Personal-navigation-device giant TomTom is joining the connected-GPS club. The Amsterdam-based company today announced plans for a spring debut of the TomTom Go 740 Live, a GPS navigation device with built-in cell phone connectivity for accessing a slew of services that previously required connecting to a PC or a Bluetooth phone. Pioneered by the late, lamented Dash Express (and more recently the TeleNav Shotgun), connected GPS is a product category that is expected to grow in popularity as people enjoy the convenience and value of effortlessly getting current traffic and other relevant travel information in their cars.
The TomTom Live services available at launch include Google local searches for points of interest (including contact information and user-generated ratings when available); fuel-price searches (with information refreshed up to six times a day from 120,000 gas stations across the United States); weather reports; QuickGPSfix (which speeds up location of GPS satellites by using cell-tower info); and a buddy locator for finding family members and friends who also have TomTom devices and service.
The Go 740 will feature a 4.3-inch touch screen (480 by 272 pixels); 2GB internal flash memory plus a microSD slot for additional storage; preloaded Tele Atlas maps of the United States and Canada; Bluetooth (so you can use the unit as a hands-free device with your Bluetooth phone); and a rechargeable internal 3-hour battery. It also accepts voice commands, as well as voice-data input. The unit will come with a preloaded SIM card and a full year of connected services included in the $499 purchase price; the company offered no immediate word on what the service fees would look like thereafter.
The TeleNav Shotgun, in comparison, costs a lot less ($299) but gives you only three free months of service; after that, connected services cost $10 to $12 a month (depending on the length of your prepaid contract). That brings the cost of the device plus services to over $400 for the first year, still less than what you pay for the TomTom Go 740.
Other differences distinguish the two, however. The TeleNav does not accept voice commands (but it does use text-to-speech software to name streets). It also lacks a counterpart to TomTom's Map Share community feature, which allows users to share map corrections (although the feature does not work over the wireless hookup).
On the other hand, at launch the TomTom won't allow you to input destination information via the Web. With the TeleNav, you can type in addresses on a PC, and they automatically sync to the Shotgun--a big plus for trip planners.