A couple of years ago I decided to splash out on the Western and Eastern European maps for Tom Tom Navigator 6 to allow me to carry out the looooong drive from England to Poland. I was already successfully running Navigator 6 with UK maps on my Nokia N95 so I just bought these maps as an add on. I picked them up 2nd hand for £40 but I understand that they cost around £90 per map if you bought them brand new.
The software arrived by CD and it was fairly straightforward to install. You simply connected the phone to the computer via the Nokia software to make the phone visible in Windows Explorer. You then inserted the cd and ,within Windows Explorer, drag and dropped the maps folders from the cd onto the phone. Copying took around ten minutes and once complete I could open Tom Tom on my phone and select which map I wanted to use.
The first thing I noticed was that the folder size for Eastern European was an awful lot smaller than the one for Western Europe. When you get to Eastern Europe you can soon see why - while the Western European map has all kinds of points of interest e.g. supermarkets, hotels, museums, speed cameras etc etc the map for Eastern Europe has very little of this.
Supposedly you can connect the phone to the computer again to download updates to the maps but I was never able to get this to work as the phone rebooted itself whenever I tried.
My immediate issue with the maps was that they did not integrate well with each other. While everything worked perfectly if I just wanted to stay in Western Europe, as soon as I went further afield it did not automatically pick up the other map. This meant that I had to go into the phone settings to switch from one map to the other. This was a real nuisance as I had to guess where the edge of one map was and where the other one began. It was also impossible to programme in an end to end route so to get round this I used a map to work out the probable route, selected to go as far as Berlin with the Western European map then stopped somewhere, reconfigured Tom Tom to use the Eastern European map, set it to find my final destination and set off again.
Having said that, the maps did get me to my destination without ever getting me lost. The Western European maps were detailed and as I mentioned above had a lot of points of interest included. My main gripe with these was that they took no account of the direction you are heading. If you are on the motorway and want to stop for fuel you can easily found out that the nearest service station is x miles away. The problem is that it doesn't tell you if this is behind you or in front of you or whether the service station is on your side of the road. It's not a big problem when travelling on smaller roads but when you are on on the German Autobahn and see a service station on the other side of the road it's a little difficult to drive through the central reservation!
Having spoken a lot of the faults I have to say that I am still very happy with the maps. I now own a full size Tom Tom but I don't always have it with me. It's often been really handy to have a similar programme that I can use on my phone. Aside from the problems with updating it, the software has always been reliable and has never crashed during use. It's just a pity that Tom Tom seem to have stopped developping software for the Symbian phones as I am no longer able to buy newer maps for it
When i first saw this software i must admit i was quite sceptical i thought i might be a condensed version of the regular tom toms. However I was completely wrong, everything is the same you've got access to all the same features such as POI's, speed camera positions warnings (fixed and mobile), tom tom live traffic, and you also receive a tom tom home CD (which allows you to connect to the internet, update your maps, browse your files on your device and memory card and a huge download data base to download voices, languages, sounds etc..) The software itself IS VERY STABLE and there's a huge range of phones it's compatible with. I've personally used it on an i-mate JASJAR and an HTC tytn 2 and it works perfectly! I would have to say though that you need to check on tom toms website for compatibility. Also a point to note is try to make sure your phone has a decent size screen as it may be difficult to see the maps and text clearly. Installation is a doddle all you need o do is push the tom tom SD card into the slot and for 1st time installation follow the instructions and within 1 minute AND you're done! THIS REALLY is genuine plug and play software it is 100% reliable as I've been using it for 2 years now and it's never let me down yet. One of the best features it the live traffic update service that can let you know if there's any traffic jams, lane closures or hold ups on your route. Once again this is an amazing feature as it can really cut down waiting in traffic jams ( a real godsend!) also you have access to weather services and tom tom buddies (which lets you know if any of your pre programmed tom tom contacts are nearby). The only downsides are its expensive to buy an rrp of around £89.95 (for the latest version) on their website although i have seen it for much cheaper at Handtec and other online retailers. Another bad point is that some of the add on services also carry a subscription charge per year and you also need an active internet connection for live services also so check with your service provider. Also some older phones require an external gps device (cost around £15- £60) because they do not have built in gps so factor that into your budget.
Nav 6 is the successor to Nav 5 and TomTom Mobile 5 and can be used on a number of Mobiles and PDAs. My review is based on my experience using an MDA Variao 2.
I recently took a trip to Europe on my bike and got hold of TomTom Navigator 6. Not actually knowing much about where I was didn't give me much confidence but the Vario 2 with the Nav 6 installed was a lifesaver.
Maps are so detailed and being on the bike meant fuel stops were frequent but I was able to plan this using the software. The 3D maps were good but I prefer 2D maps as I work a lot with paper maps and charts and it's just what I'm used to.
The colours used were good, each screen was easy to focus on with a good contrast of colours used. I must admit I did find it difficult to read in places when the sun was out but considering the size of the screen, the fact I was wearing a helmet with visor and having to concentrate more on the road, I wouldn't have expected any more. My experience in Europe was limited to planning and frequent checking of my route upon stopping. Since I returned to the UK however I have used many more of the features available.
One of my favourites is the nav buddy. It lets you enter the details of your mates who also have Nav 6 and it visually displays their location, on your map! Useful if your meeting a colleague on a train in the morning or just going out to lunch etc.
There are various cool features such as the speeding alert, camera alerts, and the new London congestion charge feature that allows you to plan your trip around the 'fine' zone. I haven't used the congestion charge as I've not been anywhere near London with it, but the speeding alerts are accurate (and annoying - switch it off!)
If you pay extra for Tomtom Plus, you get even more features such as traffic and weather updates, detailed city maps and different navigation voices but I think you'd be better off with this if you drive in your job.
A simple but clever tool is the route recalculation. It updates your route if anything causes a need for a diversion such as road works, a wrong turning or a road closure.
All in all, a pretty cool piece of mobile software. I cannot offer much advice on the competition as this is the only one I've used apart from a cheapo GPS I used once last year and that didn't even compare.
Seriously consider it though.