From Garmin to TomTom

For the last years, I used 2 Garmin Zumos and then, with the BMW RT, I got first the Navigator V and then later the Navigator VI, BMW branded versions of Garmin hardware.

In all that time, all the devices have shown the same set of problems:

  • Random Crashes during the drive. You plan a route, you follow the directions, and eventually, the system just reboots with no reason. This does not happen often, sometimes months go by. But everytime it did happen, it leaves me annoyed to no end. Especially because of the next point.
  • Slowness. The startup time of those devices is abmysal.
  • Slowness. Sometimes, it takes 10min to get a GPS fix, while the sky is blue, the birds are singing, I drive around with no idea where to go to. For 10, even 15 minutes.
  • Basecamp. If there ever was a piece of software that I hate with a passion, it’s that. Unintuitive (there are actually courses about it), buggy. The simple act of “let’s find an adress” is a chore. This software has not really gotten any updates or even facelifts since the dawn of computing.

I carried the Nav VI with me to the Tiger. The new cradle was rather large and ugly, but I did not want to replace a working (hah) navigation system for no reason.

Until 2 weeks ago, when I wanted to do a simple route for a 3 hour weekend trip. It took the Nav VI again until I was in the towncenter to figure out where we are. That was the last time, I told myself. So I ordered a TomTom Rider 550. It was easy enough to replace the cradle and get the Rider installed.

The screen is smaller, of course, especially compared to the new Garmin Zumo XT monstrosity. Having a 5.5 in screen is making that screen more important as the instrument panel of the motorcycle, and i don’t think that’s warranted. Beside that pure and loathing hatred i feel for Garmin by now, the so far observed points about the TomTom are:

  • Spped. It boots up fast.
  • Speed. It get’s the GPS position in < 30sec so far in every try.
  • Built in Wifi. I just take the Rider back into a house, press update, and it get’s new updates, firmware, maps without trying to find the micro USB cable.
  • Built in Wifi. Using the web based planning software and syncing to the device is just pure gold. I added an adress, and it took mere seconds until the adress was on the device. Automatically.
  • Screen. Not as good as the BMW Nav VI. Especially in bright sunlight, the TomTom looses against modern Garmin devices.
  • Voice output. Here in Switzerland, very good. Have not had a chance yet to use it in a foreign country.

So far i am impressed. For the money it is, for me, a far better experience than the Nav VI, or any of the other recent garmin zumo’s I owned.

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