With the roads in South Africa constantly changing, adding more turn-offs and creating new ones, it’s become rather important to have a trusty GPS unit to guide you along the way. It’s true that most phones these days have navigation applications built-in, like the Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc and BlackBerry smartphones among others, but nothing beats the real thing.
For years Garmin has been the most popular unit in the US, where as TomTom has squarely taken over the European markets. Luckily South Africans have a rather wide variety to choose from, but the TomTom 120 Live is by far one of the best units up for offer.
Before driving away, the unit clips rather neatly into the suction holder, which just as easily secures to a vehicle’s window. The suction cup is different to other units, as it uses a twisting motion to create suction, instead of using a tradition clip.
Turning the device on, users should notice that the device collects information from overhead satellites rather quickly, which is very important for people on the go. There is nothing worse than waiting up to 10 minutes before a unit locates navigation satellites. The 120 Live also remembers the last position it was used, so switching it back on after turning it off will result in a much quicker boot-up time.
Operating a GPS can be intimidating to some users, and while the Live 120 isn’t the most user- friendly, it is easy to navigate once the user remembers where all the functions are and how to move around the menus.
With the tap of a single button, the unit is ready to take co-ordinates or an address. The unit uses a form of predictive text coupled with a smart sense for suburbs, so inputting “Ho” should bring up a list of suburbs in my vicinity, including Houghton. It can also take postal codes, just in case a user isn’t too sure where they are going.
It’s not advised to fiddle with any GPS unit while driving, but it’s become a bit easier with the Live 120 as it uses a voice command system. Users just need to say “Voice Command”, and read off the chosen options from the GPS’ screen. It’s great, as the user will be able to keep their eyes on the road while still operating the GPS in traffic.
Speaking of traffic, the unit comes with TomTom HD Traffic. The function allows the user to navigate around delays and accidents, as the units clearly shows on the main page where all the delays are located and the expected time it will add onto a journey. It also updates every two minutes, so it’s rather impressive.
Following directions when driving with the device is as easy as 1, 2, 3, and a whole host of voices can guide drivers to their final destination. The Live 120 also makes use of advanced lane guidance, which is a rather nifty feature, especially on South African roads. What it does is display the correct turn-off on highways, but instead of just showing when to turn, it displays the over-head sign and an arrow clearly points in which direction you should turn. For added guidance, the unit also has the option for road names to be pronounced, and while some come out a bit dodgy, it’s a nice feature.
The TomTom Live 120 is a great GPS unit, as it’s easy to navigate (after a short struggle session), the visuals are fantastic and it boots up very quickly. No unit is perfect, but as far as GPS units go, this one comes close.
Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor