Hardware: Nice Big Screen
The TomTom Start 60 has a similar design to other sat navs in the Start series. The plastics are good quality and the finish is flawless.
The 6" screen is clearly a key feature of this sat nav, and thankfully it doesn't disappoint. The 800 x 480 pixel resolution (compared with 480 x 270 pixels for most sat navs) makes it sharp, and clear and easy to read with nice detailed images during route navigation (vector graphics). Unlike our current favourite (TomTom GO LIVE 1000/1005) with its glossy screen, the Start 60 display has a matte finish with good brightness levels, which means that reflections and glare are less of a problem.
The Start 60 screen (top) is bright and has nice contrast levels.
The 5-inch display in the TomTom GO LIVE 1005 (bottom) looks tiny in comparison!
In spite of this sat nav's size, the suction mount is still built into the device itself. It's easy to use too—just stick the sucker on your windscreen (which should already be enough to support the GPS) then turn the ring clockwise to secure it in place. A separate stick-on stand is also supplied if you want to mount your Start 60 on the dashboard (see below). This can help keep your field of vision clear in certain vehicles. Still, it would have been nice to see a stand with built-in charging capabilities (like those that sell with the GO LIVE 1000/1005) and with TomTom's Easy Click mounting so you don't have to fiddle around with this outsized GPS each time you get in and out of your car.
The USB/cigarette lighter adapter is nice and small, and the cable that connects it to the sat nav can also be used to hook your Start 60 up to a computer (USB to micro USB). Note that unlike TomTom's Via sat navs, the microSD card slot can be found on the underside of the device, protected by a little cover.
The TomTom Start 60 comes with maps of 45 European countries. Maps are updated daily free of charge via Map Share service but these updates are limited (see inset).
Audio output is good, and the speaker delivers sound that's clear and sufficiently powerful. All in all, quality is better than in most competitor models.
Design and Build: Easy-to-Read Screen
Like all the latest TomTom sat navs, the Start 60 only takes a few seconds to start up from its deep sleep mode (so long as it has remaining battery, this GPS never switches off fully). When completely switched off (if you haven't used it in a while, for example), you'll have to wait 45 seconds for it to get going. In our tests, the Start 60 found satellite signals quickly—in under a minute most of the time. Obviously, this can vary in relation to your location and with specific factors affecting the satellites and their trajectories.
The TomTom 2012 sat nav interface hasn't changed much. It has the same clear menus packed with rather a lot of options (sometimes it feels like there are a lot of pages to scroll through). There are three steps to make in the interface before you can enter an address, which is OK, but it would have been nice to see a quick search function for entering an address easily on one line—a bit like a search engine. In navigation mode, the onscreen info is as clear as ever. Key information is displayed at the bottom of the screen and you can adjust the volume by simply pressing the middle button.
The big, high-resolution screen displays the various sections of your route in great detail. This makes junction views easier to understand at a glance, as the larger display area means more information can fit onscreen.
While TomTom doesn't give any specific hardware specs for the Start 60, the device runs smoothly. It's not as responsive as a recent high-end smartphone, but it's perfectly fine when entering addresses. Address entry is effective too, although it'd be nice to see a system for greying out letters as you enter the destination. But at least you don't have to type out destinations in full! The large onscreen keyboard makes text entry easy and routes are calculated quickly.
Route Guidance: Clear Instructions But No Traffic Info
The general TomTom navigation system hasn't changed. You'll therefore find the usual host of functions that helped seal the firm's success, including IQ Routes for route calculation using real-time road speed data, as well as lane guidance with realistic junction views, speed limits and Parking Assist to help you find parking places nearby.
In spite of that, the routes proposed aren't always that appropriate, as the GPS sometimes insists on using roads that are supposedly faster when it's not always practical to do so. This is often the case in the countryside, and it's a common problem in sat navs that's linked to their mapping systems. To get around this, it would have been nice to see a route calculation mode that prioritises main roads, as even if you can save five minutes by using minor roads in some places, it's not always practical to do so. Mio already has a function for this.
TomTom's voice that reads out instructions and street names is clear and pronounces words well. Most of the time each instruction is repeated twice (a few hundred meters and then just before a junction), which can help stop you making mistakes or having to check the screen.
Speed camera alerts are always a handy addition, with data updated regularly by users. Note that this has been replaced with a "danger zones" function in countries that have banned speed camera alerts (e.g. France).
Finally, we're disappointed to see that there's still no sign of a free traffic info service in Via sat navs. For RDS-TMC traffic updates you have to buy a separate receiver, available for about £50 in TomTom's online store. Although these free traffic info services only cover main roads, they can still be useful.
Extra Features: Route Guidance Only
Seeing as this is an entry-level Start-series GPS, the Start 60 doesn't have Bluetooth for hands-free calls with a mobile phone. There are no connected services for web searches (Google, Yellow Pages) or other online info like weather reports and traffic info. This sat nav is for route guidance only.
- Big, bright, high-resolution screen
- Simple, user-friendly interface
- Excellent finish
- Built-in suction mount
- No free traffic info service or Bluetooth
- No web search or connected services
- A clip-on stand with charging capabilities would have been nice
Thanks to the very big high-resolution screen, it's always easy to see what's going on with the TomTom Start 60. The large icons are also practical. Otherwise, it's a sat nav with a pretty standard set of functions—although there's no sign of a free traffic info service (available as an optional extra). On the whole, the Start 60 is a perfectly decent GPS.