TomTom and Garmin are probably the two most recognised brands in the sat-nav industry. Both the TomTom Go 5000 and the (memorably named) Garmin nüvi 2599LMT-D feature five-inch touchscreens, voice command and mapping with traffic updates.
We spent a week with each on a roadtrip to Germany to see how they compare.
Compared to a smartphone, both units are quite bulky. If you’re planning on using them outside the car we suggest you carry a bag with you because it’ll be a squeeze to try and get them in your pocket.
The TomTom has a rounded, rubberised appearance compared to the Garmin’s more rectangular look. To our eyes, the gloss black plastic of the Garmin combined with its thinner body makes it the more attractive device of the two.
Ease of use
There’s little to separate the two on ease of use – both make it simple to pick your destination and your type of route. If using the screen to input details, the TomTom is marginally easier because it takes only two taps from starting to begin navigating – the whole unit operates through a single search box that you can use to search for places, postcodes or points of interest (such as petrol stations, car parks or supermarkets).
Both sat-navs, however, feature voice command features. If using this system, the Garmin is the clear winner. We felt the voice control on the TomTom wasn’t as logical as the Garmin’s whereas the latter’s system felt like something you’d regularly use.
Mapping and navigating
This is another area where it’s hard to split the two devices because both do the job of navigating quite well. You’re unlikely to be left confused by the instructions on screen for either model but – if you twisted our arm – we’d have to give it to the TomTom.
Its map is just as easy to read as the Garmin’s but, thanks to its translucent menus, more of the screen space is used to display the map while the Garmin covers the corners with buttons and other information.
Value for money
There’s quite a gulf between the two models when you look at their prices. The Garmin costs £179.99 compared to the TomTom’s £259.99. With an £80 price difference there’s no competition – the Garmin is significantly better value for money.
A brief glance on Amazon.co.uk shows that this difference is much smaller when you actually buy it but, in general, the TomTom still costs more. Both sat-navs come with free lifetime map and traffic updates – ideal in a world where free smartphone sat-nav apps do the same for no cost.
Although the TomTom is a great device with great mapping facilities it’s the Garmin we have to recommend here. The TomTom is marginally better to use but nowhere near enough to justify its £80 premium. Equally, the voice activation on the Garmin was so good at recognising commands that it’d be worth considering purely for that feature.
Either way, both represent fantastic value for money compared to built-in car sat-navs and both are much more advanced than smartphone-based sat-nav applications. If you’re planning a long journey – or simply hate being lost – either of these would make an ideal companion.