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Side by side test - TT730 & Nuvi765T - Results

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 22, 2009 5:07 pm    Post subject: Side by side test - TT730 & Nuvi765T - Results Reply with quote


Right, I'm going to do something useful (about time my wife would say...)

I have recently written here that I simply couldn't decide between the TomTom 730 and a Garmin Nuvi 765T. So, I thought to only way to be sure was to get one of each and try them next to each other in real time over a good long journey. Here are my findings:

Both units were purchased a couple of days ago. A quick online check revealed that the Garmin was fully up to date and the TT was running map 8.01. So, the TT was slightly out of date in both operating system and map revision. Other than that, I did not change anything.

The test route was from a small village near Thetford, Suffolk to a particular house in Abingdon, Oxford.

My only planning criteria were for a fast route, not necessarily the shortest and I entered the final house number and full address into each unit.
The TT planned a route via the A14, A11, M11, M25, M40, A40 which although not the shortest, it's probably what I would have gone for because it would offer the most high speed cruising with the least potential for problems on relatively minor roads. It is of course a gamble where any motorways are concerned these days.

The Garmin planned a route that went A14, A428 then Bedford, Milton Keynes etc. This is quite a few miles shorter but involves numerous roundabouts and known bottle necks and is not what I would choose, however tempting the shorter distance is. I tried by various methods and criteria to persuade the Garmin to create a better alternative but it was not playing ball. I even tried spelling the route out to it junction by junction but this was proving to be very time consuming.

In essence, it was already becoming clear that the TT was easier to use and was more cleaver when it came to planning.

The journey
For the journey I had both units set up in the car and the Garmin was attached to its traffic receiver via the car power socket.

By this time both units had exactly the same route programmed into them to make the test useful, after much swearing at the Garmin I might add.

I noticed right away that the ETAs differed by 20 mins, the Garmin offering the earlier of the two. I found this surprising but expected both units to re-evaluate enroute. It was clear that after 30 mins of travelling though that the Garmin was sticking to its guns. It turned out that the TT was correct within a margin of 1 minute having made minor corrections when I encountered slow traffic a few times. The Garmin didn't cotton on throughout the journey and only got within 5 mins once I had arrived! So, no points there then.

The voice instructions from each were both clear, although the Garmin did offer slightly more useful detail at certain points which the TT did not mention. Right away it was obvious that the TT can display more timing and distance info on the map screen than the Garmin. The info is available in the Garmin but you have to go looking for it which is irritating.

The Garmin's screen is very nicely presented with vivid colours but in 3D mode it somehow doesn't give you the spatial awareness as effectively as the TT does. For instance, the TT shows individual components of interchanges and junctions more clearly than the Garmin, regardless of zoom setting. The detail is in the Garmin but you have to zoom in a lot more to see it. In doing so, you loose a lot of the big picture. I played with the zoom a lot on the Garmin hoping that it would 'learn' my preference, but it didn't and the auto zoom levels it choose were consistently not the best for the circumstances.

The Garmin did however, display more information about which road you are turning onto next and earlier than the TT. This was very useful. The TT tends to tell you which junction you are leaving at but not much about the number of the road you are going to until much later.

The Traffic feature included on the Garmin was something I was looking forward to seeing in action. This is not a feature of the TT unless you buy the 'T' version which I did not. You can buy the kit though for another 40 quid or so. Problem is, this makes the price of the TT much nearer the additional expense of the Garmin. However, the Garmin's traffic information proved to be somewhat ineffective. I encountered several jams more than a couple of miles long, both of which I heard about on the radio 40 mins before reaching them, so they were known about. The Garmin made no mention of them and ploughed me right in to them. Of course, the TT may have been as bad if I had the traffic kit fitted. I don't know.

I used the internal speaker on each throughout. Once again, the Garmin unit was not as clear or loud as the TT. In addition, the TT's voice is a little less robotic sounding than the Garmin's.

Once I was near the destination, the TT sent me down a road that had a permanent bollard closure. It looks like it's been that way for a few years so this is not an issue as a result of the TT not being fully up to date. The Garmin also failed to spot this and sent me the same way. However, when I backed out to find a road I could go along, the TT had already sorted out an alternate which proved to be as direct as was possible. It then gave me updated instructions on how to get there. The Garmin just went into meltdown and kept insisting that I went back to the original route. Then, it kept on re-planning over and over again which interfered with the voice instructions and meant I had to stop the car to let it sort itself out. It did eventually and it sent me on a better route, although not as directly at the TT.

I arrived. Both units would have got me there but the TT did it far more efficiently!

You know, I really wanted the Garmin to come out on top because I like the way it's built and I like the clarity and the smoothness of the screen rendering. It also allows me to make proper hands free phone calls through the FM transmitter and the car speakers. The TT has now disabled the FM function (in the latest update) for instructions and the hands free calling uses the internal speaker which simply isn't loud enough to do the job on the motorway. My car is not noisy being a big modern German saloon but using the speaker phone on my mobile proved to be a much better solution than the TT could offer. Also, once I had made a voice call on the TT, the voice instructions stopped working and I had to restart the unit which was a bit of a bug I guess.

The Garmin also has a neat fuel computer and some other more useful features relating to POI etc. I like the design of the Garmin because it is slim and the finish is better (in my opinion). Plus, my dealings with TT support, however minimal so far have proved to be a real pain. Garmin on the other hand are much better here.

It's a tricky job creating a machine that can navigate you around our roads with all of the unknowns and variables we encounter. In fact, as we are always being told, the only thing that can truly do the job properly is our spouse (apparently Smile) However, from the point of view of just doing the job efficiently with the minimum of hassle, I found the TT to be just plain better.

It was easier to set up, it presented the information more completely and more clearly and I ended up trusting it a lot more.

It's not a scientific experiment but it was very representative for the kind of driving that I do. I'm not a heavy user so I could not justify the expense of a unit with even more bells and whistles. The fact that I really wanted the Garmin to be better but ended up wanting to keep the TT probably says it all. So, back to the shop with the Garmin and update downloads for the TT.

Best wishes,

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 23, 2009 12:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting as it agrees with my findings (not that I have done a side by side test as you have.

I'm a fairly long term TomTom user (PDA originally then TomTom one original which I still have) but recently bought a GArmin Zumo. Now the Zumo is a lovely bit of kit, really well made, feels better in the hand than the TomTom, have much better battery life, good clear screen etc etc and of course it fully waterproof as it designed for use on bikes (which is why I bought it) but,....

as you point out the routing is not quite as good, and the clarity of the junctions is not as good, I used the Zumo (in the car) this evening to get back from Woburn Sands to WestCroft MK and then on to Hanslope and at 3 roundabouts I ended up taking one exit to early as it's not as clear as the TomTom.

I was hoping i'd be able to just use the Zumo rather than having 2 SatNavs but I reckon I'm going to keep the TomTom for use in the car, no least becasue I have Ozzie Osbourne directing me Very Happy and you can't do that with the Zumo.
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