After 5 or 6 years of using an old iPaq 4150 with seperate GPS bluetooth receiver I decided it was time to update. The maps were out of date and taht version of the TomTom software doesn't allow updates, the hardware was flakey and iffy battery in the iPaq meant cables everywhere in the car.

So it's time to upgrade.

Decided on the TomTom XXL largely down to the large screen compared to other devices. I had considered using Google Maps on phone but the screen is tiny in comparison (not to mention at the time of writing Google Nav simply isn't up there with TomTom software).

While the TomTom XXL comes with maps of Europe, I can't see me using them so I shalt comment on that.

TomTom XXL UK & Europe, in use

Used properly for the first time last weekend (17/4/2011) to travel from Sheffield to Walsall. The screen is not only large but lovely and clear. I found the lane guidance feature was fantastic, one of the features that I'd be missing if I relied on Google Navigation on an Android phone. Though no doubt Google will add that in later versions.

There were one or two occasions where the lane guidance didn't seem particularly clear, but not so bad as to send me the wrong way.

GPS lock with the satellites was pretty quick, certainly better than my old iPaq + bluetooth receiver solution.

In the box

The TomTom XXL comes with a mount for the car screen, a charging cable for the car, a USB cable but no mains adaptor. I can't see the lack of mains charger being a problem however.

The Quickport screen mount for the car is nice, but if you have a deep dashboard it can mean the device is out of reach to change anything without having to move/stretch so really should be stopping. A minor irritation that will be sorted if I can find a mount with a neck to hold the TomTom XXL further away from the glass.

At the moment the mount feels a bit fiddly to take on/off the windscreen, but I put this down to the XXL's very large screen rather than the mounting system itself.

TomTom Home

Donwloadable from the TomTom website, this software allows you to update your TomTom device with data such as map corrections and for some devices camera locations etc

There are limitations to this software... after the initial update of maps to your XXL further updates are based on a subscription model. While not extortionate at around £40 a year, it is an irritation.

The main issue I have with the TomTom Home software is the fact it can only run on Windows or Mac operating systems. So despite the fact the device itself runs Linux, you cannot run the TomTom Home software on a Linux system. Whie it will start on WINE, USB support is a sticking point rendering this redundant as a solution.

I'm aware there are a few open source/free projects trying to work on this TomTom Home/Linux issue, but as yet I've not had a chance to try them out.

So, if you run a Linux PC and want a GPS unit, think carefully about how important the device updates are for you and whether you are prepared to run a Windows Virtual Machine (£license) or dual boot just for TomTom.