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Best GPS Navigator - Tom Tom - Great Price Deal Under $100 - The TomTom XL 330-S 4.3-Inch Portable GPS Navigator

Updated on January 9, 2011

Driving with a Partner

Images courtesy of Amazon
Images courtesy of Amazon

Who Really Needs a GPS Navigation Device?

I wasn't convinced. After all, I work less than half a mile from home. Then I come home and work from home. My shopping is done (reluctantly) at the Winn Dixie down the road, or the Wal-Mart just a little further down the road. Not the prime candidate for a GPS unit.

But recently, I took a trip to another state with some friends. They drove, and there was a gps system in their car. I was impressed. It was like having a back-seat driver, only one that actually knew what it was talking about. Though our seasoned driver would occasionally talk back, just to assert her authority. Heck, we were at Hilton Head, driving larger multi-lanes, little tiny roads, roundabouts, it didn't matter. The instructions were specific, like which lane to get in, or how far to drive. They were timely… not like the buddy who screams "Turn here! Turn here!" just as you've missed the turnoff. And it was accurate… we actually arrived exactly where we meant to be.

I've changed my mind... Now what's the best GPS for me?

Given how some humans just don’t LIKE to follow directions, I could forgive our little gps for sounding a little … peeved, occasionally. 

After we got back home, I've been re-thinking my stand.  While I personally may not have a great need for a gps navigation device, at least I can see the need now.  So, with friends and family in mind, I set about looking for a good model.  Something easy to use, since some of the people I'm thinking of aren't 'tech' comfortable.  Something in an affordable price range.  Understanding that 'affordable' is a sliding scale, and isn't the same for everybody, I decided affordable would be around $100, give or take a bit.  For that $100, I wanted the best gps for the money.  A best buy gps.  Sort of a 'bang per buck' ratio.

Due Diligence results are... TomTom

While doing my due diligence (I learned that phrase, along with "It is what it is", during my 3-month stint as a failed car salesman…) the TomTom gps units kept coming up.  Of course, it's tempting to get the best, newest, highest tech, because I love gadgets.  But in keeping with my keep-it-simple decision (and budget restrictions), I toned it down… and found the TomTom XL 330-S.  After all the research, the 330-S is the winner for me.  So come Christmas-time, look out.  If you're on my gift list, you may be getting a new back-seat driver!

Looking for something more upscale?

The TomTom XL 330-S

The TomTom XL 330-S is a GPS Navigation unit.  Easy enough for anybody to use, yet powerful enough to get you where you're going, and make it seem effortless.  It has a 4.3" widescreen display with 3d graphics.  Ready to go straight from the box to the road.  Enter your destination on the touchscreen, and hit the road.  You get door-to-door spoken directions, turn by turn, including street names. 

The XL 330-S has accurate, easily updated maps, pre-loaded with millions of interesting places to explore (or eat, gas up the car, grab a night's sleep…)

TomTom XL 330-S GPS Review

Customized Maps and Updates

Something I found very cool is the Map Share technology.  Map Share allows you to change street names, directions, add your own favorite stops.  Download personalized maps from other users.  You can find local emergency services with the Help Me feature.  And when you get there, the Fold and Go EasyPort mount provides a simple solution to security and portability from one vehicle to another.

The best and newest maps of Canada and the US are preinstalled.  Comes with "30-Day Latest Map Guarantee", if  there's a newer map released within 30 days of purchase, it's free to download via TomTom HOME.

Did you know TomTom owns Tele Atlas?

TomTom began in Amsterdam, 1991.  Today TomTom provides some of the best navigation GPS equipment in the world.  In 2008, TomTom bought Tele Atlas Maps.  Across the country, roads can change by up to 40% each year.  So having their own mapping company makes sense.

TomTom GPS Nav Systems have award-winning software, featuring ease of use, great maps, efficient routing solutions and a strong emphasis on safety.

  Available to all TomToms is "Traffic Ready", an optional receiver that keeps you informed of traffic conditions enroute.  Similarly, "Fuel Price Service" is an optional service the find the best gas prices as you travel.

XL 330-S

TomTom XL 330-S Details:

Brand: TomTom

Measures 4.7" x 3.2" x .09"

Model - XL 330-S

Weight - 1.1 pounds

Connectivity:  USB

The widescreen 4.3" touchscreen is full TFT color LCD, 480 x 272 pixels, 64,000 colors. WQVGA screenstyle

Battery Average Life - 3 hours (Internal Lithium-Ion)

High sensitivity GPS chipset

Maps - USA, Canada, Puerto Rico


Touch screen navigation is simple to learn.  The TomTom XL 330-S allows trip planning with multiple destinations, which is a great added bonus.  It's quick to understand route changes, and good and allows programming 'avoids', so you can bypass construction, congestion, etcetera.  The spoken instructions are easy to follow. 

I like the 4.3" widescreen, and the text to speech feature.  Some people have reported problems with low volume, but by and large, most users experience excellent volume.  The volume changes as you increase and decrease speed. 

The GPS reception is generally excellent, and the mounting system greatly simplifies portability.   (Some have had trouble at first with the mount, but adjust to it with use.)

Software easy to use, though downloading can be slow with all the detailed maps.  TomTom Home makes updating a snap, and the XL 330-S programming is simple, yet deceptively powerful.  And, as one person said, if you get stuck any  twelve-year old child should be able to help you with it. (Yeah… kids are amazing.)

Weak Points (and a Tip)

Not that it's a big deal, but the worst complaint I've found is the TomTom gps units have a tendency to insist you keep left, every time you get off the highway. The car charger can be difficult to insert, but gets easier as you work at it.

Most people haven't needed customer service, and when they did, had no trouble. I did find reference to one person who had a rough time with customer service, but that seems to be the exception, not the standard.

When mounting the XL 330-S in your car, consider road visibility, and how far/often you'll need to look away from the road to see it. That's not really a strength or a weak point, but I think it's a great safety tip, recommended by an Amazon customer.

It's all in the box

TomTom XL 300-S
TomTom XL 300-S

When I Buy One,

What Do I Get?

The TomTom XL 330-S gps navigation device comes with the device itself, the windshield mount, desk dock, car charger, software/manual CD, and documentation.

Plus you get a cool little back-seat driver. Easy to use, efficient, and if you're bored on the trip, you can argue routes with it. But be prepared to lose the argument... the XL 330-S is a savvy little GPS navigator!


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