- Review Date: 06/8/11
- Bottom line:
The TomTom GO 2535 M LIVE isn't perfect, but it offers the best routing and traffic performance you can find today.
Very accurate routing. Lifetime map and traffic updates. Responsive, vibrant display. Improved graphics and on-screen fonts. Clear voice prompts. Highly customizable. No ads.
Low screen resolution. Numerous bugs. Some organizational issues with POIs.
Despite its clumsy name, the TomTom GO 2535 M LIVE ($349.95 direct) is a powerful high-end GPS. It has the best live Internet connectivity we've tested yet, and included in the purchase price, you get lifetime map, traffic, and Google Local, all without annoying ads. It's not perfect, and isn't as slim or sexy as the Garmin nüvi 3790T ($349, 4 stars), which recently received a $100 price cut, but it offers the best routing, audio, and traffic performance on the market today.
Design and POI Searches
Measuring 3.5 by 5.6 by 0.7 inches and weighing 9.2 ounces, the GO 2535 M LIVE is constructed mostly of glass and scratch-resistant black plastic, and includes TomTom's trademark EasyPort mount, which attaches directly to the back of the unit. The 5-inch, glass capacitive touch screen was responsive and accurate in my tests. Its 480-by-272-pixel resolution trails the nüvi 3790T's 800-by-480-pixel display, although the nüvi's panel is seven tenths of an inch smaller diagonally. That said, this display mostly eliminates the faults of the less expensive TomTom VIA 1535 TM ($249.95, 3.5 stars): a stubborn touch screen and sluggish UI response.
Entering addresses and browsing the POI database is simple, but searching for POIs by location remains a pain. For example, if you enter a name like "Staples" or "Trader Joe's," the GO 2535 M LIVE will list them according to distance, but not tell you what direction they're in, or even what city they're in. Pressing the Info button does nothing; it just shows you the name in a larger font. You have to make a guess and choose one, then eyeball the unlabeled overview map to see if you can figure out where it's taking you. It also doesn't offer a continually running update of the nearest POIs (say, coffee shops, or gas stations) as you're driving, which Garmin units do, complete with compass directions.
Map Graphics and Routing Performance
TomTom's 3D navigation view has improved considerably over the past few years. The GO 2535 M LIVE displays the same robust information banner at the bottom as older units, complete with estimated time and distance, current speed, speed limit of the current road, and other information (some of which you can toggle on and off in the comprehensive Settings menu). But TomTom has also increased the font sizes and turn icon sizes, which helps when trying to catch a quick glance while behind the wheel. The lane assistance graphics and 3D views help in navigating complex highway interchanges, and rotaries weren't a problem either. I'd still like to see some more graphical eye candy, such as terrain options, 3D buildings, and sharper road resolution, but that isn't a deal breaker.
Once on the road, the GO 2535 M LIVE's routing performance was sublime. It always locked onto my location within moments. All of my regular test destinations worked as expected, and a few even surprised me. For example, during one test, the adaptive IQ Routes database was smart enough to know that on a Sunday evening, it was faster to travel through downtown Boston than it would have been to approach a destination from the other direction while skirting around the city. This would have been a suicide mission during a weekday rush hour, but it was perfect on a slow weekend.
Live Updates, Traffic, and Some Bugs
The live updates really work, too. One section of I-93 that recently went under construction has a new speed limit of 45mph instead of 55; the GO 2535 M LIVE actually knew that. The GO 2535 M LIVE handles traffic reporting clearly, with a single vertical bar at the right side that keeps you abreast of any congestion ahead. For the most part, this matched what I encountered on the road, and the unit's enhanced HD traffic promises updates every two minutes. Even so, I saw one goof; on a different day, the unit happily sent me onto Boston's Storrow Drive and right into 15 minutes of gridlock.
On the audio front, voice prompts sounded clear and full, with good pacing, no distortion at high volumes, and easily understandable pronunciations for street names and directions.
Several bugs marred my time with the GO 2535 M LIVE. During initial setup, as I was inputting my home address, the unit froze entirely, and required a hard reboot. Another time, it trapped me in a rapid-fire series of Route dialogs; tapping the Done icon to begin driving just flashed the screen and brought the same window back. The live connectivity itself was hit or miss; on at least five occasions during the review, the unit couldn't connect to its live services. While you can configure the GO 2535 M LIVE to shut down with the car ignition, you can't set it to turn on when you start the car. Time after time, this generated several loud beeps and a "charging battery" banner for a few moments, which is ungraceful, if not exactly a bug.
Other Features and Conclusions
The GO 2535 M LIVE contains 4GB of internal flash memory for map storage, as well as a robust sounding Bluetooth hands-free mode in case your car doesn't have one built in. As we've seen with other connected GPS devices, you can't update the unit's maps over the air; you still need to connect it to your PC with the bundled USB cable, which is silly. Since the data connectivity is free and not ad supported, I won't complain too much. The GO 2535 M LIVE also tracks local fuel prices, offers weather forecasts, and contains a separate Google Local Search section. That's nice to have, as it lets you navigate to any results you find; however, it's not integrated with the device's own POI database, and I eventually stopped using it thanks to the spotty Internet connectivity.
Overall, I can see some consumers choosing the TomTom GO 2535 M LIVE over the Garmin nüvi 3790T, but the latter remains our Editors' Choice. The nüvi 3790T is considerably thinner, looks sharper, and offers a higher-resolution, more colorful screen with 3D terrain mapping that blows away the GO 2535 M LIVE's older-style, ray traced maps. That said, the Garmin has no data connectivity aside from traffic reports, and it displays ads, which are a deal breaker for some. And unless you're planning on carrying it around on foot, the thinness and weight don't matter anyway. I'd like to see TomTom address the various bugs and improve data connection reliability. Overall, given its otherwise stellar performance, the GO 2535 M LIVE is a solid, forward-looking choice if you're in the market for a high-end GPS device.