Tom Tom is introducing a new top-of-the-range model to its GPS product line-up with the Tom Tom GO 920 T.
The 4GB satnav will come with preinstalled maps covering Europe and North America. The maps will include 'building footprints' which Tom Tom hopes will help drivers gain a better feel for their surroundings, especially in urban locations.
Drivers fed up with instructions being barked at them from the passenger seat or the dashboard as a prim-sounding woman commands them to take the second exit can now tell their tormentors where to get off. Tom Tom's new GO 920 T will feature a voice-recognition function allowing users to enter destination instructions rather than having to stab away on the device’s touchscreen.
Sadly, it doesn't sound as though there's the capability to tell the new Tom Tom that you know perfectly well that you should have taken the last turn, thanks very much, but you will be able to go your own way, recording your own driving instructions for routes.
While it's long been possible to save the details of a journey you've just completed, pre-programming a journey you're about to undertake is a useful-sounding new feature.
This may save many an irate moment. Satnav devices have learnt to recalculate routes when drivers deviate from the one prescribed, but aren't so good at recognising when the driver has made a deliberate choice to go another way.
The Tom Tom GO 920 T will also have an FM transmitter, so the device can be used for playing music. An iPod cable is one of the optional accessories Tom Tom says will be sold alongside the GO 920 T, so we assume this means the satnav device is intended as a playback device for MP3 players, in much the same way as products such as Griffin's iTrip or Belkin's TuneFM.
The Tom Tom GO 920 T will also come with a hands-free kit so drivers can make calls safely while charging down highways and byways.
Satellite navigation devices are getting increasingly sophisticated. Traffic management – a real-time traffic reporting tool (usually provided with in-car navigation devices on an annual subscription basis) that alerts drivers to congested routes and re-routes them to avoid jams – can be a boon to those who need to get somewhere on time.
At the other end of the scale, satnav devices can help users avoid speeding fines and be safer on the roads via built-in speed monitors and traffic camera alerts.
Tom Tom also recently introduced Tom Tom Map Share – a service whereby users correct maps that are out of date and share the data with other Tom Tom users. This can be helpful when routes have only recently changed – perhaps because of a new development being built and maps not yet having been updated to reflect this or because there's an extensive diversion due to roadworks.
The Tom Tom GO 920 T will launch in the fourth quarter of 2007, we're told. According to Tom Tom's CEO Harold Goddijn, the GO 920 T will be the most advanced navigation solution on the market.
Earlier this summer, Tom Tom launched its first widescreen satnav device, the GO One XL. Other satnav makers have also seen the sense in manufacturing larger, widescreen models on which information can be more easily read even with a cursory glance as the driver confirms he or she is still on track.
Can we put in a plea for another invaluable function? A satnav snooze button that temporarily turns off the bossy spoken instructions. We're not the only ones to have a particular gripe about the out of the blue pronouncements along the lines of “in 300 yards, stay right” – really handy when you’re stuck on the motorway. For starters, they completely ruin a good old rock-out as you bowl along in the middle lane.