Monday, October 5, 2015

TomTom Rider Upgrade?

I've provided a series of reports in this blog on my TomTom Rider that I purchased from RevZilla back in May 2015. It now has almost 13,000 miles under its belt and has done an outstanding job!

I purchased the Gen5 TomTom Rider from Revzilla for $399.99 at a time when I knew that a next generation Rider (the TomTom Rider 400) was forthcoming (it was already out in Europe at that time). However, I was in dire need of a SatNav at the time due to a failing Nuvi and the price of the Rider was hundreds of dollars less than competing motorcycle-friendly models.

It appears that the Rider 400 finally made its release in the United States and RevZilla has it for $499.99. Being a new TomTom fan, I was interested to take a closer look and see if, perhaps, an upgrade to this new version may be in order.

Now bear in mind that I DO NOT OWN a Rider 400. The information that I acquired about the 400 was from online reviews and its operation manual, which is as extensive as the regular Rider's operation manual. It's that information that I had to compare the Rider 400 to my Gen5 TomTom Rider. There are many differences of course, but below are the areas and topics that caught my attention.

Style and Screen Size:

The 400 is certainly more stylish looking than my Gen5 and has landscape-to-portrait view functionality that I understand becomes useful to expand the view of the horizon. That is, in portrait you can see further ahead such as in the photo example above. However, the 400's screen size in no bigger than the Gen5 Rider. Both the Gen5 and 400 list diagonal screen sizes at 4.3 inches. Plus the 400 lacks the sun visor.

If you want my thoughts, the 400 Rider is looking a little too much like an application-rich cell phone, sort of like my Nokia Whateverthefuckitis that also has AT&T Navigation and Travel Support. However, at the moment, I'm reviewing/considering a motorcycle-specific SatNav device where I expect navigation and travel support are given priority above everything else, unlike my Nokia that is so full of crap in its attempt to please everyone rather than a dedicated audience. But I digress.

Internal Memory:

It's a computer after all, so the internal memory size on the SatNavs is as important as if you were building your laptop on Dell. In this area, 400 really jumps out. In designing the 400, TomTom quadrupled the 4.0GB internal memory of the Gen5 to 16.0GB and added a memory card slot that the Gen5 does not have. That's quite an improvement and I think it will be important as map sizes get more detail and increase. For the record, the problem I had with my Garmin Nuvi is that it's internal memory could no longer support Garmin Map upgrades, which had simply become too big in terms of data size. I could have pieced regional maps on memory cards, but that would have been a pain in the rear. Not that I'd necessarily do it, but the piecemeal approach won't ever be an option on the Gen5 because it doesn't even have a memory card reader.

As far as currently functionality, it should be noted that ... as I understand this ... the 4.0GB memory card in the Gen5 had 3.0GB of unused memory available for maps and other uploads. In addition, that unused memory would presumably support uploaded navigation of approximately 10,000 waypoints. Okay, that's essentially saying that, if you just use the Gen5 Rider for navigation planning, there's almost no way that you couldn't have enough memory unless you're somehow engaged in stellar navigation. On the other hand, if you start uploading a bunch of other stuff like applications (e.g. the voice app of John Cleese of Monty Python fame) and pictures, perhaps you could end up taxing the Gen5 Rider way before its time!

Navigation Functions:

Navigation is what it's all about. Navigation is all about finding a way to your destination or finding a destination that meets your current criteria (e.g. find me the nearest gas station!!!!) and getting you there. All SatNav devices have multiple ways for operators to do that.

The Gen5 provides for navigation to/from:

  • Home
  • Street Addresses
  • Recent Destinations
  • Favorites
  • City Centers
  • Zip Codes
  • Points of Interest or POI (gas stations, hotels, restaurants, POI search)

Routes may be planned in advance using the Tyre to Travel Software and then loaded into the Gen5 as what are called Itineraries. Essentially, each itinerary is a series of waypoints and, as previously mentioned, you can load up to 10,000 waypoints in memory. The Gen5 also has a Winding Routes feature that provides a sliding scale against which navigation is focused on more or less winding types of roads.

The Rider 400 provides for all those ^ functions and has added a few:

  • Work Location
  • Parking Lots
  • Points of Interest, number of icons greatly expanded

It's unclear to me whether the total number of POI types were expanded that much, but I can see that there are a few categories that I don't have on my Gen5, such as Solicitors (I think that means lawyers). On the other hand, the number of icons has been greatly expanded. On the Gen5, we have three basic icons: Hotels, Gas Stations and Restaurants. From there we have to go to the POI Search window where all the other categories are embedded (hospitals, post offices, repair stations, attractions, on and on and on). The Rider 400 sort of flipped that around so you have many, many POI Icons to scroll through. How many? 90!!! See pages 63 through 67 of the operating manual. Dang! That's a lot of icons to scroll through if you ask me.

Planning itinerary routes continues to use Tyre to Travel, but the operation manual seems to indicate that Tyre Pro should be used. Typically Tyre Pro is the upgrade version that is offered for sale. It appears from this FAQ that TomTom is issuing vouchers for this application to new TomTom Rider 400 purchasers. It's unclear to me what exactly is needed to use Tyre or how much, if any, the new owner has to pay. Either way, I can advise that Tyre to Travel has been an outstanding application to use in my travel planning and recommend it highly. If TomTom is paying for it, take them up on it.

While the Rider 400 continues to offer Winding Route Navigation, it now has a new navigation function called Thrilling Routes! According to the operating manual, "A Thrilling Route is a route that uses interesting or challenging roads and uses as few motorways as possible. You can choose the level of turns included in your ride, and also the degree of hilliness." I think motorway would be the equivalent of Interstate highways here in the US. It goes on to say that Thrilling Routes can only be provided as "round trips."

Well okay, but let me tell you something about these specialty navigation functions like Winding Routes and Thrilling Routes; they're only as winding and thrilling as the roads in the general vicinity. How thrilling are roads that are on your home turf really going to be and do you think winding roads that you're not already aware of are going to turn up? Doubt it. If you take these navigation tools to places you're unfamiliar with, you really don't know where you're going or what you're missing. As an alternative, I'd suggest a little online research to identify motorcycling loops of the type that you might be interested in. Then work up an itinerary that fits your riding style and competency.

TomTom Traffic:

New to the Rider 400 is TomTom Traffic, which is a service providing real-time traffic information. This application is designed to help plan out routes and, as it receives information on changing traffic conditions, the Rider 400 will offer to re-route you away from jams, accidents, construction and slow moving traffic. This feature is offered by other brands, but usually for an additional cost. TomTom is throwing it in.

Of course, you can reroute with the Gen5 in the face of traffic. It has a special feature for that and you can get to it quickly through the Quick Menu. However, there's no advance warning like the new Rider 400 offers. With the Gen5, you react when you see the problem, which may be too late.

Interestingly, I found a lot of reviews of the Rider 400 criticizing the TomTom Traffic function. The criticism came not from the service itself, but from the fact that, unlike other TomTom models offering the same service, the Rider 400 can access the service only through TomTom Services that requires a smart phone that interconnects to the SatNav.

Yeah, I can see that being a problem, especially if you don't have a smart phone.

This photo seems to show the arrangement needed to get traffic and other services working.

Destination Prediction:

Seriously, what?

The Rider 400 has a new feature called Destination Prediction wherein the GPS learns its owners driving habits to saved favorite places and ultimately becomes able to predict (assimilate) destinations.Yup, once again someone thinks we need computers thinking for us. After a so-called learning curve developed from regular driving, the Rider 400 is presumably capable of predicting your planned route and going straight to the mapping of the route with the operator having done nothing other than turning the SatNav on. The operating manual doesn't say how long the learning curve is, but does say that the Rider 400 gets smarter the more its used. Scary!

I swear, it won't be long before all of the destinations that we plug into our GPS devices take us directly to Dairy Queen.

Seriously though, I'm left to wonder why anyone would need satellite navigation to a favorite place that they frequent so often that an electronic device can develop and learn that person's driving pattern. It must be for someone who forgets their way to work ... everyday. The person that needs this function must have CRS ... can't remember shit.

     *     *     *     *     *

So, do I think that an upgrade to the TomTom Rider 400 is in order? Nope, not now anyway.

It's a great looking GPS SatNav and has a lot of nice new Travel Assistance and Navigation Features. I think the more valuable changes that were made in developing the Rider 400 are the improved Travel Assistance Features; that is, more detail and more access to information about "What's out there" including real time information such as the Traffic Alerts. On the other hand, Navigation is navigation and there's only so much anyone can really do to make navigation better. Winding Routes? Thrilling Routes? Destination Prediction? Really? As for Naviation, rather than goofy apps, I'd rather see TomTom get more detail and more accuracy in their maps. Maybe they've fixed the issue with my Gen5 in that it is almost always wrong on speed limits.

I'm also glad that TomTom increased the internal memory and added a memory card slot. That sets the stage for adding all those Travel Features I'm referring to above. I wish that they'd at least have given me an opportunity to use a memory card in my Gen5.

Finally, at $499.99, the Rider 400 has a fairly decent price compared to the competition, whose model run upwards near a grand.

The problem with me making a move to upgrade is that the Rider 400 simply doesn't offer anything not currently available on my Gen5 that I absolutely can't live without. When my Gen5 blows up I will be sure to go straight to TomTom for a replacement.

The Gen5 is a Bargain right now:

Now, having said that above, for you folks who are in the market for a GPS SatNav, RevZilla is selling the TomTom Rider Gen5 for $299.99 and I've seen it selling for less in a couple other places. I paid $399.99 for my Gen5 only five months ago. At $299.99, the predecessor to the new TomTom Rider 400 is an incredible value in my opinion.

Click HERE for links to my reviews and updates of the Gen5 TomTom Rider.

No comments:

Post a Comment