the dial that operates the suction cup is a model of simplicity. The built-in speaker goes up to a decent volume without becoming an unintelligible ocean of crackle and hiss.
A few years ago, TomTom debuted a revised interface with slicker graphics, and it remains pretty much unchanged in the Go Live 825; given its pleasant looks, ease of use and speedy responses, this is no bad thing. The map screen features the tried-and-true TomTom look, so it's easy to read on the go, although the name of the next street you're turning onto often takes more than a quick glance to locate. It also takes too many button presses to escape from the clutches of the menu system and back into the bosom of the map screen.
With recommended prices for the Go Live series kicking off at AU$299 for the 820 (the 825 reviewed here is AU$349), it's a good thing that Bluetooth hands-free is standard throughout the range. Speed limit info, full-screen junction-view graphics for exits of highways, motorways and some major intersections and lane guidance for multi-lane roads within capital cities are also part of the package. The text-to-speech software for spoken street names does a commendable job, but often stumbles over street names with an Aboriginal origin or distinctly Australian pronunciation, such as Illawarra.
The Go Live 825 has a voice-recognition system, but it's bordering on unusable, especially when compared to the excellent system available in the 2012 Garmin range, such as the Nuvi 3590LMT. For starters, the only way to activate the voice-recognition system is by tapping an on-screen button, either on the map screen or by the virtual keyboard, making it impossible to use the TomTom in a totally hands-free manner. If you're required to select from a list of possible options, such as the Burwoods in Sydney and Melbourne, you also need to do that with your finger. One's powers of memory are also tested, as there's no automatic on-screen list of available commands.
Other GPS brands in Australia utilise Suna's traffic information service via FM relay, with traffic-equipped models offering a free lifetime subscription to the service. TomTom has decided to zig by offering its own proprietary traffic service, dubbed TomTom HD Traffic, which is delivered via a data connection over the mobile phone network via a built-in SIM card. Use of HD Traffic and the other online services, such as Google location search, is free for the first year; after that, it will cost you AU$69.95 annually.
Over the years, we've criticised the Suna system, as we've often run into traffic jams that had yet to register on the network or had yet to be relayed to our device, while at other times we've been warned about incidents that had seemingly cleared up before the Vietnam War. That said, we recognise that the system has both technological and logistical constraints, and our criticisms are always tempered by the fact that after purchasing a traffic-capable GPS unit, the service is free to use.
During our time with the Go Live 825 and other Live-branded models, we've experienced issues similar to those suffered on the Suna system, albeit not with the same frequency. Would we cough up the required dough after the first year is up? Probably not.
As far as getting you from start to finish goes, the Go Live does a satisfactory job. Like all other GPS units and applications, the 825 has a preference for main roads, and will often guide you in ways that no well-meaning local would, but you'll eventually arrive safely at your intended destination.
There's nothing intrinsically wrong with the TomTom Go Live 825, but where it falls down is on the question of value. We'd pick the identically priced Garmin Nuvi 2595LMT over this TomTom, as the Garmin features free lifetime map updates and a voice-recognition system that works.