TomTom 340s XL GPS
The TomTom 340s XL GPS has been in my possession for an extended period of time. I have used it for two trips from Nova Scotia to Florida, while there, and for all kinds of intermediate trips. Even though there are a few negatives, it has proven to be a constant traveling companion.
Downgraded to four roses due to frequent falling from its mount, and extreme difficulties getting the tiny usb connection connected.
The .TomTom 340s XL GPS comes in a small square blue box that seems like the company has paid attention to efficient packaging.
Included in the box are an instruction manual, and accessory manual, vehicle cable, computer cable, the mount with an adhesive disc and the main unit.
You will notice there is no software disc in the package. As soon as you connect the unit to your computer you are instructed to download the latest *software. The url is also in the manual should it not pick up the web site automatically.
* If you are familiar with how the Harmony remote software works for programming the Logitech/Harmony remotes from the internet, the TomTom GPS works in a similar manner.
This is the TomTom software you download from the internet, allowing you to add maps, make adjustments, check for updates and much more.
It is very user friendly.
You can also plan trips and do other tasks right from the computer should you so desire. A very handy option, especially if you have a note book computer that you take with you.
The TomTom mount is a small circular device that easily clips on the back of the head unit. It has the typical suction mount for mounting on the windshield or on an adhesive disc that is also included.
A quick twist of the large knob securely locks the GPS in place.
The mounting bracket folds neatly against the head unit for easy storage so you can take the whole thing with you.
It is easy to remove should you only wish to take the head unit with you, which is what I prefer.
Update: Oct. 2011 - The mount is getting less reliable as time goes on, with the unit often falling while driving. Spotless cleaning of each surface only helps temporarly.
See how we solved this problem with a Nexxtech GPS clamp style mount.
Because I drive an SUV I prefer to mount the TomTom 340 on the included adhesive disc, moving it forward closer to the driver.
This makes it easier to use and avoids reflections making clear visibility much easier. This would depend on your vehicle and how much dash area is between you and the windshield.
The TomTom 340s shows an enormous amount of data (not shown here, but described below)
Street names and information which would appear in the blue area, is in large print and very easy to see at a glance.
TomTom 340 menus are very easy to see and understand.
The touch sensitivity is perfect, with the unit responding just as you think it should, with no missed taps or taps that you didn't expect.
You can read the details on the TomTom 340s XL web site. i will just mention some of the features I think are above the rest in my use of the TomTom.
Lane Marking - One of the newer features on GPS units and I wondered if it would be worth a premium price. Well it certainly is. The highway sign you are looking for appears at the top right of the screen. When you get close to your exit, 3D green lane arrows point out the exact lane you are to be in, whether one, two or more lanes are available for your turn, making complicated interchanges easy.
Text to Speech - which means spoken street names. The TomTom 340s is very accurate even on complicated names. You can select from a library of voices. And the voice has automatic volume control like many stereos have. As you go faster and the noise increases, the volume of the voice increases so that it is always at the same hearing level, making it easily understandable at any speed.
Speed Zone Signs - Your speed is displayed beside the actuial speed limit for comparison. If you exceed the speed limit you can preset an alarm to go off, and the actual speed numbers flash red. The speed zones are accurate as can be, often changing exactly were the speed limit sign is posted. Some secondary roads do not display the speed limit sign, but for major roads of any type it was always there.
If You Make A Wrong Turn - That shouldn't happen if you have a GPS right? Well I couldn't make a lane change at one time because of heavy traffic and had to continue straight and miss a turn. The TomTom never missed a beat, recalculating in seconds, leading me around a couple side streets and back on to my intended route.
Demo Your Trip - One thing I really like about the TomTom is you can watch a demo of your trip in several ways. It will show an overall map of where you are going. It will list turn by turn in text format, or you can scroll through each slide turn by turn. The part I really like is you can go through the entire trip in demo mode just as if you were driving it, like watching an animated movie. Really good for letting you know what to expect during the real trip.
Itinerary - This TomTom GPS lets you plan a long trip by putting in numerous points where you would like to stop along the way. Where you want to stop each day, or each hour, it doesn't matter. You can even put in way points, where you just want to drive by something that you would like to see.
Alternate Routes - The 340s is very quick if you wish to select an alternate route, taking only seconds to display the alternate once you request it by tapping the menu button.
There are many more things to like about the TomTom 340s XL. You can find complete details on their web site. It has all the things common to the majority of GPS units today and a lot that others don't have. If you travel to difficult places, or just in your own city, this TomTom is worth the price.
TomTom 340s XL Negatives - After extended use I have found some minor negative issues.
1) It sometimes takes a long time to find the satellites when first powered up compared to other brands I have used. We are talking from a few minutes to as much as five minutes or more. If you pay attention to the pdf manual, there is a procedure that may speed this up.
2) Connecting the power cord to the head unit can be a real hassle. Sometimes it slides in so quickly you don't even know it connected. The majority of times it takes a minute or two of fumbling around to get the connector in the exact position before it slides home. (Long term use notice: As the unit gets older and the connector worn, the fumbling time is even longer.)
3) It is easy to pop the head unit out of the circular mount when all you want to do is adjust the angle slightly to avoid reflections. This can be a real hassle and even dangerous should you do this while driving. (I solved this to a degree by sometimes mounting the entire unit on a Nav mat that can be moved around easily to any angle while stopped or driving.)
See how we solved this problem with a Nexxtech GPS clamp style mount.
4) As with most GPS devices, it is not perfect. At times it will insist you follow a certain route that you know is wrong, or know you don't want to take. For example, on two trips from Nova Scotia to Florida it insisted I take I-95 via New York rather than the chosen I-81 that I wanted to avoid New York traffic.
(As a balance, the TomTom 340s XL got me out of some places where I was totally mixed up by using streets and parking lots that I didn't even think were roads at all, which put me back on track very quickly.)
5) I have had one map update go wrong using TomTom Home. After downloading, the maps didn't work very well, and all my normal voices were lost, with it defaulting to a British female voice. Re-running the update several days later corrected the mismatch and returned things to normal.
Long Term Update:
I have used the TomTom 340S on two 2500 kilometre/1600 mile trips from Nova Scotia, Ca. to Florida, USA. It made the trip a breeze all the way. The highway sign indications are a big help, letting you know what highway signs to look for in advance.
In addition I have used the TomTom for touring the entire state of Florida as far as the Florida Keys.
The green animated lane arrows that enlarge as you approach interchanges is a blessing in disguise, letting you know whether there is a single lane, two or more at your exit.
The POI (points of interest) let you find most any normal thing needed during your trip and at your destination.
One source of irritation is it is a little difficult to choose a different highway or interstate that you want to take. Depending on your preference settings, it often insists you take the shortest route anyway. Choosing an alternate route that you prefer personally may take several tries even if you program way points along your preferred route. (Tyre mentioned in Method #2 below helps.)
Transfer Google Maps To TomTom Method #1
One process that you may not be aware of is you can program your route using Google maps on your notebook computer and transfer the Google route map to your TomTom using the TomTom Home software.
This is great because you can check various routes in Google Maps by dragging the route from one highway to another with your mouse. Once you determine your preference load it into TomTom.
To do this, plan your trip as usual using Google Maps. Once your are satisfied with your selection, Click Send>GPS and then select TomTom from the drop down list.
This can be very handy, especially when traveling with your notebook or netbook in hand.
(I have only had limited success with this method, it sometimes takes a try or two before it appears correctly in the TomTom.)
Transfer Google Maps To TomTom Method #2
I recently discovered a program called Tyre. This is a program that does itinerary planning to help you plan your routes. It is a free program (donations accepted) that allows you to set up routes on your computer by integrating Google maps and then transferring your trip to the TomTom when you are satisfied it is complete.
It tells you how it works, and how to do it on their web site, so no need to repeat that here. It uses Google maps to assist you planning the itinerary points of your trip. Then the places are transferred to your GPS and the maps on your GPS are used to repeat the trip on your GPS model.
It seems to work very well once you get on to it. You can use the TomTom Home program to transfer the planned itinerary to your GPS unit once you have it perfected, or just use Windows Explorer or FreeCommander to do the transfer to the proper folder on the GPS.
ConclusionOverall I would still rate the TomTom 340S GPS high. It will make your travels much more effortless and pleasurable, both for every day trips close to home, and those that take you hundreds of miles away.
|No elaborate scientific setups here. No special laboratory equipment. Just honest in use every day setups that my friends or I use, or have used in our every day computing activities.|