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My worst driving experience was going to the Trafford Centre for the first time ever... I remember passing Old Trafford and signs for the football which I thought was definitely a good sign... that soon started to fade when I started to see signs cropping up for Chester Zoo and I finally realised I was most definitely lost when I saw the "Welcome to Cymru" sign! For those of you that aren't familiar with the North West then just imagine driving about an hour in the completely wrong direction to where you want to go and you'll get just a little insight into my navigational abilities! Thankfully I invested in a satellite navigation system shortly after my little mishap (that still gets recycled around the dinner table... along with the time I looked in a yellow pages for somewhere to take my first ever car for a service and rang them... only to be told they were an Audi garage and didn't really service Volkswagens) and everything has been much smoother sailing since then... That was until my faithful seven year old Tom Tom decided to pack in and give up in autumn last year. Luckily in the ten years that I've been driving I've managed to master all major destinations and landmarks that I need so I don't really have much need for one now... until I was faced with the prospect of driving to the Lake District over Christmas! My dad was on hand to provide me with a brand new Tom Tom Go Live 820 as a Christmas present which he'd actually been given for free due to his current job of working on road safety issues for the police.
The Tom Tom Go Live 820 is basically a satellite navigation system for those of you that have never heard of it or the brand before; it's designed to offer visual and audio directions to any destination of your choice (be it a city centre, a landmark or a postcode). This model is advertised as making navigation a breeze (something I really need) and is designed for convenience too. It weighs just 191g and measures 11.9cm by 8.5cm by 2.1cm making it very sleek indeed. The screen size is 4.3 inches (type is 16:9) and is 480 by 272 pixels. The battery life will last for two hours which there is a 2GB flash memory. The bundle I got also contains an integrated mounting which allows you to either attach the model to your car window or to sit it upon the mount on a flat service. There is also a charger which allows you to charge the Tom Tom at home and through your cigarette lighter in your car too which means you don't need to worry about the battery. I've also invested in a carry case for it to keep it safe and from getting damaged; these can normally be purchased for around the £15 mark depending on the quality you want. The Tom Tom Go Live 820 offers you the chance to carry out hands free calling via Bluetooth, voice control to plan your route and give other commands to the device, richer maps (whatever they might be), IQ Routes (which uses speed data from millions of other drivers to accurately calculate the travel time of your route) and Advanced Lane Guidance to help you navigate complicated junctions.
The first couple of times I used the Tom Tom Go Live 820 I did have to keep referring to the instructions, however once I'd used it three or four times it all became incredibly simple to follow. The options are clearly listed on each screen as you select your way through the categories and the touch screen is incredibly responsive without being overly sensitive. It's simple to programme in your destination from a choice of options (city centre, street address, etc) and after that it takes under a minute to calculate a route. There can be a slight delay with the route showing up while the satellite signal is found. On average it takes about two to three minutes from switching the Tom Tom on to completing programming a route in, this delay is partially due to the Tom Tom taking about twenty to thirty seconds to load the welcome screen which was the same with my old one. Once the route is calculated it's incredibly easy to see the distance, the duration and the first instructions from the images on the screen with all important numbers such as total distance, distance left on current road, etc. being shown in a bar along the bottom of the screen. There is also the opportunity to view the real time traffic information which offers not only the latest maps but also the most relevant information in your surrounding area. You'll be able to see any traffic accidents / conditions / jams, road maintenance or works, safety cameras, weather warnings, etc. in the immediate area to where you are or where you're travelling to.
The colour and images on the screen are crystal clear, far more defined than my older screen used to offer due to having richer colours and a sharper view. The lanes at a junction are also much more clearly defined (they're shown using a still 3D image) so I don't have to rely on road signs as much. The audio instructions are also very clear and well paced, you can of course download other voices if you wish to change from the two provided by the Tom Tom Go Live 820 (my friend has The Hoff on hers)! I also like how you can use this as a car kit for your phone, using the blue tooth to answer and make calls. This also means you can give commands to the device, at first I felt a bit of an idiot but it soon made me realise I could save time! It doesn't always recognise what I'm asking, if I say "Call Mum" I'll sometimes end up with a new route to a place I've never heard of but it does seem to be getting better! There are one hundred and fifty tasks which can be activated by voice from making a call, to altering a route, to looking for something in the nearby area (such as a cash machine or petrol station). The safety aspect of this is clearly demonstrated in daily usage as it offers hands free operation, emergency information and warnings of dangers ahead too. There is also a "Help Me" emergency menu which allows you to find details of hospitals and roadside assistance companies in the immediate area too. Linked to this is the fact that you will also be alerted to speed camera locations and average speed check areas too.
There are a few other features that I'll share with you such as the link to Google search which allows you to search for any landmark or outlet (such as Chinese restaurant) and Tom Tom will automatically take you to the one you select. You can even get a five day weather forecast on your Tom Tom which amazed me... it's always the small things! One downside is that, as roads are constantly changing, the maps do need to be updated (apparently every three to six months to be on the safe side but always before a major journey I'd say). There is a cost involved with this as it'd be a bit too good to be true if it was completely free. There seems to be different information about regarding charges, with my old Tom Tom I bought a yearly subscription for around £35 which entitled me to update my Tom Tom every three months (so four times a year). This same service now costs £44.95 for a year's subscription. There is Map Share which are maps that have been updated by Tom Tom users which is free though! Overall I can't really fault this Tom Tom model as I've not experienced a single problem and it's safely got me to many destinations on time. It's quite an expensive model to purchase as it was only brought onto the market back in June 2011 so it's relatively new still. The UK version is currently on Amazon for £153.22 while the EU version is actually cheaper at £149.99. Amazon does seem to offer the lowest prices from what I've seen but, as with anything, it's always worth shopping around to see what's on offer.
Thanks for reading!