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Saturday, 4 October 2014

Garmin v Tom Tom

  Ok. So you want a Sat Nav? Which one to choose?

Believe it or not it may depend on if you want to tour Europe or the U.S.A. Or if you just stay in the UK.

Last year on route to one of my Europe trips, I knew we would be going outside the EU into Poland and the Czech Republic, and my old trustee original Tom Tom 300 
didn't cover them, I stopped off at Halford's and bought the latest Garmin.
Two Sat Navs in one vehicle was too irresistible and to see how they compared or differed was an interesting prospect too. 

I could not help than to be very impressed with the options, displays and layout of the new machine, and of course, as one would expect with development, the smaller mounts and housing too. The display is much brighter than my old machine, so much so, I can't believe it always was so dim in bright light but what about navigation?

There are aspects of the old 300 that I like much better than the new Garmin, but the reverse is also true in other aspects. Madam TomTom is much calmer and clearer in vocal directions, and I can visualise yards better than I can decimals of a mile for example. I also like an ETA as opposed to time to run and the compass direction is very useful even without any mapping. So that even out of area, Tom Tom still gave a compass heading. But why oh why was Madam Garmin losing satellite connection so much when Tom Tom wasn't? If satellites are geo stationary? Why does this happen? And are both systems using different satellites?

Losing Sat Nav on a long leg of motorway with no expected turn offs is quite bearable, but certainly not when negotiating a large metropolis for a specific location, or a series of major intersections. The last thing a safe driver needs is confusion about direction. Garmin dropped out on us so regularly in Europe at crucial moments, I was so glad that I still had Madam Tom Tom guiding us in instead.

So if you ask me 'Which one to buy?'. For Europe it has to be TomTom.

But I will add that a lesson learned when staying in a large city, is to always carry city street maps so that if Sat Nav fails, as both did one night just before negotiating Paris, you can at least revert to the old fashioned method. We now have maps of Paris, Vienna, Zurich, Geneva, Prague and Dresden in our door compartments because Sat Nav can be very unpredictable no matter which brand.


  1. Keith, Poland and Czech Republic joined the EU way back in 2004, over 10 years ago, so you did not travel outside the EU last year. I use the Garmin Nuvi 3790T with the full European Lifetime Maps free updates, of which I am on 2015/2 now.

    The first Garmin GPS I owned was in 1996, a GPS III and the latest 3790T is by far the best, although it was £300 plus when I got it in 2012. It has full street level map of every European country except Moldova, Belarus and Russia, although, even there it has the major roads in those countries' main cities.

    It has taken me round Belgrade, Sofia, Bucharest, Skopje, Tirana, Lviv, Podgorica, Zagreb, Sarajevo, Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, Oslo, Bratislava, Vienna etc etc and never lost lock except in tunnels. By far the best in my opinion and also great in pedestrian mode, so no paper maps are required.

    1. Oh yes of course I meant the Eurozone, where Euro is currency, plus Switzerland Simon. It's only my personal experience and is good to have a differing one on this.

  2. By email:Isn’t it strange, I too have a TomTom and a Garmin. I also think the TomTom is the better of the two. The TomTom usually routes me as I would have expected but the Garmin chooses some really strange routes, it also treats Scotland as another country ( it very nearly was, so Garmin was ahead of its time but is incorrect). The first time I fed in a Scottish post code and it was unable to recognise it really threw me for a couple of minutes until I realized what was going on. The Garmin database is also not as comprehensive as the TomTom as far as the UK is concerned, so like you I tend to use the TomTom more than the Garmin. I now tend to use my mobile app Co-Pilot on my smart phone in the car just for a change.