Product: TomTom GO 920T
Manufacturer: TomTom
MSRP: $499.95
Lowest Historical Price: $300 [History]

Introduction
Having recently reviewed the mid-range Garmin Nuvi 360 as well as the low-end Magellan Maestro 3210, switching to the top of the line TomTom GO 920T promised to be a significant upgrade. This is TomTom's current top of the line GPS navigation system, with a dizzying array of features including Bluetooth, FM Transmitter, Enhanced Positioning Technology, Voice Input, Traffic, Map Share, and lots more. Does the TomTom GO 920T live up to its lofty specs? Read on to find out.



Unboxing
The TomTom GO 920T GPS comes in a very presentable box with glossy black accents. The packaging of the 920T & Accessories is very well done as you can see from the image gallery. A plethora of accessories is included to hook up your new GPS both at your desk & in your car. There is even a Bluetooth remote that can be used to operate the multimedia functions of the 920T.

Initial Impressions
Whereas the Garmin & Magellan offerings I reviewed earlier were pretty much ready to use from the get-go, the TomTom GO 920T required a little bit of configuration to get it operating the way I wanted. It is customizable in almost every aspect, including the capability for custom menus, map color schemes for day and night mode, background noise compensation - the list goes on and on. For those who enjoy customizability, you will not be disappointed. The downside comes at the cost of usability. It isn't difficult for me to imagine two TomTom 920T users who cannot intuitively use each others' respective GPSes.



Usability
The TomTom 920T utterly fails in the usability department. For example, it has one-time configuration options that cannot be undone without a full reset/wipe of the system. I encountered this in the "Do you want to arrive at a particular time?" dialogue that is presented every time a destination address is entered. Apparently if you accept the message in the initial configuration, it will show up for ever and ever with no way to get rid of it. Update: I found the configuration option to disable this... "Show leeway to arrival time," buried a full 7 clicks from the home screen.

Another instance of fugliness occurred after I reset the unit, and discovered that there was no longer a Spoken Address option to use voice recognition input. To their credit, tech support was quick to answer the phone; however they seemed to be as dumbfounded as I was regarding the missing feature. They ended up making me download the speech recognition files and manually copy them to the unit, which is not an ideal solution to say the least. It seems that the first impressions of the user interface were a portent of things to come.

Voice Recognition
One of the advanced features touted by the 920T is the ability to use voice commands to enter your destination info. After the whole re-install fiasco detailed above, I was finally able to use the speech recognition feature. I'm pleased to report that it works very well, at least far better than I have come to expect from voice recognition doodads.



Bluetooth & FM
One of the strong points of the 920T is its Bluetooth support. Not only does it support full contact list download from supported phones, but it will also use your phone's internet capabilities to download weather & traffic. If you have a phone with a data plan, using it with the 920T will eliminate the need for you to use the Traffic Receiver, as it can simply get that data online from the TomTom servers.

The FM transmitter is spotty, which is fairly typical in my experience. It depends a whole lot on the orientation and placement of the TomTom within your vehicle, so if it doesn't give good reception where you want to mount it, you are forced to make a choice to relocate or to forgo FM. Thankfully, all of the audio cues can also be directly connected via the line out to a direct input (if you have one), cassette adapter, or laughably to a third party FM transmitter.

You can load up an SD Card with your favorite tunes and play them with the 920T. The music is automatically paused when navigation instructions are given, as well as when you are on the phone. It's pretty cool to be able to integrate your entire car audio system in this way, making the 920T's functionality seem like much more than just a GPS.



Navigation
When starting up the 920T, it is noticeably quicker at getting a satellite lock than the other GPS' I've used. This is, no doubt, thanks to the online feature that downloads satellite trajectory forecasts for the next few days, allowing to the 920T to predict where the satellites will be. Even when the satellite signals are lost (such as in tunnels, in between tall buildings), the TomTom 920T has sensors that estimate your position based on a 21st century rendition of dead-reckoning.

Trip routing and re-routing is seriously speedy, and you can easily define alternate routes to avoid traffic. Using the included traffic module (or via Bluetooth uplink to your phone), you can deftly navigate past congested areas without getting caught up in the mess.

If there's one main complaint I have about the 920T's navigation features, it is that the instructions are entirely too verbose. While cruising down the freeway bobbing my head to some 80's tunes, the 920T would constantly interrupt my groove every time there was an exit by reminding me to stay on the freeway. There's probably a configuration option to disable this incessant babble, so that's something I'm going to have to do real soon.



Conclusion
If MacGuyver used a GPS, this would be it. The TomTom GO 920T tries to be a do-all device to integrate your navigation, phone, and music into a slim package. It achieves significant marks in all of these areas, but not without sacrificing on the usability front. Sometimes I felt as if I needed Mac's help to figure things out, and even TomTom's tech support resorted to what I would consider to be last ditch attempts to get it working properly. Even with such a steep learning curve, the TomTom GO 920T is going to be the GPS that I keep for a while.

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    toygua Ben's cred: 6
    Posted 4:09 pm PDT 04/24/08

    why would they put fm radio into the gps device if most people are going to use this GPS device in a car?

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    bakerzdosen Ben's cred: 55
    Posted 5:04 pm PDT 04/24/08

    Uh, #1, hopefully you're kidding.

    On the off chance you're not, it broadcasts FM, so you can listen to the thing (MP3's, directions, etc) on your car stereo. It works better than a cassette adapter...

    Personally, I love TomTom stuff - most of the time. I like their map display better than Garmin's stuff. I like all the included spoken languages. I like that you can typically get additional voices (celebrity and the like). However, that's about it. Garmin's are better in pretty much every other way, especially customer service if you ever need it.

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    nuisance=pedo Ben's cred: 11
    Posted 7:24 pm PDT 04/24/08

    bacon wants one of these so he can find all the playgrounds near his trailer park.

    Why? because ...

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    heddy_lamar Ben's cred: 67
    Posted 8:30 pm PDT 04/24/08

    Can't find the Nuvi reveiew...

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    bamb_i Ben's cred: 7
    Posted 6:35 am PDT 04/25/08

    Nice review ! Well written and to the point. Thanks

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    samben2 Ben's cred: 75
    Posted 7:09 am PDT 04/25/08

    I found no reference to cost of updating maps. Did I miss it? I can not buy it without knowing about support, can you?

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    Riuski Ben's cred: 11
    Posted 3:16 pm PDT 04/25/08

    I guess Ben paid $300 or less for this just like the rest of us did...

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    billy_bob Ben's cred: 62
    Posted 12:42 pm PDT 04/28/08

    Thankyou for the chapstick as a size comparison. That is something everyone uses and s it is a good measure of size. Something like a quarter or dollar bill is just silly.

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    wayway2fetch Ben's cred: 2
    Posted 7:33 am PDT 07/20/08

    Been looking for a GPS this one looks very nice!

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    kl_7 Ben's cred: 4
    Posted 11:29 pm PDT 08/1/08

    Thanks for the review...I'll be looking forward to the review for the Tom Tom 930. I've read other reviews saying it's a big improvement over the 920. The Tom Tom seems to be more affordable in comparison to Garmins with similar features.

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    catboofus123 Ben's cred: 5
    Posted 11:34 pm PDT 08/26/08

    anyother gps suggestions? somehting a lil cheaper? but just as great for it's price?

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    manofgod72 Ben's cred: 1
    Posted 11:28 pm PST 12/19/09

    Great for people that need direction around town.

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    barginn Ben's cred: 2
    Posted 4:16 pm PST 01/24/11

    i like garmin better

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