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Car Navigation/GPS Comparison: Garmin vs TomTom

Both Garmin and TomTom are leaders in the GPS industry. They both make quality products with a range of high to low end pricing. TomTom takes the edge in the amount of information you can review on-screen at the same time, and also comes loaded with more maps. Garmin has superior graphics, but some customers complain of intrusive advertisements on their products. Both companies are branching out into other areas of personal navigation devices in order to compete with tablets and smart phones.
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Garmin Maps are made by the same company with leading experience on mobile navigation devices and GPS products, a name we could easily associate with portable navigation equipment and handheld GPS units. The fact that Garmin Maps are being offered owing to Garmin’s partners... read more...
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Cleaner user interface and more comprehensive
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TomTom is the world's leading supplier of in-car navigation products and services, designed to enhance drivers' experiences as they travel. TomTom provides services to many markets: Consumer Automotive Licensing Business Solutions For consumers, navigation systems are provided for the smart... read more...
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Displays more information with two-line status bar
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Review

Navigating Between GPS Devices

Personal navigation devices, (or PNDs, as they are commonly abbreviated) have come a long way in recent years. Despite the fact that many of the benefits of these devices are now readily available as apps for smart phones and tablets, TomTom and Garmin both offer quality, affordable products and remain the leaders in the GPS industry. Standard features in the models of both Garmin and TomTom include 3-D terrain maps, spoken street names, rerouting options, they are loaded with millions of points of interest and offer Bluetooth® connectivity. Higher end models offer even more options. Some key differences between the products offered by these two PND makers comes down to usability issues. Even that's a tightly contested race with devotees of both brands fully siding with their preferred company. Generally speaking, the Garmin line of GPS devices have an easier to use and read interface. Conversely, TomTom devices display more information on the screen with a two-line status bar and does so without the advertisements. They also come loaded with more maps. What follows is a breakdown of three different GPS products offered by both companies broken down by price range; low, mid and high.

Garmin

As more and more GPS functions become available on phones and tablets, Garmin is staying competitive by marketing PNDs to runners, swimmers and golfers. Garmin features maps for roads, hiking trails and waterways and sells maps and devices catering to these sports enthusiasts as well as for drivers. You can save 15% on fitness accessories through their site. All their models are known for a readable and clean interface with great looking graphics displayed on long-lasting devices. 

TomTom

Tom Tom has remained at the forefront of the GPS industry by making great, easy to use products that display maximum information for drivers. As for entertaining rides, if you'd like to have Bert & Ernie or Yoda or Han Solo guide you on your journey then that is within your powers as Tom Tom offers downloadable celebrity voices. Realizing that many people forego the permanent car GPS for even more mobile alternatives, TomTom also sells navigation applications for iPhones or iPads and offers 20% off refurbished products as well as savings of up to 30% off on products.

Low End: nüvi® 30 vs. Start 45

nüvi® 30 $109.99

Specs:

  •     Battery: Up to 2 hours
  •     Memory: Internal solid state
  •     Screen size: 2.8"W x 2.1"H
  •     Screen type: QVGA color TFT with white backlight             
  •     Screen resolution: 320 x 240 pixels
  •     Size: 3.8"W x 3.0"H x .8"D
  •     Weight: 4.2 ounces

Key Features:

One of the more affordable models in the Garmin GPS line, the nüvi 30 is lightweight and driver friendly. You still get many of the features that are available in the mid and higher end models, like the touchscreen interface and turn-by-turn directions functions, but at a much more affordable price.

Maps:

While this model does feature some pre-loaded NAVTEQ U.S. maps, you will need to download maps through the map update page on the Garmin website.

Reviews:

The most common complaint about this model is the lack of maps. Additional maps are available for download through the Garmin website.

Start 45 $89.95

Specs:

  • Battery: Up to 3 hours
  • Memory: 2GB internal flash memory
  • Screen size: 4.3" (11 cm)
  • Screen type: LCD Touchscreen
  • Screen resolution: 480 x 272 pixels
  • Size: 4.7" x 3.2" x 0.9"
  • Weight: 6.9 ounces

No Bluetooth® connectivity

Key Features:

The Start 45 is the most affordable model of GPS system offered by Tom Tom. With this model, you'll still have the Advanced Lane Guidance, spoken street names and the QuickGPSfix features but also IQ Routes technology to help you pick the best routes. Features 7 millions points of interest including gas stations and hotels.

Maps:

Maps are limited to the U.S. and Canada.

Mid Range: nüvi® 2455LT vs. VIA 1405 Series

nüvi® 2455LT $169.99

Specs:

  •     Battery: Up to 2.5 hours
  •     Memory: Internal solid state
  •     Screen size: 3.81"W x 2.25"H
  •     Screen type: WQVGA color TFT with white backlight
  •     Screen resolution: 480 x 272 pixels
  •     Size: 4.8"W x 2.9"H x .6"D
  •     Weight: 5.0 ounces

Key Features:

The Garmin nüvi® 2455Lver features 8 million points of interest as well as branded icons that appear on the screen as you navigate. photoReal junction views help you negotiate lanes and make the right choices to cut down on traffic times, and the speed limit indicator also assists in travel decisions. Also features Lifetime Traffic updates.

Maps:

Preloaded City Navigator® NT North America (U.S., Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands and Bahamas). Save 20% on Garmin Maps at Garmin US.

Reviews:

Despite some complaints about the advertisements that are a part Lifetime Traffic, reviews of this Garmin system are overall positive on Amazon for this product with well over half the customers who reviewed it giving it 4 or 5 stars out of a 5 star rating scale.

VIA 1405 Series $149.95 to $169.95

Specs:

  • Battery: Up to 2 hours autonomous operation
  • Memory: 4GB internal flash memory
  • Screen size: 4.3" (11 cm)
  • Screen type: 16:9 LCD widescreen
  • Screen resolution: 480 x 272 pixels
  • Size: 134 x 93 x 19 mm
  • Weight: 6.4 ounces

No Bluetooth® connectivity

Key Features:

The Tom Tom VIA 1405 Series features a highly sensitive GPS chipset. spoken word names, Advanced Lane Guidance, IQ Routes and QuickGPSfix.

Maps:

Maps cover 100% of the connected roads in US, Canada & Mexico. The VIA 1405 Series also has the Map Share feature and the Tom Tom Latest Map Guarantee, which means you can be sure you have the latest, most up-to-date maps as they become available. 

Reviews:

Only 44% of the GPS users who reviewed this particular Tom Tom system on Amazon would recommend it to others. Common complaints were that the installation and setup were difficult and some found the directions unhelpful.

High End: nüvi® 3490LMT vs. GO 2535 TM WTE

nüvi® 3490LMT  $349.99

Specs:

  •     Battery: Up to 4 hours
  •     Memory: Internal solid state
  •     Screen size: 3.7"W x 2.2"H
  •     Screen type:  WVGA color TFT with white backlight                
  •     Screen resolution: 800 x 480 pixels
  •     Size: 4.8"W x 2.9"H x .35"D
  •     Weight: 4.2 ounces

Key Features:

The nüvi® 3490LMT is the high end of Garmin systems. It features a touchscreen and has Bluetooth® capabilities. This unit also uses Garmin Guidance 3.0, which is Garmin's most advanced mapping system. Navigate traffic lanes more easily with Bird’s Eye and photoReal™ and 3-D terrain views.

Maps:

Free, lifetime map updates are available. You can update you maps up to four times per year without buying a subscription. Additional maps are available for purchase as well.

Reviews:

Customers were generally very pleased with this high end model, especially those who were upgrading from other Garmin models. One reviewer on Amazon even referred to the  the nüvi® 3490LMT as a Mercedes of GPS devices, giving it a 5 out of 5 star rating.

High End: GO 2535 TM WTE $299.95

Specs:

  • Battery: Up to 3 hours
  • Memory: 8 GB internal flash memory
  • Screen size: 5.0" (13 cm)
  • Screen type: 16:9 Capacitive widescreen
  • Screen resolution    WQVGA (480 x 272 pixels)
  • Size: 143 x 88 x 19 mm
  • Weight: 260 grams

Bluetooth® connectivity

Key Features:

There are a few features that are standard with the GO 2535 TM WTE model that you will find in most TomTom systems; the easy click magnetic mounting and the USB charging cable. This model features Bluetooth® connectivity as well, so you can use handsfree calling and drive a little more safely. For U.S. and Canadian drivers the Advanced Lane Guidance feature makes sure you get off on the right exit. This model also announces street names which is great when you are concentrating on immediate traffic navigation (the cars in front of you for instance) and not focused solely on your GPS. And of course this products is covered by the Tom Tom Limited Warranty.

Maps:

According to this tidbit on the TomTom website, "18% of the nation's road information changes every year". That's why the Map Share™ On-Demand Updates are so helpful to your navigational needs. Available in the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Western Europe. TomTom also offers a free download of map updates called the "Latest Map Guarantee" through TomTom HOME.

Reviews:

Some complaints on the TomTom website were that the system is difficult to upgrade and is complicated and not easy to use. Customers who are most satisfied with the system are previous TomTom GPS users who were upgrading from another model. Features the TomTom Limited Warranty. 62% of the people who reviewed the GO 2535 TM WTE on Amazon would recommend device product to a friend.

Conclusion

If you're already a user of either TomTom or Garmin GPS devices, then there is no real reason to switch from one to the other. Unless you find a deal that is too good to pass up, both companies make quality products that serve their customers well. For design freaks looking to make their first GPS purchase, Garmin is the sleeker, better-designed option. However, If you care less about style and more about the amount of information available on one screen or the amount of maps immediately at your disposal, TomTom will be a better fit for you. In addition, a bonus for the cost-conscious consumer, TomTom's low end Start 45 is the better deal over Garmin's low end nüvi 30 model.

Additional Information
Garmin US
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TomTom
TomTom Coupon Code: TTOUTLET2 - Save 20% off Any Refurbished Products - Activate
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TomTom Coupon Code: WELCOME123D - Save $10 off Entire Order - Activate
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Comments (1)

Garmin is the leader in this industry. They have a wide range of products.

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