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PNDs are not dead. The surprising review of modern navigation device (TomTom GO 50)

Over the last years I had quite straightforward opinion about PNDs. Me and most people I know use smartphone as main navigation device from at least 5 years. Old PNDs that came across my way during that time had poor quality hardware and even worse user experience. Slow, ugly, simply terrible… For me PNDs were dead.

Two months ago I’ve joined TomTom (in a department responsible for data capturing, not consumer devices). As a self confess gadget addict I’ve turned to marketing department and started testing TomTom’s hardware. My main focus went to TomTom’s fitness watches, which are really cool (but I will comment on that topic later this year). I didn’t really think about playing with old PNDs. But somehow I did.

Last week I took for testing TomTom GO 50, which is entry-level PND model. For me this was a biggest gadget surprise this year. This is why.


pobraneWhen I was using my last PND it was looking more or less like the example on right. Not only the device itself but also the windshield mount and the user experience of the software seemed to say: “Made in China”. My surprise was really huge when I took in hands TomTom’s device. It has a really high build quality with windshield mount kit better than the one I’m using for my iPhone.

The device has a large 5-inch screen on the front and big, loud speaker on the back. I makes a really good impression. And this is said by a person who would always choose the iPhone and HTC One over plastic Samsung smartphones. But still my favorite part is windshield mount which is small, high quality and very practical. You just twist it and it sticks to the window or dashboard. Simple and easy.






Another surprise came when I started the device. I was expecting old school grid menu and ugly maps… but the system was looking much more like a modern smartphone design. It did resemble any of the old-school PND user experience the times I had Windows XP installed on my PC. It’s really fast, easy and very good looking. I didn’t expect that at all. Of course the screen is not as responsive as on a smartphone but the over all experience is really good, especially when we’re talking about entry-level model you can buy for less than $130.




When it comes to map design I believe that TomTom is far ahead of the competition. Even Google Maps app doesn’t look that good. One of the coolest features is “the line view” on the right which shows you traffic information and point-of-interest along your way. Very simple but extremely useful.




When it comes to road data quality TomTom is one of the global leaders.  The company releases 4 map updates per year and with the device you get Lifetime map updates. You can also connect the device to smartphone and get free real-time traffic information. There is really not much to add…


For me it turned to be the biggest gadget surprise this year. I was expecting to travel back in time (at least 5 years) to play with stone-age technology. I didn’t think that I’d ever want to own a PND again. But I do. Why? First of all it is not always convenient to use your smartphone for everything while you’re driving. Second of all I’ve noticed that this year my iPhone was getting extremely hot during summer when running Google Maps. As an effect it didn’t charge in a car, which left me without a phone (and camera) when I’ve reached my summer destination at least few times. Finally it’s a really cool piece of hardware with great over all user experience. I guess that from now on I will stop skipping PND department in electronic stores. I might find something even cooler.

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