Handheld and automotive GPS devices are a shrinking market nowadays as people start to rely more on their smartphones and tablets. Today’s midrange and high-end devices are indeed capable of handling mapping whether you are walking or driving and users of these mobile devices have access to hundreds of apps that take advantage of the navigation hardware. This is something that GPS devices falter at but it isn’t enough to cut off dedicated GPS devices completely. Companies like TomTom are still around and they have a loyal fanbase because of the hard work put into their GPS devices. On the hardware side, GPS devices still excel in accuracy and ease of use. But deciding what GPS model to get can be a bit tricky and that is why TomTom is simplifying things by coming up with product families like the START series. The START series is obviously meant for starters so the features are minimal making them quite inexpensive as well. The TomTom START 40M is the only 4-inch model in the current series and it hopes to attract in price for those that don’t really need 5-inch GPS navigators.
TomTom doesn’t break any new grounds with the TomTom START 40M in terms of looks. It basically retains the iconic look of its predecessors with the TomTom logo on the bottom, black bezel and slightly arched top. It may feel cheap but this is a device that is expected to be mounted on the car dashboard or windshield anyway. Looks matter more in this regard and the TomTom START 40M looks just fine for a budget GPS device.
5-inch GPS devices are becoming increasingly common as customers simply want to see more map details from afar but the START 40M isn’t ashamed of its 4.3-inch touch screen. The touch screen is understandably the resistive type so smartphone users that haven’t picked up a dedicated GPS device may feel a bit disappointed at the inability to perform multitouch gestures. Other than that, the TomTom START 40M is exactly what you would expect hardware-wise.
Feature-wise the START 40M is actually pretty impressive. It has a full database of maps all over the United States so you can plan road trips right from the get go. The base maps cover Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands as well. With 7 million points of interest preloaded on to the TomTom START 40M, it is also possible to discover exciting areas ranging from hotels and restaurants to key landmarks in places you are not so familiar with. You can update the maps for free as well for the life of the device so new points of interest can pop up once TomTom issues these updates. The only time where you may have to pay additional fees is if you use the TomTom HOME service to acquire points of interest in areas outside the US.
Planning a route is pretty straightforward and a bit easier than planning a route in a smartphone or tablet since the interface specifically focuses on navigation. The icons are big and it doesn’t take many steps to plan a route despite the slightly sluggish performance. The IQ routes feature attempts to keep the arrival times as accurate as possible so you can really figure out the best possible route to your destination. This is a core feature in many TomTom devices and it is nice that the feature is retained for this particular entry-level model. You may also come up with custom routes in case you have specific needs such as highway and toll avoidance. In case the road conditions suddenly change while traveling through the planned route, the Map Share feature can assist. This can potentially prevent the need in taking inconvenient detours. But if ever detours are required, the TomTom START 40M can still recalculate the next best route to ensure that travel time isn’t affected too much.
As expected with any modern GPS device, the START 40M provides full text-to-speech support so street names can specifically be called out every turn of the way. Whenever you encounter any highways, you can also use the Advanced Lane Guidance feature to let the TomTom START 40M guide you to the proper exit.
Other cool features include free access to fuel prices which should help you find the best gas station deals anywhere there is map coverage. If you experience problems in the road, you can also use the TomTom Roadside Assistance to get in touch with a specialist.
The TomTom START 40M basically has the functionality of a midrange car GPS navigator released a couple years back. Currently, it is represents the entry-level pack as more devices focus more on smartphone connectivity and additional navigation features. This is good news for everyone because the TomTom START 40M only costs $120 and the map updates are forever free.