Hardware: big screen, nice finishAlthough the TomTom GO LIVE 825 replaces the VIA LIVE 125, it retains the same shape overall as well as the same technical make-up. We like the new finish of the front of the device, encircled in an aluminium border to very nice effect. The good quality plastics used are nice to the touch and are dirt resistant, while the finish is simply irreproachable (no screws can be seen, no play).
Like most sat navs, the GO LIVE 825 is only delivered with a cigarette lighter adaptor - very compact here - into which you can plug the USB cable that also allows you to link up to a computer. TomTom has moreover reacted to criticism of the sat nav's micro USB link, with a mini adaptor to micro USB now supplied as well. For our part, the micro USB doesn't bother us and we prefer to leave the cable plugged into the sat nav, meaning we don't need to use an adaptor.
New on this GO LIVE 825, a micro SD port has been placed under the TomTom logo. It's well fitted and practical for adding maps.
The windscreen suction mount is very compact and fixed onto the back of the device, which makes it very practical to use and easy to carry around in a bag. This means there's no big mount left in the vehicle, which might be tempting for thieves. It's a shame however that this mount wasn't designed to be removed easily for those who prefer to leave it fixed onto the windscreen rather than carrying it around with the sat nav.
The speaker is at the back of the mount base and gives a clear and audible sound.
The 5-inch matte screen gives good legibility, even in full sunlight. This screen size gives better visibility of the itinerary than the 4.3-inch models. The 480 x 272 pixel definition is sufficient for such a product.
Features: a modern, well-designed interface
The GO LIVE 825 takes less than 5 seconds to turn on and finds a satellite fix in under a minute on average - this depends on where the satellites are placed - just like the GSM network of the LIVE services.
Making your way round the menus is a nice fluid experience, on a par with the GO LIVE 1000, though with a less responsive screen. The menus could however be improved to get them on a level with, say, the latest smartphones, particularly when it comes to typing in an address. It's a shame that it doesn't use the sort of system used by Mio, for example, which deletes letters while they're being entered when it's not possible for them to correspond to a valid address.
The address search is nevertheless efficient and you can also use this feature to search for cinemas, stations and so on. Moreover, you can improve the places of interest search with the MyTomTom interface from a computer. The LIVE services also make a Google search very practical. All that's missing is a list of individuals' addresses.
Voice recognition is again included and is as capricious as ever. Menu commands ("take me to an address", "turn the volume up" and so on) work properly on the whole, though you sometimes need to repeat yourself a few times. The device doesn't understand place names as well though and you sometimes have to resort to entering it manually. This is a shame as it would be much safer if you didn't need to do this. A good voice recognition system would truly be an added value and the first sat nav manufacturer to produce one would certainly mark itself out from the competition. It would also be practical not to have to touch the GPS to activate voice recognition, as on some Garmin products (you just have to say "voice command").
Navigation: the best traffic info system
Apart from the now standard features (lane guidance with realistic display of direction signs, Text-to-Speech for street names, display of speed limit signs and so on), the TomTom GO LIVE 825 also has HD Traffic, included as part of the LIVE services (£50 a year, free for the first year). This is currently the most reliable traffic info system available for detecting traffic jams and other incidents that slow you down. We tested it on the latest bank holiday weekend! While you can't always gain time with another itinerary, at least you know how much time you're going to be stuck for, which in itself reduces your stress levels. More details on this technology in the TOMTOM GO 740 LIVE test.
The IQ Routes technology common to all TomTom sat navs - is also very handy for planning a route based on the actual journey times recorded by other drivers. In practice, this means that most of the time you won't have to take routes full of curves that are even more dangerous or often very busy. There's also a system that combines the parameters of rapidity and economy. It does however have its limitations. It sometimes finds journeys that are hardly any longer and more enjoyable but it would be nice to be able to chose between several journeys. Mio and Navigon have already gone for such a system.
We do like the speed with which journeys are calculated and re-calculated.
Map Share is also still included and you can make the most of changes made by other users of TomTom sat navs. Obviously you can also make your own changes: new roundabouts or roads that aren't given for example.
The voice instructions are still just as clear, fluent and agreeable. Each instruction is repeated several times so it's impossible to make a mistake.
Extra features: speed cameras and Bluetooth handsfreeAs well as the standard emergency services feature (fire, police, hospitals and so on), the TomTom GO LIVE 825 uses LIVE services to display the weather, telling you, for example, what it'll be like at your destination.
TomTom speed cameras (fixed and mobile) are also given. It's a shame however that there's no scout system - like the one Coyote has - to tell you if vehicles driving ahead of you have come across any mobile cameras.
Finally, the Bluetooth feature is also included for handsfree, which allows you to make and receive mobile phone calls. This is a practical and functional system, though the sound quality isn't fantastic for the person you're talking to.