Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tomtom 340 XL GPS


I just got me another GPS device. It's Tomtom 340 XL. I was looking at it and a similar one next to it, which was 340S model. The 340S model speaks road names, as a safety feature. I figure that as long as I can see the road name on display, I don't need the spoken one. It helps that I can do flash reading, reading all the info with a glance.

This model is terrific. I don't know whether or not this model is the best since I'm not into GPS all that much, but I can tell you that it has great improvement over my last one, which was Tomtom One XL. It's thinner, has better speaker, and more importantly, extremely sensitive GPS sensor. Whereas the old model could barely get 4 or 5 satellites, this one can get 7 or 8 with ease.

There are also a few improvements such as Map Share, Help Me!, and IQ Routes. Not too sure about those features, since I haven't played with it long, but the HelpMe! feature is useful if you ever want to know where you are, without having to convert the GPS coordinates into Map. A very useful feature should an emergency personnel ask you exactly where you are.

Also featured are directions to Police, Hospitals, and even First Aid instructions! You can also look for Point of Interest (POI) along the way. I can look for quick stop places along with the Take-a-Rest-Break feature. It is interesting to see Sinclair and DairyQueen logos as opposed to generic signage. Extremely useful if you ever in a mood for a DQ Blizzard.

The GPS also tells you when you're speeding. Apparently, the map has info not only to tell you the lanes information, but also the speed limits. That applies on Interstates, but apparently not on secondary roads.

Overall, I like it very much. There are some things I don't like, such as planning assumes I'll be going 75 mph on 75 mph roads, where I'll be going closer to 60 mph. The old one assumes 60 mph, so newer isn't necessarily better. Anyway, the new one does not adjust arrival time based upon current speed. Supposedly the IQ Route features takes care of this, but I haven't checked it out yet, so we'll see.

The zoom is still ridiculously high, such that I can't see too far ahead. I'd like to see a user selectable zoom factor option, especially since the map zooms in and out automatically.

The addition of custom icon for car representaion is nice, but I'd like to see the ability to plan route from parking lot, instead of giving up. The algorithm to find closest line between a point and a straight line isn't that complicated, and I think it should be an option.

Also, the fact that it searches name of street dynamically means that you don't have to spell it accurately. Close enough will find it. However, it does mean that the computer will meditate as it searches for correct name, even though the name has been found. This can be good or bad, depending on who you are. Sometimes, you need to be able to dig up more than one, such as NW, Ave, Park, Place, Blvd at the end of the road name. But the wait is annoying when there's no similar confusion. I'm actually OK with this.

Overall, I'm pleased with this device. It now has a permanent perch on my dashboard. I still have to do my own planning, especially with it slightly off with my driving preference, but a great addition nonetheless, and worth every penny of my hard-earned money.

No comments: