It feels as if we've been predicting the end of the sat nav for years, and yet here we are, taking another one out for testing on the open road. The smartphone may offer the next best solution, but plenty of drivers still prefer a dedicated navigation device for getting from A to B.
It's a category that TomTom still excels in, and the TomTom Go 50 is a robust sat nav that is designed to be a friend to your smartphone, not a rival. You see, TomTom's done something quite clever here: it's made its Go 50 more affordable by making it reliant on your phone for some of its information.
The idea of a sat nav that needs a phone might sound absurd, but the result is a solid device that feels feature-rich despite being a mid-ranger that you can currently pick up for around £110.
Design and features
Sat nav size is a matter of personal preference, but at five inches the Go 50 should be big enough for most people. However, as the resistive touchscreen reflects, this isn't a premium piece of kit.
It's unlikely that you care too much about the build quality of your sat nav, but the choice of touchscreen type does mean it's a bit less responsive than we'd like.
It makes navigating the interface a little more sluggish than we'd want, which can be a tad frustrating when you hit the wrong thing – or just want to get going. However, the display is perfectly visible and you've also got the option of voice recognition if you want it – and it actually works quite well.
The Go 50 is what TomTom calls a 'smartphone connected' device. It sucks its TomTom Traffic and Speed Cameras information – the more timely info – from your phone via a Bluetooth connection.
Before you start worrying about data allowances, TomTom says an hour a day of driving in peak traffic should use up only about 7MB of data.
Without that tether, you're going to be lacking some of the up-to-the-minute data, including live traffic and weather updates, the latter of which can be useful in rerouting you if a road is likely to be affected by poor conditions.
Live traffic is probably most vital, and uses different colours to display the severity of what lies ahead, as well as an estimated delay time and possible alternate routes. The good news is that by buying the Go 50 you get a lifetime subscription to TomTom's traffic service.
A couple of years ago, TomTom gave its sat nav interface a rejig, and the result might take a little getting used to for anyone switching over from a Garmin or other manufacturer.
TomTom is now about putting the map first and menus second – rather than the other way around. It means you'll always dive straight into the map when booting up the nav, with an interface that's heavy on the icons.
TomTom's new and improved 3D maps for certain major cities also make on-screen navigation a bit more lifelike, and prove helpful with finding smaller roads, landmarks and certain points of interest. However, TomTom is careful not to make things cluttered; the driving route is always clear to see, never obstructed.
Points of interest – petrol stations, hotels, etc – and lane assistance (which helps you get into the right lane before a roundabout) are among the Go 50's stronger features; while the more basic things, such as a speed indicator shown along the bottom of the screen, and estimated arrival time (top right), are also present.
Some people might prefer to use their smartphone as a sat nav, but there's definitely still a market for dedicated devices. Using a phone can be fiddly without the right equipment, while coverage can sometimes be a problem, too – especially if you're driving abroad.
You'll want a smartphone connected to make the most of the Go 50, though. Yes, you'll get offline maps for all of Europe without it, but without live traffic updates and other timely information you're left with just a stripped-down budget sat nav with a couple of nifty features chucked in.
The TomTom Go 50 is a great sat nav for the price – for which you get a big screen, lifetime TomTom Traffic and a roster of other great features. So long as you have a compatible phone to enjoy the up-to-date information, it's a worthy purchase.