Although a 4.3 in . screen is becoming standard dimension for personal navigation devices, the improvement to a 5.0 inch display can make a significant difference. TomTom has two series of XXL products along with 5.0 in . screens, the XXL 540-TM and the XXL 550-TM reviewed in this article.
The "TM" models consist of both life time map updates and live traffic. The basic feature set of the XXL 550 series of products suits the functions discussed in the previously reviewed XXL 540-S. All models consist of TomTom's IQRoutes technology, 7 million Points of Interest database, Text to Speech, and maps for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. So what is the difference with the TomTom 550TM?
1st, you will find a somewhat revamped and simplified graphical user interface. The Options menu, previously named Preferences, right now includes only 3 screens of options. The 540 series had 6 screens of preferences when you selected the advanced viewing option. Individual option choices group related configurable options together. For example, the driving view preferences on the 550 items allow you to set status bar information and POI visibility. On the 540 items, all those were separate preference settings.
The main menu for the 550 series has also been completely revamped. A touch on the map view still opens up the main menu, however for the 550 items, you now have 2 big symbols: "Plan Route" plus "Browse Map." Plan route provides the extra choice of specifying your departure place besides with the default, "current location." Your Navigate-to options consist of Home, Favorite, Address, Recent Destination, POI, or Point on map. Individual symbols for City Center, Zip Code, plus Intersection are removed on the 550s, but the functionality remains to be built-in. Just type in the zip code instead of the city name, and it can get the city for you. This fundamentally saves you a screen touch or two. One icon absent on the 550 which i enjoyed on the 540 is the one which allows you to navigate directly to a latitude/longitude.
Other improvements to the interface also make several functions more easily accessible. From the main menu, there's an icon to change to night colors, to mute the sound, and to access a more useful Help function. A single touch of the Help icon shows your location on a map along with your latitude plus longitude. The identical details is available on the 540 products, but it surely takes an extra touch for getting the information.
The map view has also been changed somewhat. With no an active route, 2 centered icons on the bottom of the display screen allow you to very easily switch between 2D and 3D views. Along with an active route, the status bar that occupies the lower portion on the display has been reorganized. The lower-left portion of the display indicates the current time, speed, plus direction. The center of status bar shows distance to your next turn. The bottom right portion of the display indicates user-configurable trip information.
Some functions found on the 540 products were dropped on the 550 items. Gone is the Quick Menu that will enables you to access up to 5 frequently used options with a one tap. As well missing is ability to simply add your current location as being a favourite. Safety features are enabled by default, but you can not configure them for the XL 550-TM, as possible on the XL 540. Though I realize that tweaking the user interface requires compromises--especially when you're wanting to simplify it. I am hoping that TomTom provides all these functions back in a future launch.
Obviously, the actually big option for the XXL 550TM is the bundled life time traffic plus lifetime map updates. At only $50 more than the base model that lacks live traffic plus map updates, getting the XXL 550-TM is a no-brainer. Those wanting to save a quite a bit of money might consider the XXL 540-S--it currently looks to have a fantastic cost.
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