Tag Archives: tomtom

Garmin vs TomTom

Have tried using a Garmin SatNav box in Malaysia – we use a TomTom in the UK. It’s been a bit of a challenge getting used to it – unlike TomTom, which is generally pretty precise on postcode lookups, the Garmin box is fairly useless on address lookups – on three or four separate addresses, taken us within range but not actually close enough to be useful.

What’s bizarre is the usefulness of the Garmin Nuvi 1420 box in looking up specific destinations – restaurants, venues etc., – if you treat it more like Google Maps than like a postcode/address lookup, it worked pretty well. Lane control was good, maps were good… the voices are terrible, and the touchscreen isn’t quite as responsive as the TomTom, but otherwise it worked pretty well.

Don’t know how much of the bits that worked badly – address lookup, voices – were a feature of poor localisation to Malaysia. It seems to be the main brand present here, so you’d think they’d sort those issues out properly.

Satnav is wonderful

The TomTom One XL warped us through Bristol, Bath and Basing countryside, helping us when it was dark, raining, trafficky and generally too much hassle for maps. We didn’t encounter any significant issues despite using it for journeys large and small, intricate and simple. It is definitely weaker when you have to encounter private roads (e.g. going to shopping centres etc), but you should definitely be doing some thinking yourself when you’re driving, so perhaps that’s for the best.

The comedy voices (Jean-Luc, Yoda etc) were, as previously blogged, invariably dropped in favour of someone more normal. I’d always want to switch back to Jean Luc for the end of the journey, though, as being told to ‘engage docking procedures’ always made me smile.

BUT: I still haven’t convinced Amanda. I think she gets satisfaction from the process and mental discipline required to plot out and follow a route in the old school way. So it may be a while before we source a SatNav device for use in this household, but again that all depends on how well the driving instruction goes…

…which is OK. But I need to practice my maneuvers. Part of me feels I need to book a test so I have a deadline to work towards; most of me feels like I really don’t have enough time to get ‘good’ enough to persuade the DVLA to give me a license. [sigh]. More work needed.

Kitted up for vacation

We’re off for a week, driving around the West Country. Thanks to a friend who shall remain nameless, I am equipped with a TomTom One XL with the voice of Patrick Stewart telling me to ‘engage docking procedures’ when I arrive at my destination, or telling me I’m “lost in the beta quadrant” when I make a wrong turn. It should get old, but I think I’m going to be giggling a lot. I’ve also managed to borrow Arvind’s Griffin iPod transmitter and have bought an adaptor for the cigarette lighter so we have double power.

Of course, most of the holiday will be low tech – hills, country, friends, and beer. Can’t wait.

Learning to fly drive

I know how to drive, and have held a Malaysian license since 2002. Which means, of course, I’ve forgotten most of the things I need to do to pass a British driving test, and the learning process has begun again – unfortunately, despite being a member of the Commonwealth, someone from the DSA has probably met some Malaysian drivers in the past and so judged that the licenses are not interchangeable with British ones.

It’s been a slightly tedious experience, getting into the habit of doing things that instructors/examiners look for but no sensible driver does (tilt your neck so its obvious you’re checking all the mirrors, for example), but hopefully make me a better driver… if to the benefit of extortionately expensive driving schools. Thanks in no small part to Amanda’s patience, I’m improving quite quickly…

Of course, all this driving has me hankering for a new gadget. When we embark on our tour of the West Country in a few weeks time, I’d really like to have a SatNav product in the car so that Amanda can focus on telling me what I’m doing wrong with my driving, rather than where I’m going… I don’t suppose any of the great SatNav companies fancy loaning a product to a lonely blogger in exchange for a write up of the experience on the 618th most popular technology blog on the Interweb? If I like it, I’ll probably buy it, especially if it persuades Amanda, hater of GPS and lover of maps, that having a satellite navigation system doesn’t take the fun out of driving… There’s a challenge for you.

Ping me in the comments, or at armand [at] division6.co.uk.