There's not much to say about the Go 730's design that we haven't already said when we reviewed the Go 720 last year. After all, they're practically identical: there's the same, slightly chunky, rubberised body with a swish looking metal speaker grille on the back. The only discernible changes are on the 4.3-inch screen's frame, which is now predominantly black.
The lack of changes isn't necessarily an issue — we're big fans of the Go 720, 730 and 930's aesthetics — except for one important thing: the windshield mount. The Go 730, as well as the Go 930, retains the old school TomTom mount design, which is relatively compact but lacks a lever or any sort of contraption to provide more suction. As such, every trip we took along New South Wales' potted roads we girded ourselves for the almost inevitable crash, bang, wallop of the Go falling earthward via our dashboard.
As with the exterior, the Go 730's interface is all but identical to, well, almost every other TomTom since day dot. This consistency is good — a relief almost — especially because TomTom's map screen and menu design are a snap to use. Instructions and stats — all configurable — are carried in a blue bar at the bottom of the map screen. Clicking on the next turn instruction brings up a volume slider (something we wish all GPS units had accessible via the map screen), a route summary is accessed by tapping the stats box, while the main menu can be brought up by tapping the map. Destination entry is simple via the on-screen QWERTY keyboard.
MP3 playback, an FM transmitter, text-to-speech and Bluetooth hands-free all make a return from last year's Go 720. Every one of these features on the 720 was riddled with so many bugs that it reminded us of Indiana Jones entering the Temple of Doom. We're happy to report that most of these features have been sprayed with copious amounts of Baygon before inserted into the Go 730.
Although the text-to-speech, or spoken street names, feature still stumbles over streets with Aboriginal or Aussie names, as well as some with an English clip, at least it comes pre-installed on the Go 730 — last year you had to load them manually via the TomTom Home program.
Bluetooth was initially reluctant to pair with our Palm Centro, but worked flawlessly after we successfully got it in bed with an Apple iPhone. Although calls were loud and clear, they only came through the built-in speaker. This is despite the presence of a much improved FM transmitter. This year's model now transmits at a decent volume and with sufficient power that it will work adequately even when driving through the concrete and glass canyons of the CBD, although the Garmin 760 still has a firm grip on its FM transmission crown.
Combined with the ability to playback MP3s, this makes the Go 730 a pretty handy device even if you know how to get to where you're going. Handily, song lists are easily accessible, via a faint button, on the main map screen. There's about 600MB of space on the TomTom for music storage — more if you're willing to delete some voices via the TomTom Home PC software. Music and instructions can also be output via Bluetooth or the line-out cable if your car stereo is appropriately equipped.
As with TomTom's other new products this year, the fourth-gen One, second-gen XL and Go 930, the Go 730 has Map Share. This feature allows users to correct errors, such as speed limits, blocked streets, and traffic and turn restrictions, present on the Whereis maps. These corrections can then be shared, once verified by TomTom, with other users via the Home PC software.
The Go 730 is the first TomTom device we've tested with the company's IQ Routes feature. Although it fails to live up to the marketing hype — some of the advertising material claims that the Go 730 can guide you around "like a local" — it does seem to do a better job at routing than other GPS navigators.
Traditionally sat-nav systems have calculated routes either by the speed limits on roads or a thoroughfare's classification (such as, lane, street, road, major road or highway) but, as we all know, during certain times of the day some roads and streets clog up with so much traffic that these assumptions are no longer valid. IQ Routes is TomTom's attempt to get around this. Over the years, the company's GPS units have been anonymously collecting average speed data for Australian roads and collating that info, with the user's consent, via the TomTom Home software.
Maybe TomTom hasn't collected enough Aussie data, or perhaps that data hasn't been sliced and diced in the correct way, because despite our best efforts some gridlocked main roads kept turning up on our routes. Although with a week of side by side testing with a competitor, the Go 730 did seem to regularly produce more logical routes.
Of more noticeable benefit is lane guidance, which is now available thanks to the supplied Whereis R15.1 maps. While the Mio Moov and Navman S-Series Platinum models have lane guidance for some main roads, major intersections and highway on- and off-ramps, the Go 730 has this feature for all but the most minor of streets. The lane info is typically displayed in the next turn instruction box, with full screen representations taking their place on some highway and motorway entrances and exits.
It takes about 6.5 seconds for the TomTom to start itself up — something it has to do every time you step into the car as there's no sleep mode. In the CBD, it will sometimes get confused about its position, as well as occasionally lose sight of the GPS satellites, but this is all par for the course with consumer-grade GPS devices. Traffic services aren't included with the Go 730, although the Go 730 Traffic is available for an extra AU$100.
A year ago when we reviewed its predecessor, the Go 720, we lauded its lovely design and then cried a salty ocean of tears because the high price meant that its buggy feature set were unforgivable. This year, though, we've been able to turn off the water works for the most part: the price is sane and the features debugged. The only thing holding the Go 730 back from greatness is that godforsaken windshield mount.